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Russia’s 2018 Olympic champion in figure skating, Alina Zagitova, suspends sporting career

Zagitova said she would continue her training, but will stay aside from major competitions

MOSCOW, December 13. /TASS/. Russia’s 2018 Olympic champion in figure skating, 17-year-old Alina Zagitova, announced on Friday that she was putting her sporting career on hold for an indefinite period.

"I’m not leaving, but I will not take part in the upcoming Russian Championships. I want to make it clear from the very outset that, without [undergoing the nationwide] selection procedure, I’m not going to lay any claims for participation in the European Championship or World Championship. I’ve always been chosen to take part [in those events] in a fair competition," she said in a Channel One broadcast.

"However, I will stay on ice and I will continue my training. I think it would be the right thing to do, because I’m going to learn some new elements," the Russian figure skater went on.

She added that she would continue working with her coach Eteri Tutberidze.

"I’m staying with my coaches," Zagitova continued. "I’m very grateful to them, to the federation, fans and my family. We achieved everything together."

Tutberidze, in turn, said that Zagitova would return on ice when she starts missing competitions.

"This is her decision, and, regretfully, it did not come out of thin air. Alina has been talking about this for about 18 months," she said. "It was no surprise. The past 18 months when she kept competing and fighting, were difficult."

"She skates beautifully, and she looks very good on ice, so the entire team of coaches tried to persuade her to continue. I think she would eventually arrive at the decision [to resume competitions]: she would not even make a pause in her training, so that she could return at any moment," the coach added.

In addition to the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics gold medal in singles and the silver medal in the team event, Zagitova is the winner of the 2019 ISU World Championship. She became the first Russian female figure skater to win all awards in top ladies singles competitions as she is also the winner of the 2018 European Championships in Moscow and the gold medalist of the 2017-2018 Grand Prix Final in Nagoya.

During this season, Zagitova was second at the Grand Prix event in France and third - in Japan, but finished sixth in the Grand Prix Final.