Home Sports Russian Figure Skaters Dominate Despite Olympic Ban

Russian Figure Skaters Dominate Despite Olympic Ban


But that is widely considered a mere technicality.

“Everyone will know they are Russians if they have a flag or not,” said Rafael Arutyunyan, a Georgian who coached in Moscow for nearly two decades and now coaches the American Olympians Nathan Chen and Adam Rippon.

Russia was barred from these Games as punishment for systematic doping while playing host to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, the Black Sea resort. But 169 individual Russian athletes have been permitted to compete after passing what were said to be rigorous drug screenings.

Figure skating has not been immune to the doping scandal. Two prominent Russian skaters, including Ksenia Stolbova, who won silver and gold medals in pairs at the 2014 Games, have been prohibited from these Olympics for reasons that have not been fully explained.

Even those who were permitted to compete here nervously awaited clearance.

“We didn’t know until the day before the Olympics whether we would go or not,” said Ekaterina Bobrova, Soloviev’s ice dance partner. “Of course this was difficult for us.”

Yet there is seemingly little or no ostracism of the Russian skaters here. They compete regularly on an international circuit, are well known and highly regarded and lend competitive rigor to any skating event. Their absence would lessen the outcome in the view of many in the sport.

“If you’re at the Olympics, you want to be with the best people in the world,” said Denise Myers, the coach of the American women’s champion Bradie Tennell.

Stéphane Lambiel, the 2006 Olympic silver medalist from Switzerland who is now a coach, said the Russian skaters are being welcomed. “Yes, for sure they are,” Lambiel said. “They are great athletes, and they are working hard. They’re amazing. I’m the first fan of the Russian school.”

The Canadian Olympic Committee apologized several days ago for an incident in which a Russian coach said a Canadian delegate had verbally abused him in the Olympic Village about the participation of Russian athletes. On Sunday, Michael Slipchuk, the leader of the Canadian skating team, said none of his skating personnel had been involved.

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