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Olympic Champion Sotnikova Downgraded to Substitute for World Champs

11:56 06.03.2014

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MOSCOW, March 6 (R-Sport) - Sochi Olympic figure skating gold medalist Adelina Sotkinova has been relegated to a reserve for Russia in this month's world championships, according to the International Skating Union.

The 17-year-old, who beat South Korea's reigning champion Kim Yuna with a lifetime best performance last month, had been nominated to represent Russia for the championships along with 15-year-old European champion Julia Lipnitskaia.

But now, a list of competitors on the ISU's website shows Russia's two entrants for the March 24-30 event in Saitama, Japan, to be Lipnitskaia and Anna Pogorilaya, who is also 15 years of age and whose best result is victory in the 2013 Cup of China Grand Prix.

Sotnikova is listed as a substitute.

The general director of the Russian Figure Skating Federation, Valentin Piseev, insisted Sotnikova could still appear, however.

"This is just a provisional squad," Piseev told R-Sport. "We don't rule out the participation of Sotnikova at the world championships; a division will be taken on March 10, when she returns from the tour," he added.

Asked why Pogorilaya was included over the more experienced and higher-ranked Alyona Leonova, Piseev said the idea was to blood youngsters for the next Games in Pyeongchang, 2018.

"A new Olympic cycle is starting, and we need to examine new athletes who are younger," Piseev said.

Sotkinova's victory over Kim caused a storm of controversy, with many observers claiming a flawed judging system allowed the Russian to be allocated points she didn't necessarily deserve. Sotnikova rejected the criticism, insisting she earned the victory, while Kim has since called the result "absurd."

The worlds wouldn't have seen a rematch anyway because Kim, for years considered the queen of figure skating, announced her retirement in the wake of the defeat.

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