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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russian Skaters Dominate, Cash in on Golds

SOFIA, Bulgaria -- Money was introduced at International Skating Union championships this year and the Russians are collecting the lion's share of the prizes so far.


Between the world junior and the European championships, Russians won seven of the eight events and took 13 of 24 possible medals. With European victories worth at least $20,000 and world junior wins at $10,000, plus other places, Russians have gained more than $200,000 in official money.


Also, the Russians have 21 of the spots in the Grand Prix Finals, Feb. 23 to 24, after winning more than $300,000 so far and a chance at a $700,000 pot.


It's paying off for the Russians to lace up their skates.


"I think that skating in Russia is on the upswing," said Valentin Piseyev, president of the Russian Skating Federation. "Of course, the level of our great skaters has climbed to that of the leading group of the world, but our other skaters also have approached the world-class group."


Russians took the majority of medals in the four events, winning three gold medals at the European Championships that just ended and getting nearly every one of its skaters in the top five.


Viacheslav Zagorodniuk prevented a Russian sweep by becoming the third Ukraine winner in four years in the men's event just in front of two Russians.


Russia's Artur Dmitriyev took the pairs with a new partner, Oksana Kazakova. He previously won European, world and Olympic titles with Natasha Mishkutienok.


Oksana Gritschuk and Yevgeny Platov of Russia led a sweep of the ice dance medals by couples trained by Natalya Linichuk and Gennady Karponosov, who are based in Newark, Delaware.


Irina Slutskaya gained the first singles title for a Russian or former Soviet woman.


Slutskaya is in the front of a growing number of good young Russian skaters that could dominate European skating. She took the worlds junior title last year at 15, took a year to develop style and won the Europeans.


Bronze medal winner Ilya Kulik also moved directly from the junior ranks in the last year.


There are more behind them. For the second year in a row the Russians won all four events at the world junior championships with a 1-2-3 sweep of the women's event in Australia in December.


"We have a very talented new generation of skaters. That became clear after the recent juniors championship in Brisbane," Piseyev said. Slutskaya ended Surya Bonaly's quest to win a record sixth women's title that would have matched Sonja Henie and Katarina Witt.


Third went to Maria Butyrskaya, another Russian.


Slutskaya will have an early crack at current world champion Chen Lu of China and a $50,000 first prize in a competition in Paris at the end of the month.


The world championships, March 17 to 24 in Edmonton, Canada, also offer champions $50,000 for singles and $75,000 for pairs and ice dance.


(For other results, see Scorecard.)