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Yagudin's comeback a question mark

Olympic champion's return depends on hip, ISU

Alexei Yagudin needs his hip to heal before he can return to competitive skating.
Alexei Yagudin needs his hip to heal before he can return to competitive skating. (Getty Images)

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By Laurie Nealin / icenetwork.com
(10/25/2007) - Alexei Yagudin might be determined to make a comeback to competition, but his body and the ISU will have the final say on that.

In July in New York City, the 2002 Olympic and four-time world champion from Russia once again underwent hip surgery to repair the injury-plagued joint that cut short his competitive career after he won gold in Salt Lake City. This time he had a complete hip replacement, a procedure similar to the ones that succeeded in keeping American Rudy Galindo in the professional skating game.

Yagudin's optimism following his operation prompted him to announce a month later that he planned a comeback to competitive skating with an eye towards competing at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.

But fans should not expect to see Yagudin back on competition ice any time soon.

Dmitri Goryachkin, the IMG agent who represents Yagudin, said in an email this week, "This season he will be recovering after his surgery and, in summer (2008), we will see whether he will be in good shape to resume skating competitively. After that, he will talk to Russian federation."

As Goryachkin alluded to in his note, physical recovery is not the only hurdle Yagudin will have to quadruple jump over if he is to return to Olympic-eligible competition.

The International Skating Union (ISU) advises that rules 102 and 103 of the ISU General Regulations concerning competitor eligibility indicate that if a skater has become ineligible, he or she may apply to the ISU Council for reinstatement as an eligible person as long as they have not violated Rule 102, paragraph 2 (ii) and (iii) -- that is, if they have not competed in a competition judged by non-ISU officials or in an event not sanctioned by a member federation or the ISU.

Back in August, Goryachkin was asked via e-mail if the last phrase in that rule would prevent Yagudin from applying for reinstatement since he had participated in certain made-for-television competitions that would likely not comply. The Moscow-based agent replied, "About a month or two ago, (ISU President) Ottavio (Cinquanta) said, in response to a reporter's question about Yagudin's possible return, that if Russian Federation petition the ISU for reinstatement, they will consider it."

In the meantime, Yagudin is participating in "Ice Age" -- Russian television's version of the FOX network's reality show "Skating with Celebrities", which paired skating stars with non-skating celebrities to compete for votes from viewers.

In late November or early December, Yagudin's autobiography will finally be published in Russian. The book entitled Naprolom is an updated version of his autobiography which was previously issued only in Japanese. There is no English language version.

Goryachkin reports that the first print run in Russian is 30,000 copies, although preliminary orders from retailers have already exceeded that number.

In January, Yagudin is scheduled to tour Japan with Stars on Ice, but he will not perform on the U.S. Stars tour. Instead, he will turn his attention to complete recuperation and conditioning.