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Domnina, Shabalin team with Linichuk

Russians head to U.S. to train alongside American rivals

Despite taking the European title in January, Domnina and Shabalin now wave good-bye to their longtime coach, Gorshkov, and their home.
Despite taking the European title in January, Domnina and Shabalin now wave good-bye to their longtime coach, Gorshkov, and their home. (Getty Images)

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By Todd Hinckley
(06/19/2008) - We last saw Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin on top of the podium at the 2008 European Championships. They ended their season shortly afterwards due to Shabalin's injured knee.

Now, they are making more news off the ice. According to the Russian news agency, Allsport, the Russian team is leaving longtime coach Alexei Gorshkov and heading to the United States, where they will work with 1980 Olympic gold medalists Natalia Linichuk and Gennadi Karponosov.

Shabalin confirmed the report but did not explain the reasoning behind it. He says his meniscus is fine, and that he and Domnina are eager to begin work on their new programs.

Domnina and Shabalin are not the first prominent dance team to join Linichuk's stable this off-season. Five-time U.S. champions and three-time world medalists Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto left their longtime coaches in Michigan to move to Aston, Pa., and work with Linichuk and her husband, Karponosov.

When asked about their new training mates, Shabalin told Allsport, "Well, the competition will only benefit us."

The Russians are expected to head to Aston, Pa., as early as next week.