Who's skating for Azerbaijan?

Obtaining ISU clearance proves tough go for Andreev, Forte

Fedor Andreev has until Thursday morning to produce his Azerbaijan citizenship papers.
Fedor Andreev has until Thursday morning to produce his Azerbaijan citizenship papers. (Jacque Tiegs)


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By Lynn Rutherford, special to
(09/23/2009) - The draw to determine the men's skate order at this week's Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf, Germany, had more drama than usual.

This year, the season's first notable international competition is doubling as a qualifier to determine the remaining Olympic spots not earned by countries at the 2009 World Figure Skating Championships.

Fedor Andreev, who won a bronze medal at the 2003 Canadian Figure Skating Championships and placed ninth at the 2009 Canadians, had hoped to switch allegiances and represent Azerbaijan, a former Soviet republic that became independent in 1991, at Nebelhorn. His name was initially included on the entry list for the 2009 World Figure Skating Championships in Los Angeles, but removed prior to the draw.

This time around, he made it a step closer.

During a draw ceremony earlier today, ISU Chair Sports Directorate Peter Krick said, "Fedor Andreev has not yet shown a clearance paper for his [Azerbaijani] citizenship, but he has time to do this until tomorrow morning. Therefore, we will draw him. However, the skater who will be drawn to skate after him should be aware that Andreev may not skate, and he may have to skate instead."

Andreev was drawn to skate fourth. Czech Michal Brezina, who won the silver medal at the 2009 world juniors, drew to skate fifth. (Czech Republic, by virtue of Tomas Verner's fourth-place finish at the 2009 worlds, has already qualified two Olympic men's spots).

Sources within the ISU said that although Andreev presented an Azerbaijani passport, he must also provide an additional document certifying his citizenship. Andreev, who trains in Florida under Richard Callaghan, was not present at the draw ceremony in Oberstdorf.

Joelle Forte, last season's Eastern Sectionals champion who placed 12th at the 2009 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, also hoped to qualify an Olympic spot for Azerbaijan by competing at Nebelhorn. However, her name was recently removed from the entry list. Russian-born Emma Hagieva, who is coached by 1999 world champion Maria Butyrskaya, is listed as Azerbaijan's entry in the ladies' event.

In recent years, Azerbaijan has been represented at the Olympics and world championships by ice dancers Igor Lukanin, a native Russian, and American-born Kristin Fraser. Their highest finish at worlds was 11th in 2008. After placing 18th at the 2009 worlds, they elected to retire and pursue coaching careers.

Update: Andreev has confirmed he will not be competing at Nebelhorn.

Klaus-Reinhold Kany contributed to this story.