Olympics-Valieva leads Russian figure skating team dominated by teens

FILE PHOTO: Figure Skating - ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating - 2021 Rostelecom Cup - The Iceberg Skating Palace, Sochi, Russia - November 28, 2021 Russian Figure Skating Federation's Kamila Valieva in action during the gala REUTERS/Evgenia Novozhenina

MOSCOW (Reuters) - European champion Kamila Valieva will lead a Russian figure skating team at the Beijing Olympics next month that is dominated by a bunch of talented teenagers who will be eager to obliterate the opposition.

The 15-year-old Valieva, who holds world records for the women's short program, free skate and combined total, led a Russian sweep of the medals in the women's singles at last week's European championships and they will be favourites to repeat the feat in Beijing.

The Russian Figure Skating Federation announced on Thursday that Valieva will be joined in Beijing by 17-year-olds Anna Shcherbakova, the world champion, and Alexandra Trusova -- the duo who occupied the lower platforms on the podium at the European championships. All three are known for their high-flying quadruple jumps.

On the men's side, 18-year-olds Mark Kondratyuk, the 2022 European champion, and Andrei Mozalev will be making their Olympic debuts.

Mikhail Kolyada, 26, will be looking to improve on his eighth place finish at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics.

World and European champions Anastasia Mishina and Alexander Galliamov are considered strong contenders for gold in the pairs.

Veteran pair Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, who won silver at this year's European championships, will be competing in their second Olympics. They finished a heartbreaking fourth at the 2018 Games.

They will be joined by promising pair Alexandra Boikova and Dmitry Kozlovsky, the 2020 European champions and bronze medallists at the 2021 worlds.

In ice dance, world and European champions Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov will be looking to step on the podium in Beijing.

Ice dancers Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin, and Diana Davis and Gleb Smolkin, were also named the to team.

Russian athletes are barred from competing at major international events under their flag and with their anthem until December 2022 as part of doping sanctions.

At the Beijing Games, which run from Feb. 4-20, Russians will be competing as representatives of the Russian Olympic Committee under the acronym "ROC".

(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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