• Reuters, Staff Report

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Olympic and world champion Alina Zagitova is taking a break from figure skating this winter, the Russian announced abruptly on Friday.

The 17-year-old told the Russian TV program “Vremya” that she would not take part in the national championships later this month, which will make her ineligible for the European and world championships later this season.

“I’m not leaving the sport. But I will not participate in the Russian championships,” said Zagitova, who is coached by the highly successful Eteri Tutberidze.

“I want to clarify right away that without (taking part in the championships) I will not qualify for the European and world championships.

“I was always selected on sporting grounds.”

This season, Zagitova has been struggling to keep up with her younger Russian opponents who have been landing quadruple jumps and triple axels — feats she has never attempted in competition.

Zagitova finished last at the Grand Prix Final in Turin, Italy, last week, behind training partners Alena Kostornaia, Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova.

The native of Izhevsk, Russia, came in second at her first GP event (Internationaux de France) this season and third at the NHK Trophy in Sapporo last month.

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