Russia's Olympic figure skating champion Alina Zagitova has opted to skip the national team's pre-season test skating on September 12 and 13, to focus on hosting a reality television show.
Zagitova, who won the women's singles title and a silver medal in the team event at the Pyeonchang 2018 Winter Olympics, had previously announced in December that she was looking to take an indefinite break from the sport.
Rumours then followed that the 18-year-old might retire from figure skating, which were firmly denied.
At the time, Russian Figure Skating Federation (RFSF) President Alexander Gorshkov said that a place in the national team would remain reserved for her.
Now, the RFSF have stated that she will not be part of pre-season plans, despite returning to training in June.
"I have decided against taking part in the pre-season test skate on September 12 and 13, as I am very interested at the moment to try myself in a new role, namely to be the host of Ice Age," said Zagitova, according to Russia's state news agency TASS.
Alina Zagitova has signed on as a cohost of the TV show "Ice Age." The show will be filmed during the season, so it is unlikely she will compete at the Russian Cup. A decision about her skating future will be made following the test skates. https://t.co/GI6kA1uvOg— IFS Magazine (@ifsmagazine) August 31, 2020
Ice Age is a Russian reality television show focusing on figure skating.
"In her request today, Alina spoke only about skipping the pre-season trials and nothing else," said Gorshkov.
"We have accepted her request with understanding."
However, Russian figure skating coach Alexander Zhulin told TASS that he believed it was a sign that she will not come back to the ice.
"In my opinion, it means that she is not coming back to sports," said Zhulin.
During the 2019-2020 season, Zagitova won gold at the World Championship in Saitama in Japan, as well as silvers at the European Championship and the Grand Prix Final.
She finished first in the world's best female skaters for the season.
Zagitova is the first Russian female figure skater to have won all of the main prizes in women's singles competitions, having won the 2018 European Championships in Moscow and the gold at the 2017-2018 Grand Prix Final in Nagoya.