Figure-skating: Pogorilaya, Fernandez headline Cup of Russia

Figure-skating: Pogorilaya, Fernandez headline Cup of Russia

MOSCOW - Anna Pogorilaya will be carrying Russian hopes in the absence of Olympic champion Adelina Sotnikova, while Spaniard Javier Fernandez headlines the men's event as the ISU figure skating Grand Prix series heads to Moscow starting Friday.

Sotnikova will miss the fourth in the six-leg Grand Prix calendar and also the NHK Trophy in Japan later this month with a torn ankle ligament.

The 18-year-old Sotnikova has not competed in top-level international competition since winning a surprise gold in Sochi.

In her absence, Pogorilaya, 16, will be looking to seal her berth in the Grand Prix final in Barcelona next month, after taking gold in her first assignment at Skate Canada.

European champion Fernandez, a two-time world bronze medallist, is also hoping to make the elite six-skater Grand Prix final in his home country after finishing second in Skate Canada.

"I'm looking forward to a Grand Prix home stage," said Pogorilaya, who made her senior debut by winning the Cup of China last season ahead of Sotnikova.

"I have not set myself any special objectives for this event. I just want to give my home public some joy with my performance." Her challengers will include American Mirai Nagasu, Japan's Rika Hongo, South Korea's So-Youn Park and Canada's Alaine Chartrand.

Fernandez, a bronze medallist in Moscow last year, faces a challenge from Americans Jason Brown and Max Aaron, medallists at Skate America and Skate Canada respectively.

Other challengers include 2011 world silver medallist Takahiko Kozuka of Japan, Czech Michal Brezina and Russia's Sergei Voronov.

In the pairs, Russian duo Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov, Sochi Games gold medallists in the team event, look favourites after the Olympic champions Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov pulled out due to injury.

They will be joined by compatriots Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, third at Skate Canada, and US pair Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier, Skate America runners-up.

Ice dancers Madison Chock and Evan Bates of the United States are looking for a second win after Skate America.

Chock and Bates, fifth at last year's world championship, will battle two Russian pairs - Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov, and Elena Ilinykh and Ruslan Zhiganshin.

After the Cup of Russia the six-leg ISU series moves to Bordeaux for the Trophee Bompard in France, and the NHK Trophy in Osaka, Japan.

All skaters must compete in two events with the top six in each of the four disciplines - men's, women's, pairs and ice dance - qualifying for the Barcelona finale from December 11-14.

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