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    Russian Athletes to Watch at the Olympics (PHOTOS)

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    Even though the country isn't even on the search list on the official Olympic website (you have to look for "Olympic Athletes from Russia"), Russians still have plenty of heroes to cheer for at the games.

    With the opening ceremony just hours away, the final roster of Russian athletes invited to compete under a neutral flag is set. And while multiple doping bans left the squad depleted and a high team finish is out of the question, fans can still expect a few podium finishes at the least.

    Alpine Skiing: Alexander Khoroshilov

    Alexander Khoroshilov
    © Sputnik / Alexandr Kryazhev
    Alexander Khoroshilov

    Khoroshilov is Russia's most experienced and decorated downhill skier at the games. The 33-year-old became the first Russian to win a World Cup event, triumphing in Schladming, Austria in 2015.

    Bobsleigh: Vasily Kondratenko

    Vasily Kondratenko
    © Sputnik / Nina Zotina
    Vasily Kondratenko

    Among the 10 bobsledders invited to Pyeongchang, Vasily Kondratenko is Russia's best bet for medals. The 28-year-old clearly just entered his prime, peaking with a first place finish at a 4-man event in Whistler last year.

    READ MORE: CAS Registers Two Appeals by Russians Against IOC Olympic Bans

    Cross-country skiing: Alexander Bolshunov

    Alexander Bolshunov
    © Sputnik / Alexander Vilf
    Alexander Bolshunov

    The 21-year-old Bryansk native has five third-place finishes under his belt this season, and will look to spearhead the otherwise terribly shorthanded nordic skiing contingent in Korea.

    Yulia Belorukova

    Yulia Belorukova
    © Sputnik / Alexander Vilf
    Yulia Belorukova

    Belorukova's season was highlighted by a second place finish in team sprint in Lahti, Finland, while the 23-year-old also added a bronze in a sprint classic event at Ruka, Finland.

    Curling: Uliana Vasileva and Anastasia Bryzgalova (second from left, and second from right)

    Uliana Vasileva (2L)
    © Sputnik / Anton Denisov
    Uliana Vasileva (2L)

    Russia's female curling team has traditionally been the one to watch for the men in the audience without a clue about the actual rules of the game. This year's rendition not only still looks good, but can count on a strong performance as well.

    Figure skating: Evgenia Tarasova-Vladimir Morozov

    Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov
    © Sputnik / Ramil Sitdikov
    Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov

    The pairing of Tarasova and Morosov has won two Grand Prix events last year, edging out competition in Grenoble and Moscow. The 23-year-old Tarasova was born in Kazan and started out as a single skater. Her 25-year-old partner was born in Postdam Germany, where his father served in the military. The duo has been performing together since 2012.

    READ MORE: Bobrova and Tarasova Named Russian Team Captains for the Olympics

    Jonathan Guerreiro and Tiffany Zahorski

    Tiffany Zahorski and Jonathan Guerreiro (Russia) perform their free dance in the ice dancing competition at the European Figure Skating Championships in Moscow.
    © Sputnik / Ramil Sitdikov
    Tiffany Zahorski and Jonathan Guerreiro (Russia) perform their free dance in the ice dancing competition at the European Figure Skating Championships in Moscow.

    This duo is mostly interesting for their personal journeys rather than professional achievements. Zagorski, 23, was born in London, moved to train in France in 2007, and finally relocated to Moscow where she teamed up with Gurreiro, receiving Russian citizenship in 2014. Her 26-year-old partner was born and grew up in Australia before migrating to Moscow to pursue his skating ambitions. "Jonathan is a wonderful partner, I like skating with him very much. Our characters are very similar. We are both positive, so we found a common language at once," says Zagorski.

    Alina Zagitova

    European Figure Skating Championships. Women's free skating
    © Sputnik / Grigoriy Sisoev
    European Figure Skating Championships. Women's free skating

    At 15 years of age, Alina is the youngest Russian athlete in Pyeongchang, but she already boasts a couple of Grand Prix wins at singles events at Grenoble and Beijing this season. Her father is an ice-hockey coach and she was named after the famed Russian rhythmic gymnast Alina Kabaeva.

    Freestyle skiing: Kristina Spiridonova

    Kristina Spiridonova (Russia) during the aerials competition at the 2016–17 FIS Freestyle Skiing World Cup Moscow. (File)
    © Sputnik / Evgenya Novozhenina
    Kristina Spiridonova (Russia) during the aerials competition at the 2016–17 FIS Freestyle Skiing World Cup Moscow. (File)

    The 19-year-old Ufa native's highlight this season was a second-place finish in the aerials at a World Cup event in Deer Valley, Utah. Spiridonova had to give up acrobatic gymnastics, but didn't want to leave sports completely, transitioning to aerial skiing. She is currently ranked third in the world in ladies' aerials.

    Maxim Burov

    Maxim Burov of Russia is seen here after men's aerials finals at the FIS Freestyle World Cup event in Moscow. (File)
    © Sputnik / Evgenya Novozhenina
    Maxim Burov of Russia is seen here after men's aerials finals at the FIS Freestyle World Cup event in Moscow. (File)

    At 19, Burov notched his first World Cup gold in the aerials at Deer Valley in January, capturing top spot in the World Cup rankings. He solidified his postion following up with another win at Lake Placid.

    Hockey: Ilya Kovalchuk

    Team Russia's Ilya Kovalchuk before the friendly hockey match between Team Russia and Spartak
    © Sputnik / Alexey Kudenko
    Team Russia's Ilya Kovalchuk before the friendly hockey match between Team Russia and Spartak

    Kovalchuk really needs no introduction and is probably the biggest Russian name at the games. The 34-year-old forward made history by becoming the first Russian player to be selected first overall when Atlanta Thrashers picked him in front of everybody else at the 2001 NHL draft. He appeared in over 800 NHL games before returning home to play for SKA St. Petersburg.

    Pavel Datsyuk

    Team Russia's Pavel Datsyuk during the friendly hockey match between Team Russia and Spartak
    © Sputnik / Alexey Kudenko
    Team Russia's Pavel Datsyuk during the friendly hockey match between Team Russia and Spartak

    Team captain Datsyuk is another huge name and at 39 years old, the oldest player on the roster. He's played in more than 950 NHL games before coming back to join forces with Kovalchuk at SKA. The four-time Olympic veteran's name is so prolific in the sport, that the term "Datsyukian" has become a part of the ice hockey lexicon used to describe particulary skillful offensive moves.

    READ MORE: Fans Meet Russian National Hockey Team in Seoul

    Lyudmila Belyakova

    Russian national women's ice hockey team player Lyudmila Belyakova during a training session at the Amur ice hockey center in Khabarovsk
    © Sputnik / Elena Rusko
    Russian national women's ice hockey team player Lyudmila Belyakova during a training session at the Amur ice hockey center in Khabarovsk

    In 2015, The squad's undisputed leader Belyakova signed a contract with the New York Riveter, becoming the first Russian to compete in the National Women's Hockey League (NWHL). The 23-year-old notched 11 points in 17 games before returning to the Russian WHL the following season.

    Luge: Semen Pavlichenko and Roman Repilov

    Semyon Pavlichenko (L) and Roman Repilov
    © Sputnik / Anton Denisov
    Semyon Pavlichenko (L) and Roman Repilov

    Coached by the legendary Albert Demchenko, both Repilov and Pavlichenko are gunning for the podium at the games. The 21-year-old Repilov is currently ranked third in the world in singles with two golds and six top-three finishes this season. Pavlichenko, 26 is right behind at the fourth spot in the rankings.

    Short Track Speed skating: Sofia Prosvirnova

    Russian athlete Sofya Prosvirnova during a training session at Yeongdong University ahead of the 23rd Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang
    © Sputnik / Vladimir Pesnya
    Russian athlete Sofya Prosvirnova during a training session at Yeongdong University ahead of the 23rd Winter Olympic Games in PyeongChang

    The 20-year-old will be competing in the ladies' short track as well as 3000m relay. Prosvirinova set a junior world record in the 500m at the 2014 World Championships in Turkey, and won the gold in the 1000m at the 2015 European Championships in Dordrecht, Netherlands.

    Skeleton: Nikita Tregubov

    Nikita Tregubov
    © Sputnik / Nina Zotina
    Nikita Tregubov

    At 22 years of age, Tregubov is a four-time World Junior Championships winner, currently ranked fifth in the world. The Krasnoyarsk native has also already had a taste of the Olympics, having finished sixth in Sochi four years ago.

    Ski jumping: Irina Avvakumova

    Irina Avvakumova
    © Sputnik / Vitaliy Belousov
    Irina Avvakumova

    Avvakumova, ranked fifth in the world, was part of the first Russian women's ski jumping team (along with teammates Anastasiya Barannikova, Alexandra Kustova and Sofia Tikhonova) on a World Cup podium, when they finished second at the 2017 World Cup in Hinterzarten, Germany. It was the first time a women's team event was held at a World Cup. In 2014 the 26-year-old became the first ski jumper from the country to win a World Cup event when she was victorious in the normal hill in Chaikovsky.

    Snowboarding: Andrey Sobolev

    Russia's Andrey Sobolev after men’s giant parallel slalom finals at the FIS World Snowboard Championship in Lachtal, Austria, during the awarding ceremony. (File)
    © Sputnik / Ramil Sitdikov
    Russia's Andrey Sobolev after men’s giant parallel slalom finals at the FIS World Snowboard Championship in Lachtal, Austria, during the awarding ceremony. (File)

    Sobolev, 28, is currently ranked third in the world in parallel slalom, having already represented Russia at the Sochi Olympics. His younger sister, Natalia is also on the team.

    Ekaterina Tudegesheva

    Ekaterina Tudegesheva (Russia) competes in the men's parallel giant slalom at the FIS Snowboard World Cup stage in Pyeongchang. (File)
    © Sputnik / Ramil Sitdikov
    Ekaterina Tudegesheva (Russia) competes in the men's parallel giant slalom at the FIS Snowboard World Cup stage in Pyeongchang. (File)

    Tudegesheva is a snowboarding heavyweight. The 30-year-old was the first Russian snowboarder to become a two-time world champion in the sport. The wins came in the parallel giant slalom in 2007, and in the parallel slalom in 2013. She's currently ranked second in the world in PS and hasn't missed the Olympics since Turin 2006.

    READ MORE: Russians Tough Enough to Slide Down On Belly Instead of Snowboard

    Vic Wild and Alena Zavarzina

    American-born Russian snowboarder, two-time Olympic champion of the year 2014 Vic Ivan Wild and Russian snowboarder, Olympic bronze medalist and World Cup stage medalist Alyona Zavarzina during the charity race Running Hearts. (File)
    © Sputnik / Evgenya Novozhenina
    American-born Russian snowboarder, two-time Olympic champion of the year 2014 Vic Ivan Wild and Russian snowboarder, Olympic bronze medalist and World Cup stage medalist Alyona Zavarzina during the charity race "Running Hearts". (File)

     

    This international snowboarding couple took Sochi by storm in 2014. Vic became frustrated with the lack of resources for US downhill snowboarders, married Alena in 2011 and was granted Russian citizenship in 2012 while retaining his US passport. He claimed gold in the parallel giant slalom in Sochi, with his wife taking bronze in the women's event. It was only the second time a husband and wife had won medals in the same event at the Olympics.

    Speed Skating: Angelina Golikova

    Angelina Golikova (Russia) after the women’s 500m in speed skating at the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. (File)
    © Sputnik / Vladimir Baranov
    Angelina Golikova (Russia) after the women’s 500m in speed skating at the XXII Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. (File)

    The Moscow native has a couple of team golds and three top-three finishes in the 500m to her name this season. At 26, Golikova is a Sochi 2014 veteran and will be competing in the ladies' 500m and 1000m in Pyeongchang.

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