MOSCOW, April 7 (R-Sport) - Ice dance pair Elena Iliniykh and Nikita Katsalapov have split up less than two months after winning gold and bronze at the Sochi Olympics, Ilinykh and her new partner told R-Sport on Monday.
Ilinykh and Katsalapov were part of the Russian team that won gold in the new team event in Sochi, and also took bronze in ice dance behind U.S. winners Meryl Davis and Charlie White.
Ilinykh, 19, will now skate with former world junior champion Ruslan Zhiganshin, while reports in the Russian media suggest Katsalapov will team up with Zhiganshin's previous partner, Viktoria Sinitsina.
"Today, Lena [Ilinykh] and I are contacting the federation with a declaration that we will be skating together," Zhiganshin told R-Sport. "Lena and I already had a test skate last week."
Ilinykh suggested she had not wanted to split from Katsalapov.
"Nikita came up to me April 4 at our scheduled medical exam and thanked me for my contribution and said that he won't compete with me any more," she told R-Sport. "The initiative to split up our pair came from him, I'd like to underline that."
The split comes in the face of fierce opposition from Valentin Piseev, who as general director of the Russian Figure Skating Federation has extensive influence over which skaters are selected for major international competitions.
"I'm absolutely not a supporter of this and I don't think that anyone will support this idea," Piseev told R-Sport when rumors of a split first emerged at last month's world championships.
"How is that possible, to break up two pairs of the top three in the country and to try to destroy dance in Russia?"
In a separate development, Russia's European silver medal-winning pairs skaters Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov, who finished sixth at the Olympics, are also to split up, Larionov said last week.
Larionov said the split had come out about because he felt they had become stale as a pair.