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Thread: Possible alternative nationalities in singles skating

  1. #31
    EZETTIE LATUASV IVAKMHA CaroLiza_fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    ^ That must be the most closely guarded secret since President Obama was born in Timbuktu.
    What?! Obama's from Timbuktu?! I thought he was from Moneygall, Co. Offaly!!!


    Quote Originally Posted by silverlake22 View Post
    Is Pogorilaya a Russian last name? It sounds sort of exotic, and despite her blonde hair I was noticing Anna does have a darker skin complexion compared to most of her Russian teammates. I wonder if her father is Armenian...Pogosyan is a common Armenian surname and sounds rather similar.
    I've often though myself that Anna doesn't really look like a typical Russian. And yes, her skin colour does suggest something more Middle Eastern.

    However, I just did a search for the surname Pogorilaya on both Google (an advanced search for results without the word "Anna" in them), and on vKontakte. And most of the results coming up are of people from the Ukraine, or at least living in Russia, but near the Ukrainian border.


    Quote Originally Posted by golden411 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Olympia View Post
    And then of course there's Misha Ge. I had to look him up because he's a walking, talking United Nations: part Russian, part Chinese, part Korean, lived all over the place including the U.S. This is a guy who should consider skating for Korea, not Russia
    Ge skates for Uzbekistan, not for Russia.
    I think Olympia is referring to the fact that Misha Ge was born in Russia rather than mistakingly saying that he skates for Russia. (She wouldn't make that sort of silly mistake! )

    But, of the options available to him, I think Misha has definitely gone down the right route with skating for Uzbekistan!

    I have to say, I loved the way Olympia described Misha as " a walking, talking United Nations"!

    When I read the phrase, I instantly thought of Nicole Scherzinger. Imagine if she was a figure skater rather than a singer. Who would she represent?

    1. the USA (via her Mum being half-Hawaiian);
    2. Russia (via her Mum being half-Russian);
    3. the Philippines (via her Dad being of Filipino descent);
    4. Germany (via her step-Dad being of German descent)



    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    Ashley Wagner, on the other hand was born in Germany.
    The difference with Ashley is that she was born on an American military base in Germany.

    Now, I admit that I know nothing about this sort of thing, but I have a feeling that US military bases are classed as American territory, and as such are run under American law rather than local law. Therefore, any babies born on the base are still classed as being American.

    On the other hand, with a surname like Wagner, she is bound to have German blood in her anyway! But, I am not sure if it is recent enough in itself to entitle her to German nationality.


    Quote Originally Posted by sky_fly20 View Post
    Samantha Cesario - Italy once Kostner retires
    Now I would love to see that switch! Cesario should have been competing as a senior for years now, but there just aren't enough slots in the American team for her. But, Italy would definitely be a good option! After seeing her at Junior Worlds, Cesario is definitely good enough to get into that team!

    But, as Carolina was my first skating crush, I don't want to see her retire any time soon!!!

    CaroLiza_fan

  2. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaroLiza_fan View Post

    For example, do any of the skaters from St. Pertersburg by any chance have an Estonian or Finnish grandparent? I don’t know too much about the demographic make-up of St. Petersburg, but due to the location of the city, I would expect it to have quite sizable communities from Finland or the Baltic States.
    LOL, there is no sizable Finnish communities in St.Petersburg, if any community at all. Finnish people seldom go to Russia even for a vacation. Although it is physically close, in every other aspect it's very far away.

  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Olympia View Post
    It would be good for Australia, too.
    Yes definitely!

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    Quote Originally Posted by glam View Post
    Finnish people seldom go to Russia even for a vacation.
    Any liquor store owner in St-Petersburg will tell you otherwise.

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    "Pogo" is a common first part of many Armenian surnames, but yes Pogorelay (which I assume Pogorilaya is derived from) is primarily Ukranian it would appear. Ukraine is located farther south compared to Russia so that could explain her darker complexion, but I'm still not convinced she doesn't have Armenian roots (a close friend of mine is part Armenian, and she has a sister that looks very similar to Anna - blonde with blue eyes but darker eyebrows and skin, very pretty!). But I am not sure. So far she seems to be doing okay representing Russia though, but perhaps in the future she could skate for Ukraine or Armenia!

    And ITA about Cesario and Italy. Also wonder about Yasmin and Armin skating for Iran. Have there ever been any Iranian skaters before? That would be cool, and they are both so quality, but not likely to go too far in the US.

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    Quote Originally Posted by silverlake22 View Post
    Also wonder about Yasmin and Armin skating for Iran. Have there ever been any Iranian skaters before? That would be cool, and they are both so quality, but not likely to go too far in the US.
    Iran is not a member of the ISU. I don't know that they have any ice rinks.

    In the 1970s I had a skating friend (in the US) whose father was from Iran and she used to joke about representing Iran. That was in the days of the Shah, before Islamic Revolution, so culturally it would have been more plausible then than now.

    I just did a search for "figure skating Iran" and came up with a few links about inline (roller) figure skating including videos and also a couple of sites that mentioned or focused on Yasmin Siraj.

    If inline figure skating is an option, then conceivably figure skating on ice could also be possible if the ice were available and the formation of a skating federation. But I don't expect that to happen within the careers of current senior-level competitors.

  7. #37
    EZETTIE LATUASV IVAKMHA CaroLiza_fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gkelly View Post
    Iran is not a member of the ISU. I don't know that they have any ice rinks.

    In the 1970s I had a skating friend (in the US) whose father was from Iran and she used to joke about representing Iran. That was in the days of the Shah, before Islamic Revolution, so culturally it would have been more plausible then than now.

    I just did a search for "figure skating Iran" and came up with a few links about inline (roller) figure skating including videos and also a couple of sites that mentioned or focused on Yasmin Siraj.

    If inline figure skating is an option, then conceivably figure skating on ice could also be possible if the ice were available and the formation of a skating federation. But I don't expect that to happen within the careers of current senior-level competitors.
    I wasn't born until 1985, but from what I have heard, Iran was one of the most liberal countries in the Middle East before the Revolution. So, I wouldn't be surprised if they had been considering a figure skating programme. They might even have built a rink.

    But since the Revolution, figure skating would be a definite no-no! Especially for the females!

    Incidentally, I just repeated your search to find the roller videos. And I have to say, I was actually very impressed with what I saw!

    Quote Originally Posted by silverlake22 View Post
    Also wonder about Yasmin and Armin skating for Iran. Have there ever been any Iranian skaters before? That would be cool, and they are both so quality, but not likely to go too far in the US.
    I hadn't come across Yasmin before you mentioned her, and although I'd seen Armin at GP's, I couldn't remember anything about him. So, I just looked them both up.

    Armin's Wikipedia article didn't really talk much about his family background, except to tell us what his name means in Persian. So, according to Wikipedia, it would seem that Iran is his only other option.

    Yasmin's Wikipedia article, confirmed that her Mum is Iranian. However, it also told us that her Dad is from Saudi Arabia.

    Now, Saudi Arabia is a totally different matter. Although they like to think that they're strict, Saudi Arabia is more liberal than most other Muslim countries in the Middle East.

    And a quick search on Google tells us that they have at least one rink (in Jeddah)!!!

    So, Saudi Arabia would be a much better option for Yasmin. And hey, let's face it, there is no shortage of oil money to fund a figure skating programme for the country.

    CaroLiza_fan

  8. #38
    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saudi_A...t_the_Olympics

    Saudi Arabia needs a woman to represent it at the Winter Olympics, if it ever wants to field a team (which it hasn't, as yet) (see above what they had to go through at the last summer Olympics)

    The issue of women's participation





    Wojdan Shaherkani, first female competitor from Saudi Arabia to compete at any Olympics in any event, at the 2012 Summer Olympics, in Judo
    By Saudi Arabian law, women were, until recently, not permitted to compete in the Olympic Games.[1] However, following the International Olympic Committee pressuring the Saudi Olympic Committee to send female athletes to the 2012 Summer Olympics, in June 2012 the Saudi Embassy in London announced this had been agreed.[2][3]

    There were calls for Saudi Arabia to be barred from the Olympics until it permitted women to compete—notably from Anita DeFrantz, chair of the International Olympic Committee's Women and Sports Commission, in 2010.[4] In 2008, Ali Al-Ahmed, director of the Institute for Gulf Affairs, likewise called for Saudi Arabia to be barred from the Games, describing its ban on women athletes as a violation of the International Olympic Committee charter. Stating that gender discrimination should be no more acceptable than racial discrimination, he noted: "For the last 15 years, many international nongovernmental organizations worldwide have been trying to lobby the IOC for better enforcement of its own laws banning gender discrimination. [...] While [its] efforts did result in increasing numbers of women Olympians, the IOC has been reluctant to take a strong position and threaten the discriminating countries with suspension or expulsion."[5]

    Dalma Rushdi Malhas competed at the 2010 Singapore Youth Olympics and won a bronze medal in equestrian (see Saudi Arabia at the 2010 Summer Youth Olympics).

    Saudi Arabia agreed on July 12, 2012, to send two women to compete in the 2012 Olympic games in London, England. The two female athletes are Wodjan Ali Seraj Abdulrahim Shahrkhani in judo and 800-meter runner Sarah Attar.[6] Prior to June 2012, Saudi Arabia had banned female athletes from competing at the Olympics.[7] Every country competing at the London Games will include female athletes for the first time in Olympic history.[8]
    Perhaps she can compete for Bahrain, which has an indoor ski slope and may want to compete at the next winter olympics?

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    Quote Originally Posted by chuckm View Post
    Agnes Zawadzki was BORN IN POLAND!
    Agnes was born in Niles, Illinois......

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    Quote Originally Posted by glam View Post
    LOL, there is no sizable Finnish communities in St.Petersburg, if any community at all. Finnish people seldom go to Russia even for a vacation. Although it is physically close, in every other aspect it's very far away.
    This is actually the topic of my PHD thesis, so perhaps I can shed some light on it!

    St Petersburg actually did have a sizable Finnish-speaking community for most of its history. They were known as the Ingrian Finns (Inkerisuomalaiset). Look them up on wikipedia! Most (about 65,000) left Russia after 1990 when the Finnish government announced they could receive Finnish residency permits. However, that law was reversed in 2010, so it wouldn't be much good to any skaters with Finnish ancestry left in Russia now.

    It is kind of true that Finns don't travel much to St Petersburg, even though it's so close. The complicated visa process (and high cost of visas) puts a barrier up, so it's not like you can just hop across to Russia from Helsinki like you can to Sweden or Estonia. It's a shame though, St Petersburg is very beautiful

    Anyway, can anyone tell me, what are Polina K's and Anna Ovcharova's connections to Estonia and Switzerland? I'm very curious!

  11. #41
    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    Welcome to Golden Skate, Mallory Archer! Post long & often!

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    Even if Agnes wanted to switch to Poland, it's probably not a feasible option for her because she probably wouldn't be allowed to compete internationally for a very long time. It's rumored that U.S. Figure Skating told Morgan Matthews they would hold her for FOUR years because of her competitive record. Since Agnes had two World Junior medals, they could likewise block her for a long time. I don't think Agnes being entitled to Polish citizenship would help her much. Volosozhar still had to get a release from Ukraine even though her Russian ancestry allowed her to get Russian citizenship very quickly.

    I think many of the suggestions just aren't feasible for the skaters unfortunately. It seems Russia's relations with Georgia are really tense (see poor Gedevanishvili's experiences). Countries like Estonia, Latvia, Lithunia, and Ukraine have large Russian minorities which has also caused some tensions. The non-Russians feel a bit threatened culturally and citizenship tends to be a very sensitive issue in those countries. They generally don't allow duel citizenship. Volosozhar apparently had to relinquish her Ukrainian citizenship.

    But Armenia, Azerbaijan, and the Central Asian republics could be a good idea for some Russian skaters. I heard that Evgenia Medvedeva is half-Armenian. She does appear quite southern, moreso than Pogorilaya.

    Quote Originally Posted by MalloryArcher View Post
    Anyway, can anyone tell me, what are Polina K's and Anna Ovcharova's connections to Estonia and Switzerland? I'm very curious!
    I don't think Polina K has any connection to Estonia, it was just a random suggestion. As for Ovcharova, apparently part of her family had moved over there and she liked the country so she decided to move there too.

  13. #43
    EZETTIE LATUASV IVAKMHA CaroLiza_fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dorispulaski View Post
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saudi_A...t_the_Olympics

    Saudi Arabia needs a woman to represent it at the Winter Olympics, if it ever wants to field a team (which it hasn't, as yet) (see above what they had to go through at the last summer Olympics)
    Even better if the Arabian team can get Yasmin to switch then, as it would allow them to kill 2 birds with one stone! They would get a way into competing at the Winter Olympics, and get a pretty decent skater into the bargain at the same time.

    Quote Originally Posted by dorispulaski View Post
    Perhaps she can compete for Bahrain, which has an indoor ski slope and may want to compete at the next winter olympics?
    Mmmm. Not sure about what relationships there are between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. The Wikipedia article on the matter doesn't really tell us much. So, I'm not sure whether it would be possible for somebody from one country to represent the other or not.


    Quote Originally Posted by cassiem View Post
    Even if Agnes wanted to switch to Poland, it's probably not a feasible option for her because she probably wouldn't be allowed to compete internationally for a very long time. It's rumored that U.S. Figure Skating told Morgan Matthews they would hold her for FOUR years because of her competitive record. Since Agnes had two World Junior medals, they could likewise block her for a long time. I don't think Agnes being entitled to Polish citizenship would help her much. Volosozhar still had to get a release from Ukraine even though her Russian ancestry allowed her to get Russian citizenship very quickly.
    WOW! With all the switching countries going on in Ice Dancing and Pairs Skating, I didn't think embargoes existed in figure skating.

    But, I do know all too well about embargoes that are incurred when a sportsperson switches countries, as it is currently happening with 2 guys I know personally.

    In terms of sport, the school I went to is best known for field hockey. Indeed, quite a few guys I went to school with have played hockey for Ireland (Northern Ireland doesn't have it's own hockey team; instead there is an all-Ireland team, which is dominated by Northern players).

    2 of these guys who I went to school with (David Ames and Ian Sloan) announced a few months ago that they are to switch to playing for Great Britain (Story on BBC website). Personally, I think they're mad - Great Britain has a larger population than Ireland; so there is a bigger pool of players to select from in GBR than there is in IRE; therefore you are less likely to get selected for GBR than you are for IRE.

    Both players are now on a 3-year embargo from international hockey. Which, given how good they are, is a real shame. Also, taking 3 years out from a sport is always risky, as things move on and the people in charge may forget about you. (Mind you, taking time out didn't do Kim Yu-Na any harm. Although, for her, it was only 18 months as opposed to 36 months).

    However, I do think David and Ian timed the decision to switch countries very cleverly, as they are both at University now, and the embargo will allow them to concentrate on their studies without the added distraction of an international hockey career.

    But, personally, I don't agree with embargoes, as long periods of time out of action often destroy promising sporting careers. In my opinion, embargoes are just a way for the former country represented to punish the sportsperson for choosing to leave them .

    CaroLiza_fan

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    Regarding American skaters like Zawadzki, Cain, and Cesario, I imagine the reason they're still skating for the United States is because the star potential of American ladies figure skating is still miles and miles ahead of any of their country options. Kristi, Nancy, Michelle, Tara, Sasha all got huge endorsements and touring contracts and were immensely popular, but any one of them probably aspire to pull off a Sarah Hughes (Zawadzki in particular), who didn't do too shabby after stealing away the gold in Salt Lake City. Cain is still young and judges loved her on the JGP (not to mention that as hard it is to find a pairs partner in the US, it's still a lot easier than looking in Australia or waiting for someone to be released to skate for Australia). As for Cesario, she may be quite a few generations removed from Italy...and after the Italian fed debacle with Kostner and Olympic spots, perhaps Samantha would rather take her chances in the US, where at least she is a fan favorite because she easily looks and skates the part of the American ice princess. And despite missing nationals twice, she was still getting international assignments, so she probably still thought she could make a splash at some point. Of course there isn't a big American star now and the USFS isn't promoting a Gracie-Ashley rivalry as much as it probably could, but history is probably causing many American girls to hold on to the hope of Wheaties boxes, Campbell's soup commercials, Time Magazine covers, etc.

    Ksenia Makarova really lucked out being in the right time and place of having Russian citizenship at a time when the Russian ladies field was really uncompetitive. Figure skating is of course huge in Russia and the country was primed for a new Irina (too bad Ksenia never really delivered). Anyways, I just don't really see any American skater with a full or almost-full set of triples switching to any country other than Russia, Japan, or perhaps Canada...Russia is now too competitive, Japan has been consistently competitive for over a decade, star potential in Canada seem to rise and fall and at this current time, is looking to be competitive for the next Olympiad. Looking beyond 2014, the question is probably Japan, which doesn't really have anyone lined up except Kanako Murakami. Mirai Nagasu is entitled to dual Japanese citizenship until she has to choose on her 22nd birthday, which won't happen until the end of the 2014-15 season, (if my math is correct, that means she could sit out next season and compete fully starting July 2014, since the rule is no international competitions within 12 months prior and no championships within 18 months prior to July 1 of a future season...so Mirai's last international comp being NHK 2012, just barely squeezes her in). So in effect she could try her luck for Japan in 2014-15, and decide whether to keep skating for Japan or pull a Tanaka and switch back on her birthday in April 2015. And then if she sits out another 12 mo or 18 mo depending on whether she represents Japan in a championship event, should she choose the American citizenship, she should be able to be released from Japan by the 2017-18 season. Not that I'm recommending or even thinking this could be a realistic option, but it's fun to speculate.

    Quote Originally Posted by MalloryArcher View Post
    Anyway, can anyone tell me, what are Polina K's and Anna Ovcharova's connections to Estonia and Switzerland? I'm very curious!
    Anna Ovcharova has been living in Geneva since December 2011. She attends a prep school there and is training with Lambiel's coach Peter Grutter and choreographer Salome Brunner. She competed at Swiss nationals this season and won the silver--she can compete internationally next season but not the Olympics. It seems that Swiss naturalization law requires 12 years residency (with years between ages 10-20 counting double); since my math is terrible I'm not sure if that means Ovcharova will barely make or miss getting citizenship by 2018 Olys (I don't know if Switzerland has any expedited path, anyone know?). Ovcharova actually has some other "possible alternate nationalities." On her Formspring she has mentioned having some Ukrainian heritage too. And her family also has a house in France, which seems to have less strict requirements for naturalization and has a history of giving expedited citizenship to skaters (it only took Vanessa James two years to get her French passport), although French Nationals is a tougher field than Swiss.

    Ovcharova is an interesting case/exception amongst the Russian girls. Since the Soviet era and into today many (most?) of the top skaters came from very poor family backgrounds who were highly driven in skating because it was their ticket out of poverty. Kudriavtsev has said that money was Kulik's primary motivator, and I remember a video of 10-yr old Gachinski saying the same. There are a lot more "middle-class" skaters in Russia today than in the 90s, but very few would be able to afford the cost of private coaching in North America or Western Europe. Before her senior GP international success no doubt brought her more sponsors and funding that allowed her family to move to St. Petersburg, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva had to take 20-hour train rides between her hometown of Glazov and St Pete to train with Mishin every few weeks because her family could not afford to move to the bigger city. Contrast that to Ovcharova who, when she lived in Moscow, was driven to her rink everyday by the family driver.

    I find this contrast really interesting--we've seen this story time and time again in the USA media between skaters whose parents were either penny-pinching immigrant restaurant-owners (Kwan, Nagasu) and wealthy (often Jewish) lawyers (Cohen, Hughes, Lipinski), but we rarely ever hear anything besides the rise-out-of-poverty/single-motherhood story from Russian skaters (Plushenko being the posterboy). Anna Ovcharova seems to be a very different (rare) breed of Russian skater--one who skates only because she truly loves it and prioritizes artistry (I imagine it's much easier to get in touch with your voidy side when you're not facing the constant pressure of earning funding/keeping the support of your coach and federation, which seems to demand consistent 3-3's over everything else). Going forward, her path will probably be very different from the other Russian girls. Of course I don't know everyone's financial situations, but I kept quite a few of the wonder girls we saw at nationals and junior nationals to simply get lost in the shuffle. Expectedly, puberty and injury will take a few of them out, but I imagine a few more will face that cycle of skating badly at some domestic comp/test skate/nats, not get the prestigious international assignments, lose the primary attention of their coach, and regress in their skills. If their reputation/ability isn't high enough to truly impress a small foreign federation, offers to switch countries may not come with enough funding, if any. Someone like Ovcharova may end up outlasting them all barring injury (though not necessarily at a worlds-top-10 level). It makes me wonder about Menshov's background--we rarely ever see Russian male skaters train and compete so long without much national success--Menshov didn't win nationals until he was 27, I can't imagine the federation funding him enough to train fulltime for so long - did he have another job/source of income/family money?

    One question I do have, is so many naturalization laws require an individual to be at least 18 years old; and children can receive citizenship if their parents meet the nationalization requirements. Now this is purely speculation, but would someone like Serafima Sakhanovich (or any even younger prodigy we haven't even heard of yet) compete for a different country at the 2018 games? Sakhanovich's birthday is February 8, 2000, which means she turns 18 one day before the 2018 Opening Ceremony (scheduled for February 9)...surely she would have to present proof of citizenship by an earlier entry deadline. Are there any special paths for under-18s, especially if switching within the former Soviet Union? While I can see countries offering citizenships to promising athletes, I can't imagine any government willing to to give out extra companion citizenships to parents who don't have any special talent to offer themselves. (speaking only of naturalization---of course children often have citizenships by birth that their parents don't have...but I've never heard of a minor getting naturalized by himself/herself).


    Quote Originally Posted by CaroLiza_fan View Post
    Armin's Wikipedia article didn't really talk much about his family background, except to tell us what his name means in Persian. So, according to Wikipedia, it would seem that Iran is his only other option.
    While we generally equate Persia with Iran, culturally and linguistically Persia's influence is much greater and a person with a Persian name could have roots in over half a dozen countries around Iran. Nevertheless, I would guess Armin's family is most likely from Iran (lots in the USA and huge Iranian-American population in the DC area where he is from), but Iran was quite the melting-pot itself, so Armin may easily have some other ties. The "-zadeh" surname suffix is fairly common both in and around Iran, especially in Azerbaijan and amongst the Azeri minority in Iran, which is why I actually think Armin should be looking at Azerbaijan (and not in the typical association we have of skaters switching to Azerbaijan as a last resort a la Joelle Forte and Fedor Andreev). There has been a large (16%) Azeri population in Iran for centuries and substantial intermarriage/integration that Armin may easily be Azeri or have Azeri ancestors. Iranian-Azeris were encouraged to adopt Persian names, and upwardly mobile Iranian Azeris living in the major cities in the early 20th century often identified culturally as Persian. Armin if you're reading this, start working that family tree! We all know that an Azerbaijan passport is very easy to get, and while its skating fed/olympic committee did deserve all the ridicule it got for essentially buying foreign talent, it's time the Azerbaijan skating fed earns some legitimacy. This doesn't have to be Armin (who, idk, may not necessarily have any Azeri heritage at all, it's all speculative--still, even if he doesn't, his Persian name wouldn't cause any casual Azeri sports fan to raise an eyebrow), but perhaps there are younger skaters out there with some forgotten Azeri heritage (perhaps even Siraj?); it would certainly legitimize them more than getting second-rate skaters from Mother Russia. On a political tangent, Azerbaijan is now keen to annex the Azeri part of Iran, and getting some Iranian-Azeri-American athletes to embrace their Azeri heritage would certainly help its case.

  15. #45
    the Golden Era sky_fly20's Avatar
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    How about South Korea ? once Kim Yuna retires
    I know they have Hae Jin and Park but they need more depth
    Julia Li should definitely consider this, though citizenship might be a thorn
    Julia jumps rippon lutzes and flips: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqzFWG16sGg

    also known Tursynbaeva who will compete for Kazakhstan this coming JGP: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_bjH1qkqp-U

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