Nathan Chenthe coach of, Rafael Arutunian, will not be able to be with Chen for Saturday’s free skate after Arutunian was stripped of his Skate Canada accreditation for his inadvertent violation of Covid-19 protocols at the event on Friday.
Reached by phone on Saturday as he went for a PCR test so he could leave Canada immediately after the free skate, Arutunian said he would watch Chen from the spectator seats. Chen won Friday’s short program to take a 12-point lead in the free play.
“Nathan said to me, ‘If you want to leave right away, it’s okay, I’ll take care of myself,'” Arutunian said.
Arutunian said he violated protocol due to a lack of signage at a time when he had to decide which direction to take. It ended up in spectator seats, which are outside the bubble in which skaters and coaches are required to stay.
“Skate Canada International was organized under strict COVID-19 protocols, which required areas of the hotel, transportation and venues accessible only to skaters and coaches to operate in a ‘bubble’ environment. Unfortunately, Mr. Arutyunan inadvertently exited the bubble while at the competition venue and as such was not eligible to re-enter, ”said the Skate Canada spokesperson. Amanda Speroni Recount NBCSports.com by email.
“It is an unfortunate situation and one that we have tried to avoid, but once an individual exits the bubble, they cannot re-enter it, otherwise the integrity of the entire COVID-19 protocol would be compromised. . “
Arutunian said his problems, first reported by a Russian journalist Elena Vaytsekhovskaya, started while on his way back to the ‘bubble hotel’ and ice dance coach Igor shpilband asked him to stay and give his opinion on his team, Diana davis and Gleb Smolkin.
Arutunian said he was on the wrong track because there was no indication he was leaving the bubble. He said a sign has since been added to make sure no one else is making the same mistake.
Speroni did not immediately respond to a question about the signage.
While trying to explain what happened to officials at the International Skating Union, Arutunian said the coordinator of the ISU figure skating event Wieland Lueders started “almost yelling” at him to get out of the bubble area.
The ISU did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
“I am angry and disappointed,” Arutunian said. “I tried to calm down but I can’t. I really want an apology from them (ISU).
“I fully understand their need (Covid protocols). I have no problem with that. What I don’t understand is that people tried to make me feel guilty for going in the wrong direction when nothing was telling me which direction to go.“
Arutunian thanked US Figure Skating for quickly arranging a room in a bubble-free building in the hotel. He also thanked Skate Canada for arranging a driver to take him through the PCR test.
He watched Chen’s practice on Saturday morning from the spectator area. He expects to speak to Chen by phone just before the free skate. Arutunian had planned to leave Canada on Sunday morning.
“American figure skating has nothing to add to what Skate Canada said in its statement,” USFS spokesperson Michel terry said by SMS.
Philip Hersh, who has covered figure skating at the last 11 Olympic Winter Games, is a special contributor to NBCSports.com/figure-skating.
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