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Russians Count Down to Beijing
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The World Cup that begins Thursday in Moscow is a major step to the upcoming Olympics, Russian veterans Anna Pavlova and Anton Golotsutskov told IG Wednesday.

"This is one of the test events for the Olympic Games," said Pavlova, a 2004 Olympian. "Therefore, this meet has major significance."

The "World Stars" World Cup will be held Thursday and Friday at Moscow's Olimpysky Arena.

Top all-arounders Yulia Lozhechko and Maxim Devyatovsky will skip the competition. Devyatovsky, who led Russia to the team title at the European Championships in early May, has been given vacation time to spend with his young son before the Olympics.

The women's team will be composed of Pavlova (vault, balance beam); world uneven bars champion Ksenia Semyonova (bars and beam); Ksenia Afanasyeva (floor exercise and another event to be determined); and Kristina Goryunova (vault, floor exercise).

The Russian men's team in Moscow will be Golotsutskov (floor exercise and vault); Konstantin Pluzhnikov (still rings); Anatoly Vasilyev (floor exercise, high bar); Yuri Ryazanov (pommel horse, parallel bars); Vladimir Olennikov (pommel horse, parallel bars); and Ruslan Nigmadzyanov (pommel horse, still rings).

Though Russia's Olympic team won't be selected until after the Russian Cup in July, Golotsutskov said the World Cup holds great significance.

"This tournament is the next step to the Olympic Games," Golotustskov told IG.

Golotsutskov, the reigning European champion on floor exercise, said he plans to withold some skills in Moscow from his planned Olympic sets.

"I won't be doing all my difficulty," he said.

Questionable for Beijing are veterans Yelena Zamolodchikova and Alexander Safoshkin. Zamolodchikova, 25, has been plagued by injuries, though the two-time Olympian is still training at the Round Lake national training center.

Safoshkin, 32, is suffering from an arm injury, and the still rings specialist may not have enough time to heal before July's selection.

Russia will choose its Olympic squads following the Russian Cup, July 1-7 in Lobnya. The team will then train in the Siberian city of Leninsk-Kuznetsky before going to China for the Olympics, which begin Aug. 9.

External Link: Russian Gymnastics Federation

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