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Figure Skating - 09. November 2007.

U.S. PAIRS TEAM VLASSOV AND MEEKINS ANNOUNCE SPLIT


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Nov. 8, 2007) - U.S. pairs skaters Julia

Vlassov and Drew Meekins today announced the end of their partnership.

Their career highlights include the 2006 World Junior title, three

medals at the State Farm U.S. Championships and a silver medal at the

2005 Junior Grand Prix (JGP) Final. Both skaters plan on looking for new

partners immediately.

"I greatly regret that Julia and I will no longer be skating together,"

Meekins said in an e-mailed statement. "The six years we have been

together have been some of the happiest years of my life, and I am truly

heartbroken that we will not get to build upon the memories and

accomplishments that we have made."

Both skaters pointed to their size difference as the main reason they

are parting ways.

"In the new (judging) system, lifts and twists are worth a lot, more

than any other element," Vlassov said. "We're able to do them, but not

at the highest level."

The team paired up in 2002. Vlassov skated singles at the beginning of

their partnership, winning U.S. juvenile and intermediate titles in 2003

and 2004, respectively. They have been coached from the beginning by

Julia's father, Alexander, the European and World pairs silver medalist

with Irina Vorobieva in 1977, and Julia's mother, Laura Amelina.

Their first taste of success came at the 2004 U.S. Championships, where

they won novice gold. The next season they competed on the JGP Series

for the first time, finishing first and third at their two assignments

and qualifying for the JGP Final, where they took fourth. They concluded

that campaign by claiming the silver medal at the U.S. Championships as

juniors and recording a top-10 finish at the World Junior Championships.

Their best season came in 2005-06, when they medaled at every

competition they entered: silver and bronze at their two JGP

assignments, silver at the JGP Final, bronze at the U.S. Championships

in the junior division and gold at the World Junior Championships.

They started the 2006-07 season well, taking silver at the Nebelhorn

Trophy, but their transition to the senior level was a bit rocky. They

finished fifth at the Cup of China, sixth at the NHK Trophy and,

finally, seventh at the U.S. Championships.

Vlassov and Meekins were forced to withdraw from last week's Skate

Canada after Meekins dislocated his shoulder while the pair was trying

to execute a lift takeoff.

"I would like to thank my family, my friends and all of my fans for

their support throughout the years and at this time," Meekins said. "I

also would like to thank Julia, Laura and Alex, who have not only been a

great team to be a part of but have been like a second family to me, and

to whom I owe everything. I wish them all the best of luck."

- U.S. Figure Skating -

U.S. Figure Skating is the national governing body for the sport of

figure skating in the United States as recognized by the United States

Olympic Committee and the International Skating Union. U.S. Figure

Skating is comprised of more than 1,425 member clubs and Basic Skills

Programs representing approximately 184,000 members. U.S. Figure Skating

is charged with the development of the sport on all levels within the

United States, including athletes, officials, sanctioning of events and

exhibitions, and establishing the rules and guidelines by which the

sport is governed

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