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Nelli Nailevna Zhiganshina (Russian: Нелли Наильевна Жиганшина; born 31 March 1987) is a Russian-born German ice dancer. With Alexander Gazsi, she is a six-time German national champion (2007, 2011–2015) and has won twelve international medals. They have placed as high as 6th at the European Championships and 10th at the World Championships.[1]

Nelli Zhiganshina
Zhiganshina Gaszi DM2007 Kür.jpg
Zhiganshina/Gazsi during the free dance at the 2007 German Championships
Personal information
Full nameNelli Nailevna Zhiganshina
Alternative namesNelli Schiganschina
Country representedGermany
Former country(ies) representedRussia
Born (1987-03-31) 31 March 1987 (age 32)
Moscow, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Height1.66 m (5 ft 5 in)
PartnerAlexander Gazsi
Former partnerDenis Bazdirev (RUS)
CoachRostislav Sinicyn, Martin Skotnicky
Former coachAlexander Zhulin, Oleg Volkov, Elena Kustarova, Svetlana Alexeeva
ChoreographerStéphane Lambiel
Former choreographerIlia Averbukh, Maxim Staviski, Rostislav Sinicyn, Elena Kustarova, Natalia Ulianova
Skating clubEC Oberstdorf
Training locationsOberstdorf
Former training locationsMoscow
Began skating1990
ISU personal best scores
Combined total154.27
2013 Worlds
Short dance62.27
2014 World
Free dance93.68
2013 Worlds


Personal lifeEdit

Nelli Zhiganshina was born on 31 March 1987 in Moscow.[2] She is the elder sister of Ruslan Zhiganshin, who is a competitive ice dancer for Russia.[2] Their mother is a children's skating coach.[3]

Zhiganshina passed a German citizenship test in 2011[4] and filed documents to renounce her Russian citizenship, as required by Germany.[5] In November 2013, it was announced that she had been released by Russia, allowing her to take German citizenship.[6]


Early yearsEdit

Zhiganshina began skating in 1990 at the age of three. She took up ice dancing at 12.[3] Zhiganshina competed with Denis Bazdirev for Russia until the end of 2004, appearing four times on the ISU Junior Grand Prix series.

Partnership with Alexander GazsiEdit


In June 2005, Zhiganshina had a tryout with Alexander Gazsi in Moscow and agreed to skate with him for Germany.[7] At the start of their partnership, they trained mainly in Moscow with coaches Elena Kustarova and Svetlana Alexeeva and, during summers, in Berlin and Chemnitz due to Gazsi's army service.[3] They later changed coaches to Alexander Zhulin and Oleg Volkov, also in Moscow.

Zhiganshina/Gazsi won bronze at their first German Championships in 2006, their only competition of the season. The next season they won their first national title, placed 16th at the 2007 Europeans and 18th at Worlds.

During the 2007–08 season, they made their debut on the Grand Prix circuit, placing 7th at Skate Canada and 8th at Cup of Russia. They won silver at German Nationals and again finished 18th at Worlds.

During the 2008–09 season, Zhiganshina/Gazsi did not compete on the Grand Prix circuit. Zhiganshina continued to visit Germany on a three-month tourist visa because the low income from the sport meant she did not qualify for residency and Germany did not have as high caliber ice dancers as Moscow to train alongside.[8] Although favored to win 2009 German Nationals,[8] they placed second and missed the European and World teams. They considered leaving competition to focus on show skating and worked with circus acrobats in Moscow but decided to continue their competitive career and moved to Oberstdorf, Germany in spring 2009 to work with coaches Rostislav Sinicyn and Martin Skotnicky.[4] During the 2009–10 season, they placed third at German Nationals and were not sent to the European or World Championships. They were not eligible for the 2010 Winter Olympics due to Zhiganshina not having German citizenship.


Zhiganshina/Gazsi at Bompard 2013.

During the 2010–11 season, Zhiganshina/Gazsi again received no Grand Prix invitations but won three medals at senior B events. They won their second national title and were selected to compete at the European Championships for the first time in three years. At Europeans, they were 8th in the short dance,[9] then edged past Nóra Hoffmann / Maxim Zavozin by 0.39 points into 7th place overall after the free dance. This was the first top-ten result for German ice dancers since 2003 (Kati Winkler / Rene Lohse).[10] The result gave Germany two berths to the 2012 European ice dancing event.[11] Zhiganshina/Gazsi finished 11th at the 2011 World Championships, earning invitations to two Grand Prix events the following season.

In preparation for the 2011–12 season, Zhiganshina/Gazsi went to Sofia, Bulgaria, to work with choreographer Maxim Staviski, with whom they also worked in previous years.[12] They began their season at the 2011 Nebelhorn Trophy where they won the silver medal.[13][14] After placing fourth at both of their Grand Prix events, the 2011 Skate America and 2011 NHK Trophy, the duo finished eighth at the 2012 European Championships and eleventh at the 2012 World Championships.

In 2012–13, Zhiganshina/Gazsi placed a career-best sixth at the 2013 European Championships and tenth at the 2013 World Championships. As a result of their Worlds placement, Germany qualified two spots in ice dancing at the 2014 Olympics.

In 2013–14, Zhiganshina/Gazsi won their fifth national title and were selected to represent Germany at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Germany assigned them to the team event short dance, where they placed sixth; Germany, however, did not qualify for the free dance. Zhiganshina/Gazsi finished 11th in the separate ice dancing event.[15]


(with Gazsi)

Season Short dance Free dance Exhibition
Fredrik Rydman's
Swan Lake Reloaded[17]
  • Rothbart's Solo
  • Then There's Us
  • Don't Go
  • Rothbart's Solo
    choreo. by Stéphane Lambiel
  • Le Jazz Hot
    performed by Glee cast
  • Carrigan & Dibs
    by James Horner
  • Mrs. ES Dancecard
    by Elliot Goldenthal
  • I'm Happy
    by the Gorillaz
"Two from the Grave":
  • Tore My Heart
    performed by Oona
  • Et Maintenant
    by Jean-Marc Zelwer
  • Rama Lama
    by Roisin Murphy
Original dance
Ukrainian dance:
  • Black Eyebrows and Hazel Eyes
  • Marusia
    performed by Joseph Kobzon
  • New Tango Besta Rio
  • Sandunga
    by Arturo Sandoval
  • Summertime
    by George Gershwin
  • Jazz Police
    by Goodwin

Competitive highlightsEdit

GP: Grand Prix; CS: Challenger Series (began in the 2014–15 season); JGP: Junior Grand Prix

With Gazsi for GermanyEdit

Zhiganshina/Gazsi perform their zombie-themed free dance at the 2012 Nebelhorn Trophy
Zhiganshina/Gazsi perform their short dance at the 2012 Rostelecom Cup
Event 2005–06 2006–07 2007–08 2008–09 2009–10 2010–11 2011–12 2012–13 2013–14 2014–15
Olympics 11th
Worlds 18th 18th 11th 11th 10th 11th WD
Europeans 16th 7th 8th 6th 7th 7th
GP Bompard 4th
GP Cup of Russia 8th 5th
GP NHK Trophy 4th 4th
GP Skate America 4th 5th
GP Skate Canada 7th 6th 5th
CS Finlandia 2nd
CS Nebelhorn 4th 2nd 3rd 3rd
Golden Spin 5th 1st
NRW Trophy 2nd
Nepela Trophy 1st 6th 3rd 1st 5th
Pavel Roman 1st 3rd 1st 1st
Volvo Open 2nd
German Champ. 3rd 1st 2nd 2nd 3rd 1st 1st 1st 1st 1st
Team events
Olympics 8th
TBD = Assigned

With Bazdirev for RussiaEdit

Event 2002–03 2003–04 2004–05
JGP France 4th
JGP Italy 10th
JGP Mexico 7th
JGP Ukraine 6th
Russian Junior 7th 5th 9th


  1. ^ a b c "Competition Results: Nelli ZHIGANSHINA / Alexander GAZSI". International Skating Union.
  2. ^ a b c "Nelli ZHIGANSHINA / Alexander GAZSI: 2014/2015". International Skating Union.
  3. ^ a b c Mittan, Barry (17 December 2007). "German Dancers Make Good Start". SkateToday.
  4. ^ a b Flade, Tatjana (14 August 2011). "Zhiganshina and Gazsi turn disappointment into strength". GoldenSkate.
  5. ^ a b Flade, Tatjana (25 July 2013). "Zhiganshina and Gazsi looking to entertain again". Golden Skate.
  6. ^ "Eistanzen: Zhiganshina eingebürgert" [Ice dancing: Zhiganshina naturalized]. SID (in German). 2 November 2013.
  7. ^ "Eine eiskalte Karriere" [An ice-cold career]. Moskauer Deutsche Zeitung (in German). 11 November 2007.
  8. ^ a b Mai, Marina (15 December 2008). ""Wir passen zueinander wie zwei Puzzleteile"" [We fit together like two pieces of a puzzle] (in German). Die Tageszeitung. Archived from the original on 19 February 2012.
  9. ^ Flade, Tatjana (26 January 2011). "Pechalat and Bourzat grab lead in the Short Dance". Retrieved 6 February 2011.
  10. ^ Flade, Tatjana (29 January 2011). "Pechalat and Bourzat dance to first European title". Retrieved 6 February 2011.
  11. ^ "Hecken von Rang neun enttäuscht". SID Newsticker (in German). 28 January 2011. Archived from the original on 19 February 2012.
  12. ^ Gerontiev, Yavor (13 June 2011). "Двойка от Германия иска на олимпиада с Максим" [Pair from Germany consults Maxim] (in Bulgarian). 24 Chasa. Archived from the original on 19 February 2012.
  13. ^ Flade, Tatjana (22 September 2011). "Zhiganshina and Gazsi dance to lead at Nebelhorn". GoldenSkate. Retrieved 22 September 2011.
  14. ^ Flade, Tatjana (24 September 2011). "Hubbell and Donohue capture gold at Nebelhorn Trophy". GoldenSkate. Retrieved 24 September 2011.
  15. ^ "Nelli ZHIGANSHINA". Organizing Committee of the XXII Olympic Winter Games. Archived from the original on 20 March 2014.
  16. ^ Flade, Tatjana (16 August 2014). "Zhiganshina and Gazsi dance into new directions". Golden Skate.
  17. ^ Music composed by Salem Al Fakir, Moneybrother, Lune, Adiam Dymott, PH3 and Skizz, Mario Perez Amigo, and Simsoak."Fredrik Rydman´s Swan Lake Reloaded". Bandcamp. Retrieved February 8, 2015.
  18. ^ "Nelli ZHIGANSHINA / Alexander GAZSI: 2013/2014". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on 28 May 2014.
  19. ^ "Nelli ZHIGANSHINA / Alexander GAZSI: 2012/2013". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on 12 March 2013.
  20. ^ Flade, Tatjana (8 July 2012). "Zhiganshina and Gazsi prepare to up the ante". Golden Skate.
  21. ^ "Nelli ZHIGANSHINA / Alexander GAZSI: 2011/2012". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on 9 June 2012.
  22. ^ "Nelli ZHIGANSHINA / Alexander GAZSI: 2010/2011". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on 18 July 2011.
  23. ^ "Nelli ZHIGANSHINA / Alexander GAZSI: 2007/2008". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on 7 June 2008.
  24. ^ "Nelli ZHIGANSHINA / Alexander GAZSI: 2006/2007". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on 18 August 2007.
  25. ^ a b "Nelli ZHIGANSHINA / Denis BAZDIREV: 2004/2005". International Skating Union. Archived from the original on 3 November 2013.

External linksEdit