2009 Russian Nationals - Figure Skating Highlights
Ladies Long, Pairs Short, and the Original Dance
January 3, 2009
Ladies (Long Program)
The first discipline to determine the Champion was the Ladies event, which concluded on Friday afternoon with the Ladies Long Program. In the end, Russia joined the recent trend of age-ineligible National Champions and set a record of the sort with two out of three medalists ineligible not only for Seniors, but also for Junior international events.
Elizaveta Tuktamisheva won the Long Program and moved up to capture the silver medal. The 12-year-old's inspiring performance featured six triple jumps, including a triple toe loop-triple toe loop combination and two triple Lutzes, as well as a sequence of two double Axels.
Tuktamisheva showed improved understanding of her music and better basic skating skills compared to her debut a year ago when she finished 10th. While the choreography of her program could have been more intricate, she executed all the moves in a neat and controlled manner and captured the heart of the audience with her charming presentation.
The student of Alexei Mishin received 110.06 points for the long program and with 159.58 points overall, fulfilled her stated goal of winning a National Championships medal by finishing a close second.
"There are two versions as to how I started skating," said Tuktamisheva at post event press conference. "Personally, I was too young, I just don't remember. I competed in Belgorod every year at the Alexei Mishin Cup, and one year I won it. Alexei Mikhailovich decided he would like to see me, and after he did, he took some time off to think it over. He [eventually] invited me to join the group."
Adelina Sotnikova won the title in her debut despite finishing second in the long program. The skater also attempted six triple jumps, but fell on her second triple Lutz and underrotated a triple toe loop in combination with a double Axel and double toe loop. She did, however, land clean a triple Lutz, flip, loop and Salchow, as well as a sequence of two double Axels.
While Sotnikova's jumping content was not as strong as Tuktamisheva's, her spins and spirals were much better, and her presentation and understanding of musical accents in her routine to Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake were more mature. The 12-year-old's major weakness at the moment, one which she shares with Tuktamisheva, seems to be quite typical for younger skaters: her stroking lacks power compared more seasoned competitors, which does not allow her to develop good flow across the ice. However, the precision of her moves is second to none, and she scored 105.62 points for her long program and 160.55 in total.
"My story is quite simple and straightforward," said Sotnikova when asked how she began skating. "I started skating just for fun, but soon they saw something in me and I was offered a chance to join the CSKA club. I started to work with Inna Germanovna, and then moved to Elena Vodorezova's group and then some choreographers joined the team."
"It's very important for me as a coach to have good students," added Vodorezova. "There aren't so many truly talented kids around. Inna Germanovna created a very promising group of kids who were born in 1996. Most of them now train with Alexei Tchevertukhin, but I kept Adelina in my group because she is determined, easy to work with, and a quick learner."
"She is also independent," continued Vodorezova. "I have a lot of students and sometimes I don't have time to greet her when she comes to practices. If she sees that I'm busy, she does not distract me and just starts working on her own or with Irina Tagaev on choreography or with any other coach in the group. There is no need to push her, which of course is good, because at her age pushing someone is not the best idea. But she just does not need it at all. It's good to have a girl among so many boys. She also very serious about her schoolwork."
Katarina Gerboldt finished third in the long program and overall with a passionate performance to Carmen in which she landed three clean triples and two triple Lutzes (which received warning for use of the wrong take off edge). Compared to her younger rivals, Gerboldt displayed more ice coverage and better speed across the ice, however her spins were relatively poor and the spiral sequence was slow. She earned 99.18 points for the long program and 149.31 points in total.
Gerboldt told the press that she took up skating as she was often sick as a young child. "My parents were told to send me to figure skating classes so improve my health. I had two other coaches before joining Alexei Mikhailovich's camp at the age of 11. Then I had to re-learn everything from the scratch. They are both excellent coaches and they taught me a lot and supported me even in my worst seasons when someone else would have probably given up."
Polina Shelepen moved up from ninth to sixth place overall (142.34 points) after finishing fourth in the long program (97.53 points). Though she fell on an underrotated triple Lutz and underrotated the flip (in combination with a double toe loop) in the second half of the program, her lyrical routine otherwise featured five clean triple jumps. Her spins and spiral sequence were also strong, with pleasant and effortlessly achieved positions.
Nina Petushkova, last year's silver medalist, failed to make the podium this time. The student of Zhanna Gromova opened her program with a solid double Axel-triple toe loop-double toe loop and a triple Lutz-double toe loop combinations, but later fell on an underrotated attempt of a second triple Lutz. She also had a minor stumble on her circular step sequence and the overall presentation of her program was quite weak. She gained 93.24 points for her long program, and with 145.18 points total, finished fourth overall.
Aliona Leonova, who was third coming into long program, had a disappointing outing after landing only four triple jumps. She finished finished sixth in the long program and fifth overall (143.49 points).
Arina Martinova and Alexandra Ievleva were not able to recover from their poor showings in the short program, and placed seventh and 11th overall, respectively.
Pairs (Short Program)
Coming off a disastrous performance in long program at the Grand Prix Final, Maria Mukhortova and Maxim Trankov delivered another clean run-through of their short program to Pink Floyd 's Nobody Home to win the Pairs Short Program competition. The skaters failed to execute a clean triple twist, but landed good side-by-side triple toe loops and a solid throw triple loop. The students of Oleg Vasiliev also had strong non-jumping elements and their program flowed well from one element to the next. They received 68.03 (37.49/30.54) points.
Yuko Kawaguchi and Alexander Smirnov, who were rumored to withdraw from the event due to illness, competed after all and placed second with 65.18 (34.64/30.54) points. However, their performance of the The Swan was marred by mistakes.
After executing a couple of clean triple twists during the warm up, Kawaguchi crashed on Smirnov's chest during the actual performance, while Smirnov stumbled out the landing of a triple toe loop. The team was also out of unison on their side-by-side spins later in the program.
Ksenia Krasilnikova and and Konstantin Bezmaternikh performed a solid, but somewhat uninspired program to Valpurgian Nights. The 2008 World Junior Champions executed nice side-by-side double Axels, a throw triple loop, and a slightly flawed triple twist. They received 59.68 (33.70/25.98) points for third place.
Their main rivals, Lubov Iliushechkina and Nodari Maisuradze, made a mistake on the side-by-side triple toe loops as Iliushechkina stepped out of hers and nearly ran into her partner. They only performed a double twist, but landed a clean throw triple loop. The choreography of their routine to Lorena McKennitt's Prologue was one of the highlights of the event.
The 2008-2009 Junior Grand Prix Final Champions also executed a series of complex and seamless transitions, but in the end, they had to rush to catch up with the music. The students of Natalia Pavlova placed fourth with 57.58 (30.24/27.34) points.
Fellow Junior Grand Prix Final participants, Sabina Imaikina and Andrei Novoselov placed fifth (55.35 points). Their clean performance featured side-by-side triple Salchows (Imaikina had to fight for the landing of hers), a throw triple loop, and a triple twist.
Anastasia Martiusheva and Alexei Rogonov, another team from the Junior Grand Prix Final, finished sixth (51.27 points) after Rogonov did not catch his partner properly on a triple twist. Martiusheva later fell on a throw triple loop landing, and the couple also nearly fell out of their final spin, finishing behind the music. The choreography, however, and overall level of presentation of their routine was good.
Ice Dance (Original Dance)
Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski easily defended their overnight lead to finish first in the original dance, while teammates Ekaterina Rubleva and Ivan Shefer pulled up to second. Kristina Gorshkova and Vitali Butikov slipped to the third place.
Clearly a class of the field at the championships, Khokhlova and Novitski were relaxed and playful in their interpretation of the dance, which combined Sam's Blues with an instrumental version of Puttin' on the Ritz.
Lack of worry about their placement was especially evident during the side-by-side steps during which the skaters enthusiastically waved to the crowd. Despite their lack of concentration, most of their technical elements, including a spectacular lift and spin, were well done. The only glitch in the program was a minor mistake by Khokhlova on the twizzle during the side-by-side step sequence.
The team received 61.35 points for the original dance for a total of 99.44 points - more than ten points ahead of the second place finishers.
Skating last and right after Khokhlova and Novitski, Rubleva and Shefer lived up to the impression left by their stronger training mates. The team delivered their dance to St. Louis Blues and Sing, Sing, Sing with a lot of gusto and excellent flow. The skaters have replaced a lift (which did not receive a level four during the Grand Prix events as the judges could not clearly see if Rubleva was in a difficult hold or not). Last year's silver medalists received 55.09 points (88.63 points total) and moved one spot up in the classification.
Anastasia Platonova and Alexander Grachev recovered some ground which they lost in the Compulsory to finish third in the original dance (53.87 points) and fifth overall (79.68 points). The students of Svetlana Alexeeva and Elena Kustarova, who nearly ended their careers two seasons ago, delivered a powerful and expressive program. However, despite the good chemistry between them their program seemed to lack the particular character prescribed by the original dance requirements.
In contrast, Gorshkova and Butikov, who drew the first starting number, excelled in expressing the character of the period with their interpretation of Harry Warren's Too Many Tears, however, the transition to Bei mir bist du schoen (at the end of the program) appeared somewhat abrupt. The team also ran into problems with their side-by-side twizzles, which they performed out of unison and nearly ran into one another at the end of the sequence. They were otherwise clean and received 53.74 points for the program with 87.53 points in total.
Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev attacked their Mack the Knife program with a lot of abandon, however, in the end, they had to settle for fourth place. The 2007 World Junior Champions had an excellent flow throughout the dance, but Soloviev nearly dropped his partner coming into the final pose. The couple earned 53.37 points (86.60 points total).
Natalia Mikhailova and Arkadiy Sergeev rounded out the top sixth with 46.39 points and 76.03 points in total. The students of Alexander Zhulin used Latin rhythms for their original dance, using the famous Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps rhumba. Despite the questionable music choice, the character was there, but the skaters ran into a lot of problems with technical elements: the twizzles were out of unison, the spin was very slow, and Sergeev had a very noticeable stumble during rotational lift.