International Figure Skating

Kostornaia on Fire at Russian Championships


Unlike their male counterparts, the ladies brought their best performances to the short program at 2020 Russian nationals on Friday evening. In a field of 17, there were five falls and not one of them was owned by any of the top 13 finishers.

Alena Kostornaia was in a class of her own in the short program. Showing elegance, grace, solid technique and artistry beyond her years, the 16-year-old floated through a routine that opened with a solid triple Axel followed by a triple Lutz and a triple flip-triple toe combination. The grade of execution marks for her Level 4 elements were predominantly fours and fives (the highest mark on the scale) but her program component scores were perhaps lower than what she deserved.

Kostornaia earned a score of 89.86 — which would have had her in first place in the men’s short program in Krasnoyarsk. When asked how she felt about that, Kostornaia responded: “I think you can congratulate me. I just wanted to skate clean and make the spectators happy. The last thing I was thinking about was the score and the responsibility.”

Her training mate, Anna Shcherbakova, finished second, 10 points behind with 79.93. The 15-year-old opened her program with a double Axel, followed by a triple flip and midway through the routine executed a solid triple Lutz-triple loop combination. She also earned Level 4s for all the elements in her routine. “I was more nervous than last year because I felt it is like a qualifying competition,” said Shcherbakova, the 2019 Russian champion. “But I tried to focus on my program and to do the jumps. I managed in the short and now I have to do the same in the free and skate clean.”

The third member of the trio, Alexandra Trusova, skated into third with a clean performance and earned 76.46 points for her efforts. Trusova did not attempt a triple Axel in the program, saying that the decision to leave it out was taken after the morning practice session. “I really wanted to do it though and in practice I suggested that I will do the Axel. But, the coaches said, ‘let’s go without the Axel today. You have to qualify for Europeans.’’

Elizaveta Tuktamysheva included a triple Axel in her short program but sits in fourth with 75.74 points. “Considering my condition before the performance, I am basically satisfied. There were nerves that could have affected the performance. I am pleased although it was not ideal. The jumps today were not as great as I can do them. The competition is so tough that you cannot make the smallest errors.”

Evgenia Medvedeva sits in fifth with 71.08 points. “This is officially the hardest competition of my life. The right boot is broken and is a catastrophe in the true sense of the word,” she explained. “It happened yesterday in practice. I changed boots after Rostelecom Cup, so they are just one month old. There was an unpleasant fall in practice after which it turned out that the boot was broken. We tried to find new ones, but they didn’t have my model and size. There were beginners’ boots in my size — we mounted the blades on them, but it didn’t work. I skated in them last night. Then we switched the blades back to the old boots. We chose the lesser of two bad things. I feel very lost and not good. I tried my best.” With files from Tatjana Flade in Krasnoyarsk.

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