International Figure Skating

Shcherbakova Surprises With Second Consecutive Win

The ladies final closed out the 2020 Russian Championships in Krasnoyarsk with a bang. Though it was anticipated the trio of teenage stars from Moscow would claim all three steps of the podium, it was Anna Shcherbakova who stepped up on the night when it mattered the most.

Second after the short, but 10 points behind the leader, Shcherbakova, 15, rose to the occasion landing two quad Lutz jumps — one in combination with a triple toe — a quad flip and five more triple jumps, four of which were also in combinations. With 181.94 points for the free and a combined total of 261.87 Shcherbakova captured her second consecutive national title.

As an aside, Shcherbakova’s score would have also had her in first place in the men’s event in Krasnoyarsk.

“I am happy as almost everything worked out as planned. There were some minor errors, but overall I did well. I was more nervous than last year at Russian nationals because I knew it was an important qualifying competition. I’m happy I qualified for the major events this season,” said Shcherbakova. “I want to work now more on the triple Axel and include it in my program.”

Alena Kostornaia was the odds-on favorite coming into this competition and those odds increased following her dramatic win in the short program. However, despite a clean performance in the free, she finished in second place overall with 259.83, missing the gold by a scant 2.04 points. “I could have skated better. The double Axel was not good and the combination wasn’t good either. This was not the performance I wanted to show. I know I can do it better,” the 16-year-old said. “I will continue to work and hope not to be unhappy with my performance again. I was not especially nervous. I didn’t feel much pressure.”

This is a competition Alexandra Trusova would love to have a second shot at. Third in the short program, trailing the leader by 13.04 points, her lacklustre free skate performance did nothing to improve her cause. The 15-year-old fell on both her opening jumps (quad flip and quad Lutz), which also received under-rotation calls, and one spin and the step sequence were graded Level 3. Trusova burst into tears as she left the ice with all three coaches trying to console her. Trusova earned 149.88 points for the segment and finished third with a total tally of 226.34 — 35.53 points out of first place.

“I’m not pleased with my performance. I always get to skate last at Russian nationals and that means pressure for me because I don’t like to skate last,” Trusova explained. “I was more nervous because this is a qualifying competition. At the Grand Prix Final I was not too upset because I tried a jump that I had learned recently (the quad flip). Here, I was upset because I trained it well and I did the jump in practice and in the warm up, but it didn’t happen in the competition.”

Shcherbakova and Kostornaia are guaranteed a trip to the 2020 European Championships. The decision about who will earn the third berth will be decided on Monday. It is expected that Trusova will be named to the team.

When asked what jump she plans to work on next, Trusova responded, “I only have the quad loop left to learn. I want to try it at the end of the season.”

Elizaveta Tuktamysheva finished a distant ninth in the free skate following a fall on an attempted quad toe (a new jump she recently learned), a stumble out of a triple Axel and a hand down on a triple flip — along with under-rotation calls on four jumps. But the 23-year-old held on to finish in fourth place overall with 204.63 points.

“I am happy with fourth place. It is nice because I often was lower at Russian nationals in the past,” Tuktamysheva said. “I am happy that I went for the quad toe and overall I am satisfied with the result. It was not my best performance — there were many mistakes — but I wanted to take a risk and fight until the end. I was able to do so even after the mistakes. The (triple) loop wasn’t good — I think this happened for the first time. It was not easy to skate today.”

Evgenia Medvedeva was forced to withdraw following the practice session on Saturday morning. While she was able to secure a broken boot to skate the short, the boot disintegrated at the practice session and it was game over for the 20-year-old. “These things happen. I taped the boot and it was enough for yesterday (in the short program). We did everything possible and there was no talk about withdrawing until this morning practice,” Medvedeva explained. “It did not work at all. These boots are one month old and it was unpredictable that this would happen. Usually it is not a problem (to change boots), but not the day before an important competition. I think it would have been dangerous to try to compete in these boots.

“Brian (Orser, her coach) is maybe even more upset than I am. He tried everything and he was at my side all the time. We tried to find a solution. I’ll take part in the gala, but unfortunately without jumps.”

Medvedeva is already looking ahead to next season and already has some plans. “Now I have a lot of time, I’ll take part in shows, and in training I’ll focus on learning new elements. There is progress but it doesn’t go as fast as I would like. I chose my free skate music for next season not long ago. I’ll skate to ‘Allegria’ from Cirque du Soleil. I will work hard and I will come back stronger.”

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