A little piece of history was written at the Rostelecom Cup ice dance competition. For the first time, two children of former Olympic ice dance champions were competing in the same discipline at the same event. Anthony Ponomarenko’s parents, Sergei Ponomarenko and Marina Klimova won the 1992 title in Albertville, France, and Ivan Bukin’s father, Sergei, claimed the 1988 title (with Natalia Bestemianova) in Calgary, Canada.
Bukin and his partner, Alexandra Stepanova, are in the midst of the best season of their young careers. The duo mined gold at all three events they have contested this season and seemed poised to challenge those currently at the top of the ice dance ladder.
After claiming their first Grand Prix title in Helsinki, Stepanova and Bukin repeated the result on home soil in Moscow on Saturday, winning the event by a 25.01-point margin.
The duo collected 199.43 points in total for their two programs and punched a ticket to their first senior Grand Prix Final. “We are very happy to come back after yesterday, We haven’t made a mistake in a long time and it was a good lesson for us,” said Stepanova in reference to the downgrades on their two Tango Romantica sequences in the rhythm dance. “Two first places in the Grand Prix Series is a great success for us at this time.”
Spain’s Sara Hurtado and Kiril Khaliavin, who teamed up in the spring of 2016 and train in Moscow with Alexander Zhulin, are another duo on the fast track to the top of the ice dance ranks. In third after the short, their engaging free dance set to “Great Gig in the Sky,” “Vladimir’s Blues” and “Sign of the Times,” was a popular performance with the audience and the judges, earning positive Grades of Execution across the board.
Hurtado and Khaliavin moved up to second with 174.41 points to capture the first Grand Prix medal of their career in their debut season on the circuit. “A medal on the Grand Prix has been a goal and I dreamed of it when I saw Javier (Fernández) getting on the podium. It proves to skaters in Spain that you can be here when you work hard,” Hurtado said.
Ponomarenko and his partner Christina Carreira dropped from second after the rhythm dance to finish third overall with 174.21 points. The 2018 World Junior silver medalists claimed their first medal in their debut season on the senior circuit. “We are pretty happy with how it went today,” Carreira said. “We didn’t get all our levels, but for our first senior year we’re happy to come third in our second Grand Prix.”
Sofia Evdokimova and Egor Bazin of Russia moved up from sixth to fourth with 164.66 points. Poland’s Natalia Kaliszek and Makysm Spodyriev danced into fifth with 161.62 points.