Victory
There were few surprises in the free dance competition at 2020 Russian nationals in Krasnoyarsk earlier today. As expected, Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov claimed the victory and danced off with their second national crown. However, unlike last year where they had an almost four-point winning margin, the gap between them and the runners-up has narrowed considerably.

Sinitsina and Katsalapov earned Level 4s for the twizzles, the spin, and the three lifts but their step sequence was graded Level 3. The duo earned positive grades of execution for all their elements and closed out the competition with 220.74 points in total.

“Two and a half weeks ago at the Grand Prix Final we skated with more ease. Today we were very focused on doing all elements clean and we were controlled,” Katsalapov explained. “I wanted to do better. There were two moments where I think I was a little off. Today it was a down to earth working performance.”

When asked about Russia being banned for from the Olympics for the next four years Katsalapov said, “emotionally it was a downer. Sport develops patriotic feelings. It is very sad. I think many athletes will not compete out of protest.”

Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin are closing the gap between themselves and their national rivals at a rapid pace. The duo earned Level 4s for the twizzles, the spin, and the three lifts but their diagonal step sequence was rated a Level 3. Stepanova and Bukin won the free dance by 0.28 of a point but remained in second place with 219.72 in total – just 1.02 points shy of claiming the top step of the podium.

“Russian nationals is always intense. We wanted to improve the technical mistakes we made at the Final where we lost points. We wanted to lift our technical score here and we’re happy with what we did,” said Stepanova.

Tiffani Zahorski and Jonathan Guerreiro captured the bronze with 197.73 points – far better result than their seventh-place finish a year ago and a score that was 20 points higher.

“It was tough. Last year New Year’s Eve was sad for us, but we support each other and we have great coaches that are with us,” said Guerreiro about last year’s disappointing finish. “Our job was just to skate well and play it safe to make it to Europeans. It is uplifting. I think it’s a sense of relief.” With files from Tatjana Flade in Krasnoyarsk.

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