Golden Skate

Mukhortova and Trankov take pairs title at Russian Nationals

Maria Mukhortova and Maxim Trankov won their first senior National title in the pairs event, while teammates Julia Obertas and Sergei Slavnov settled for a second consecutive silver medal.

Elena Efaieva and Alexei Menshikov won the bronze. They placed sixth in 2005 and withdrew in 2006 when Efaieva sustained a concussion in a fall during practice.

Yuka Kawaguchi and Alexander Smirnov withdrew two weeks ago due to Kawaguchi’s ankle injury which resulted from a fall during practice.

According to officials and various reports, Maria Petrova and Alexei Tikhonov withdrew as Petrova has been ill.

All medalists have earned a spot at the upcoming European Figure Skating Championships, however, should Petrova and Tikhonov be well enough to compete, Efaieva and Menshikov will become substitutes.

Mukhortova and Trankov opened their routine with a solid side-by-side triple toeloop-double toeloop sequence, followed by a good double twist, but then Mukhortova fell on the side-by-side double Axels. The team also produced three good lifts and a throw triple loop, but Mukhortova fell again on a throw triple Salchow and they lost unison during the side-by-side flying camel combination spins. The 2005 Junior World Champions were awarded 110.07 points for a first place finish for their routine to Elegy by Rachmaninov, placing first overall with 173.57 points.

“In general we skated rather well,” said Trankov, “emotionally and technically. Of course, we are not happy with two falls and were very surpised by them.” He added that Maria was very upset about them. “It’s understandable. She is landing them in practice 10 times out of 10. I hope we finally exhausted our load of misfortunes this year and I am sure we won’t make such outrageous mistakes at Europeans.”

Skating to music by Edvin Marton, Obertas and Slavnov delivered three lifts, good side-by-side flying camel combination spins, and a solid throw triple flip and triple loop, but Obertas popped her jump on the side-by-side triple toeloop-double toeloop sequence, singled her jump on the side-by-side double Axels (Slavnov stepped out), and stumbled during a straight line footwork sequence. The team was awarded 106.17 points, placing second in the long and overall (159.64 points).

“Yulia’s problems are in her head,” offered Slavnov, “but hopefully she can overcome them because physically, she is quite capable of delivering all the elements. She just needs to belive in herself. ” Aside from jumps, Slavnov was happy with the way they skated, adding, “Weaker athletes might have retired after the disaster we had at NHK Trophy, but it only made us strong and motivated us to work harder.”

Efaieva and Menshikov showed good attack in their routine to Scorchio by Bond, but Efaieva underrotated and fell on a throw triple Salchow and the team was out of synch in the side-by-side flying camel combination spins, as well as on the side-by-side double Axel-double Axel sequence. Despite the mistakes, the team produced a solid throw triple loop, a good double twist, and a throw triple Salchow to earn 99.65 points. With a total of 153.61 points, the team slipped from second to third overall.

Asked if a medal at Nationals was their New Year wish, Efaieva said, “No, skating a clean program was, but unfortunately that didn’t happen.” “Making it to Euros,” said Menshikov, “but it’s up in the air.”

Kazuchiz and Rosliakov, who stood in ninth after the short, produced a solid side-by-side double Axel-double loop sequence, a good throw triple loop, and displayed good flow during a level four spiral sequence, however, they had problems on the side-by-side triple Salchows and the throw triple Salchow. The team showed their potential, placing fourth in the long (96.16 points) and subsequently moving up to fifth overall (142.31 points).

Ushakova and Karev placed fifth in the long (95.88 points) and fourth overall (147.68 points). Their routine featured a very good double twist and a solid throw triple Salchow, but Ushakova doubled her jump on the side-by-side triple toeloops and fell on a throw triple loop.

Esich and Babkin had a fairly clean skate. Esich stepped out of a throw triple loop, but the team executed a throw triple flip, side-by-side double loops, and a side-by-side double flip-double toeloop sequence. They also showed good unison in the side-by-side flying camel combination spins, earning 90.33 points for a sixth place finish in the long and overall (139.29 points).

Sheremetieva and Kuznetsov displayed good choreography and presentation skills in their routine, but Sheremetieva stepped out of a throw triple Salchow and their triple twist had a tight catch. The 2006 JGP Montreal silver medalists placed seventh in the long (89.22 points) and eighth overall (136.86 points).

Bazarova and Larionov produced a good triple twist, three good lifts, and a throw triple Salchow, but Bazarova put her hand down on a throw triple loop, and underrotated and put her hand down on the landing of her jump in the side-by-side double Axels. The 2006 JGP Taipei silver medalists placed eighth in the long (88.61 points) and were seventh overall with 137.53 points.

Bakirova and Patlasov, who stood in fifth after the short, placed ninth in the long (81.81) and dropped to ninth overall (131.27 points). Bakirova put her hand down on a throw triple loop, stepped out of and fell on a throw triple Salchow, and fell out of the final position of the side-by-side flying camel combination spin.

Khodkova and Slusarenko were 10th in the long and overall (123.47 points).

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