Doronina defends Russian National title

Katarina Gerboldt, who stood in sixth after the short, won the ladies free skate, but missed the podium by 0.80 points. The 18-year-old earned 96.76 (46.98/52.28) points for her performance to Scheherezade and 144.64 overall.

The student of Alexei Mishin received two points deduction – one for falling on her second triple and another for finishing behind the music. Nonetheless, the 2007 Golden Spin bronze medalist landed four triple jumps: a loop, a toeloop, a triple flip-double toeloop-double loop combination, and a triple Salchow-double toeloop combination. Though she clearly ran out of stream during her circular step sequence, the judges felt that her performance skills were superior to everyone except Doronina.

Olga Naidenova, who stood in fourth after the short, placed second in the long with 95.63 (43.34/52.19) points, and moved up to third overall (145.34 points). The 20-year-old landed four triples jumps: two salchows (one in combination), a toeloop and a loop. She had strong spins, but her spiral sequence and steps were weak and after a mistake on her opening jump (she popped a flip into double) , she was visibly upset and didn’t recover her spirit until the end of the program.

Nevertheless, she was happy to medal.

“I’ve competed at Nationals for so long,” said Naidenova. “Of course I always dreamed of winning a medal and now this dream has finally came true. This medal is very important for me.”

Defending champion Ksenia Doronina managed to hang onto first place overall (149.09 points) after placing third in the long with 94.94 (40.83/54.11) points. The 17-year-old, who was brilliant at practice, struggled with the jumps in her long program to Tales of Travels. The student of Alla Pyatova landed her first three jumps: a triple flip, a triple Lutz (Boitano style), and a triple loop, but then underrotated and fell on a triple Salchow and singled her second Lutz and toeloop. The 2007 Russian Junior bronze medalist recovered to land a double Axel-double toeloop combination towards the end of the program, but her non-jumping elements and expression left much to be desired.

“I’ve tried to push the thoughts of defending my title out of my mind and just skate as well as I could and enjoy my performance,” Doronina later explained. “I’m not sure what happened later in the program. Perhaps after I landed three opening jumps I became too carried away with my music.”

Doronina also felt that she was helped in a roundabout way when the Russian Figure Skating Federation (RFSF) when they removed her from 2007 Cup of Russia lineup.

“It allowed me to concentrate on preparation for Nationals,” said Doronina, “but on the other hand, every competition is a valuable experience for me.”

When asked about her coaching change, she replied: “Sometime during summer camp, I felt like I’d lost rapport with Alexei Mishin. I have to come to the conclusion that in order to progress further, I have to move to a new coach. As I was very much impressed with Alyona Leonova’s skating, who is one of the leaders of the Russian junior team, I asked her coach Alla Yurievna Pyatova to take me.”

Nina Petushkova finished second overall (146.99 points) after placing fourth in the long with 92.90 (46.06/46.84) points. The usually consistent skater doubled both her triple flip attempts, but otherwise landed four triples which included a Lutz, a toeloop, and two loops (one of which was in combination with a double toeloop). However, the 15-year-old’s spiral and step sequences were very weak.

Petushkova was happy to be competing in St. Petersburg and felt the event was very organized.

“I hoped to be in the position to medal,” Petushkova later told the press, “but my main task has been to come out and skate clean and not to bother about placements. Obviously, I didn’t manage it. I have to work more on my long program to avoid making such stupid mistakes in the future. Perhaps I simply haven’t skated it enough times.”

Petushkova also had a recent coaching change, switching from Andrei Kisliukhin to Zhanna Gromova last August.

“The reason was that I could get better training conditions at Khodynka than in Odintsovo,” explained Petushkova. “It’s closer to the place there I live and we have only 12 skaters on the ice during the practice, while in Odintsovo we often had 20.”

Yana Smenkhnova placed fifth in the long with 87.86 (39.90/48.96) points and remained in fifth overall with a total score of 137.20 points. She delivered an upbeat performance to Russian folk music, which included a triple Salchow and triple toeloop at the end of her program as well as very nice spins. Though she expressed the character of her music perfectly, she fell on her opening triple flip and doubled a toeloop and loop.

Oksana Gozeva slipped from third to sixth place overall (132.52 points) after placing ninth in the long with 79.06 (33.78/46.28) points. Though 18-year-old attempted a complete set of triples, they were mostly flawed.

The highest technical score of the night belonged to 11-year-old Elizaveta Tuktamysheva. The student of Alexei Mishin completed all five triples jumps: loop, Lutz (with step out), flip and Salchow (both in combination with a double toeloop), and toeloop. Despite her charming personality and lovely performance skills, her basic skating skills aren’t yet up to par on the Senior level and it hurt her in the program components scores. She placed eighth in the long with 84.30 (46.98/37.39) points and finished 10th overall (119.65 points).

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