Doronina leads ladies at Russian Nationals

Ksenia Doronina, 17, leads after the Ladies Short Program

In the Ladies Short Program, defending champion Ksenia Doronina finally overcame the difficulties which plagued her this season. Doronina was forced to withdraw from the Cup of Russia in November by the Russian Figure Skating Federation (RFSF) due to poor showings at national competitions.

In St. Petersburg, Doronina landed a triple flip-double toeloop combination, a triple Lutz (Boitano style), and a double Axel. The 17-year-old also showed marked improvement in the quality of spins and spirals, but what really set her performance apart from her skating last season, were her newly developed presentation skills. While last year her performance was workman-like at best, this year she delivered her program with sparkle and fire and showed good understanding of her Spanish music. She earned 54.15 (28.74/25.41) points.

Nina Petushkova has once again proven the importance of jumps for success in figure skating. While the 15-year-old has dramatically improved her presentation skills since moving to Zhanna Gromova’s group during the off season, her ability to present her program to Colorful Dreams by Didjula, as well as her spirals and steps sequences, leaves much to be desired. Nonetheless she is currently in second place after having successfully completed a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination, a triple flip out of steps, a double Axel, and strong spins. Her speed across the ice has also improved compared to her Cup of Russia performance in late November, and she was awarded 54.09 (28.52/23.57) points plus a 2.00 point bonus for clean execution of both her triple flip and triple Lutz – an innovation proposed by RFSF a month ago.

Currently in the third place is Oksana Gozeva who missed most of last season due to injury. The 18-year-old produced a triple Lutz (with a three turn on landing), a triple flip-double toeloop combination, and a double Axel. She also performed complicated spins and steps which were well designed to fit the musical theme. While the complexity of her choreography wasn’t up to Doronina’s level, Gozeva had great style and attack in her performance. The judges awarded her 53.46 (30.50/22.96 points)

Olga Naidenova, who has also been struggling with injuries, is currently fourth with 49.81 (26.06/23.75) points. The 20-year-old, who showed off her trademark complex spins, landed a triple loop, a double Axel, and a triple Salchow-double toeloop combination.

Yana Smekhnova is fifth with 49.34 points. She landed a triple loop and double Axel, but touched down with both hands on the landing of a triple flip-double toeloop combination. Her performance to Spanish music was highlighted by excellent spins and very appropriate sharp presentation.

Katarina Gerboldt is currently sixth with 47.88 points after she stepped out of a triple loop. The student of Alexei Mishin and Tatiana Mishina gave an inspired and lyrical performance, but her non-jumping elements were noticeably weaker than those of her competitors.

Alexandra Ievleva, who was considered among the favorites, crashed on her opening triple Salchow and later only completed a triple toeloop and double Axel out of a twizzle. The 20-year-old, who was awarded 44.69 points, was visibly disappointed during her performance and is currently in seventh place.

Arina Martinova withdrew from the event due to injury.

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