Voronov defends title at 2009 Russian Nationals

Sergei Voronov defended his Russian National title with an impressive Tango performance in the Long Program.

Sergei Voronov defended his Russian National title with an impressive Tango performance in the Long Program. The 21-year-old opened with the a flawless quad toe loop and later landed two powerful triple Axels (one in combination with double toe loop), but received a warning for use of the wrong take off edge on a triple flip. He also landed a triple loop, a triple Salchow, and two triple toe loops to earn 160.99 points (238.68 total). What set his performance apart from earlier ones was the drive and energy he displayed throughout.

“I would like to thank Kazan and Kazan’s ice for being lucky for me,” said Voronov at a post event press conference. “I was not in the best shape here, but I fought through, and in the end I prevailed. I still cannot believe that I won the title a second time. After Cup of Russia, I was upset that I did not skate well in my native town. Perhaps it was the pressure I felt, because I did not truly understand my short program, so I decided to change it.”

When asked about his lack of consistency at practices, the student of Alexei Urmanov explained: “I do the difficult elements better in competition because I am more motivated then. I guess I’m too lazy. I just do not see the point on concentrating on them during practices.”

Urmanov, however, disagreed. “Sergei is not entirely truthful here. He works on them in practice as well, but naturally he is just more focused during competition. But I guess it’s true of every athlete. It’s a competition [with] adrenaline and desire to win.”

Artem Borodulin won his first Senior national medal – the silver – despite a flawed long program. The 19-year-old fell out of his first triple Axel and underrotated the second attempt in combination with a double toe loop. He recovered to land a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination and a triple loop, but stepped out of the second triple Lutz and popped a double Axel in a waltz jump. He scored 130.85 points for the long program and 206.78 overall.

“I liked everything here,” Borodulin said, “but perhaps more spectators would have been better. I was confident in the short program, but had some problems in the long. I was not 100 percent here because I missed three days of practices before the event.”

“I would like to thank the team doctors for helping me to recover,” Borodulin added. “Making a podium at Nationals has been a goal I’ve been working very hard to achieve and I am happy that I did it. Skating at Europeans will be interesting. Seniors is a completely different level than Juniors. More difficult, but more pleasant too.”

Andrei Lutai, who skated last of the 17 men, improved on his poor performances in the fall, but failed to skate clean in the long at this event. The student of Alexei Mishin popped his opening Axel into a double and underrotated and stepped out of a quad toe loop in combination with double toe loop. He later landed a triple Axel-double toe loop and a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination, but had to fight for the landings. The 22-year-olde did, however, land a clean triple flip and Salchow.

Despite an energetic and engaging performance of his “Headhunters” routine, the 2007 and 2008 Russian National silver medalist received only 128.20 points for his routine. With a total score of 196.81 points, he had to settle for bronze.

“I was not nervous before the short program,” Lutai later told the press, “even though I had many mistakes at previous events. “I skated very well in practices before coming here. I nailed a lot of quads in training and did clean run-throughs. Unfortunately, I made a mistake in the short, putting both my hands down on an Axel, but I did the rest of the elements well, so I think it was a good performance. Could have been better, of course, but it was Ok. But I am upset that I missed the first Axel in the long program. This time I was nervous. I really wanted to win, but I am happy that I was able to pull myself together and skate the rest of the elements well.”

“My new long program was choreographed in America,” Lutai explained. “The topic is headhunters – native Americans, hence the feathers on the costume. It was a very interesting experience for me, a completely different approach. I had some problems with my English at first and some things had to be translated for me, but I really liked it and I learned a lot. I even learned a new manner of stroking which allows me to save energy. I’m not yet able to use it fully, because it is very different, but it helped me a lot. I now have energy to finish the program well.”

Konstantin Menshov finished fourth (127.04 points) in the long program with a performance which featured two quad toe loops (one in combination with a double toe loop), but he stepped out of the solo one. He also popped a planned triple Axel into a single, but saved the landings of five more triples. The skater from St. Petersburg competed at Nationals with a broken arm, which he injured a couple of weeks before during an exhibition, and whatever energy he was able to summon to skate here was used to land the jumps. As a result, his spins and step sequences, as well as his overall presentation of his warrior-themed routine, were relatively weak. He finished in sixth overall with 191.72 points.

Skating to a medley from the Notre Dame de Paris musical, Vladimir Uspenski landed a triple Axel in combination with a double toe loop and five more triple jumps, but fell on a second triple Axel attempt. The student of Viktor Kudriavtsev obviously improved upon disastrous performances at Skate Canada, but the quality of his non-jumping elements were still not up to the level of his rivals. He earned 126.49 points for his routine and placed fourth with 194.05 points overall.

Andrei Griazev, who was seventh coming into the long program, managed to pull up two spots despite a flawed performance to music from The Godfather soundtrack. He opened with a solid triple Lutz, but popped a planned triple Axel into a single immediately afterwards. The 23-year-old recovered to land a triple flip and a triple Axel-triple toe loop combination, but later popped the second flip attempt. He received 126.13 points for his efforts, and with 192.15 points total, finished fifth.

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