Kavaguti and Smirnov win third consecutive national title
Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov of St. Petersburg (SPB) defended their overnight lead to win their third consecutive national title.
Maria Mukhortova and Maxim Trankov (SPB) maintained second overall to win silver, while Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov of Perm (PRM) took the bronze.
Kavaguti and Smirnov did not attempt a throw quad Salchow, but landed two clean triple throws, side-by-side triple toes, and a sequence of two double Axels.
“Today our coach told us before the start not to attempt a quad throw,” Smirnov later explained. “Even though we have landed a clean one in the morning practice. She told us that in the present circumstances it would be better to do a “simple” triple throw. You have seen the rest yourself: high flight, great landing, and Yuko’s smile. You have to ask Moskvina for her reasons, frankly, we were a bit upset by her choice.”
Though the students of Tamara Moskvina aborted one of their lifts, the overall level of their performance was much better than during Grand Prix season. The team expressed the waltz character better, and were smoother and more confident than before. They earned an ovation from their home crowd, and placed first in the long with 142.60 (67.92/74.68) points and overall (220.61 points) to easily defend their title.
“Winning the third straight title is as pleasant, as it is difficult,” said Smirnov afterwards. “It’s one thing to win the title once, but to repeat again next year and then the next is a completely different story. Believe me, it is hard.”
“I think we have skated this program better in the Grand Prix event in Japan,” he continued. “Today was a good performance, but I got worried during one lift. I was able to fix it quickly, but the aftertaste remains.”
Mukhortova and Trankov gave an emotional performance which was very well received by the crowd, however, from the technical standpoint, it was their worst run-through of the season.
The team opened their Love Story routine with a clean triple twist and side-by-side double Axels, but Mukhortova underrotated a double toeloop in combination with a triple toeloop and crashed on the throw triple Salchow. However, the skaters exhibited far better rapport and related to each other more noticeably than they have in the past. Their program is looking more like a romantic and lyrical piece as suggested by the music.
However, in addition to the deduction for the fall, the students of Oleg Vasiliev lost another +1.00 when Mukhortova lost a ribbon from her costume in the last seconds of the program. They placed second in the long with 133.96 (62.99/72.97) points and overall (208.78 points).
“It was the worst skate of the season,” said Trankov. “We got two deductions, one of them for something silly like Masha loosing a ribbon.”
“We are a bit upset,” added Mukhortova, “We had a fall, but I’m more upset about the other deduction. But better it happens here than later. We still have important starts ahead of us. We plan to make new costumes for the Europeans anyway.”
“The current ones are unlucky,” agreed Trankov, regarding the costumes. “First, I had a costume malfunction in Canada, and now Maria. We are looking forward to Europeans now. We will work hard and hope to skate better. We usually perform better abroad.”
Bazarova and Larionov finished third in the long with 116.39 (59.20/58.19) points and overall (178.65 points). Bazarova fell on the opening triple toeloop and had tight landings on both jumps in the double Axel-double Axel sequence. Nevertheless, they produced a clean triple twist and two triple throws. Their soft and lyrical style appealed to the audience, who warmly supported them throughout.
“We wanted to skate clean,” said a dismal Larionov. “We did not concern ourselves with placements. We just wanted to skate clean. Obviously we failed.”
Lubov Ilushechkina and Nodari Maisuradze of Moscow (MOS) finished fourth in the long program (110.82 points) with a error filled performance. Ilushechkina fell on an underrotated triple Salchow, underrotated a triple toeloop, and stepped out of the throw triple loop. Despite the errors, the team had one of the most complex and intricate programs of the field and produced a level two triple twist and strong lifts. They finished fourth overall with 170.49 points.
Tatiana Novik and Mikhail Kuznetsov (MOS) opened their routine with side-by-side triple loop which were executed in perfect unison. They later attempted a side-by-side triple Salchow-double Axel sequence, but stepped out of the second jump. Novik also fell out of the landing of the throw triple Salchow and only performed a double twist. They placed fifth in the long (104.41 points) and overall (104.41 points).
“We are satisfied with what we did today,” said Kuznetsov. “It was not perfect. “We did make some mistakes again, you saw it yourself, but overall it was good. Previously, we had made the mistakes in the beginning of the program, now we made them in the second half of it. I guess we were a bit tired.”
“It was a long season,” he continued, “and besides we are only skating together for seven months. We both skated with other partners before, so we have worked very hard. We basically don’t have any holidays. Even for the New Year I will not travel back home [to Tcheliabinsk], because we have to prepare for Junior Nationals.”
Ksenia Ozerova and Aleksander Enbert (SPB), who stood in 12th after the short, placed sixth in the long and overall.
Ksenia Krasilnikova and Konstantin Bezmaternikh (PRM), who stood in seventh after the Short Program, withdrew due to injury. Krasilnikova fell hard on the a throw triple flip half way through the long program.