Tuktamysheva captures gold at 2013 Russian Nationals

Elizaveta Tuktamysheva at the 2013 Russian National Figure Skating Championships

Elizaveta Tuktamysheva performs her Long Program at the 2013 Russian National Figure Skating Championships.

Elizaveta Tuktamysheva won her first national title in the last event of the 2013 Russian National Figure Skating Championships. Elena Radionova moved one spot up to capture the silver, while defending champion Adelina Sotnikova had to settle for bronze.

Tuktamysheva had to overcome more than just pressure of being in the lead and the usual competition nerves in order to win the first title of her career. The student of Alexei Mishin did not attend the morning practice and the famous coach even informed members of the press that she was withdrawing from the event due to illness. The withdrawal was never made official, though, and the overnight leader showed up for the competition, looking a bit under the weather, but determined to proceed.

“I already felt a bit off yesterday,” she said afterwards, “but I did not realize it at first. Today, at five in the morning, I woke up feeling bad. My nose was stuffed, I was shivering. I put a lot of warm clothes on and went back to bed and in the morning I realized that something was wrong.”

Despite feeling ill, the 16-year-old decided to compete.

“It was a team decision, we always discuss those things together,” she claimed. “We had not considered an option of withdrawing after the warm up. By that time, we had already made up our minds that we would fight till the end, that I should skate no matter what, because a lot of things could happen and I might find myself in an even worse situation in the future. I have to know how to handle it, so we decided to skate.”

Considering the circumstances, her performance was very impressive.

The 2011 World Junior silver medalist produced a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination, landed a double Axel-triple toe loop in the second half of the routine, and had two more clean triples. However, she popped the triple flip into a single and stumbled out of triple Salchow landing.

“The performance was not among my bests,” she admitted, “but I felt awful. My head was spinning, so even though it was way less than perfect, I believe considering my current condition, it was as good as it gets.”

The 2012 Youth Olympic Games Champion earned 127.07 (60.15/66.92) and won the title with 196.57 points in total. She finally age-eligible for ISU Championships, and will now prepare for the European Championships.

“I do not expect anything new from the Europeans,” she told the press. “I will face the same rivals. I have already competed against many of them before and have even defeated some of them. So I have to step on the ice and get the job done. Besides, on the ice it is does not matter what is the level of the competition, you still have to do your best.”

“If me and Adelina skate well, we can challenge for good places,” she stated. “There are very few skaters doing a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination in the free.”

Radionova was flawless, producing seven clean triple jumps, including a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination and a triple flip-triple Salchow sequence. This content, however, only earned her the second-best technical score of the night. Still, she finished a close second in the long (126.68 (67.25/59.43)) and overall (191.26) to win her first Senior Championships medal.

“I did not expect such a result,” she claimed. “I am very happy. First of all, because I landed all my jumps and delivered the program to the best of my ability. I am very happy with my placement. Frankly, I did not expect it.”

The 2012 ISU Junior Grand Prix Final Champion is too young to participate in the ISU Championships, either this year or the next, but she claims that she does not regret it.

“I am not at all upset,” stated the 13-year-old. “I hope I still have many years ahead of me. Besides, I still have not won a Junior Worlds, which is something that I really would like to do. So I am not upset. I have a lot of room for improvement.”

Still, Radionova feels that competing against Senior skaters is more interesting.

“Of course it is more difficult to compete in the Senior ranks,” said the student of Inna Goncharenko. “It is a completely different level. It is always interesting to see how you would look compared to very strong rivals.”

Sotnikova picked up the highest program component scores of the night for her interpretation of the Burlesque soundtrack, but technically her performance was quite uneven. The landing of her opening triple Lutz was not perfect, but she still decided to add a triple toe loop to it, which resulted in a fall and downgrade of the second jump in combination. Later in the program, she stepped out of a triple flip and a double Axel. She did, however, land three solid triples and a double Axel – triple toe loop combination.

“I am happy with my performance, not entirely happy, but happy nonetheless,” said the student Elena Vodorezova-Byuanova. “I managed to overcome it. It was my best performance of the season. I am moving forward.”

The three-time Russian champion does not believe that there is anything special about her successful performances at the Nationals.

“There is no secret,” she claimed. “I guess I just know how to center myself for the Nationals. Now I have to learn to do the same thing for international events.”

In contrast to her performances earlier this year in Sochi, Sotnikova was relaxed and confident, fully immersing herself in the music, and the overall impression was very strong. She received 123.76 (56.76/68.00) points for the long and narrowly missed second place (190.75).

“I am trying to re-invent myself,” she revealed when asked how she coped after the mistake on the opening combination. “I know that I have to be able to deal with any possible problem with my jumps, be they crooked, skewed, leaning, or straight. It was an extra practice before international events, so I will try to skate even better internationally.”

“Overall, I think I leave Russian Nationals feeling more confident,” the 16-year-old summed up. “It was much easier to skate here, so I am on the right track. My coach praised me, which pleased me a lot.”

Despite her lack of consistency this year, the skater does not seem to be intimidated by the prospect of competing at her first European Championships.

“The Europeans is going to be a new event for me,” acknowledged the 2011 World Junior champion, “but come think of it, it is unlikely to be very different to Grand Prix events or any other competition. One has to be calm and skate well. I know that both me and Lisa are capable of skating perfect programs, and if we do, we can even finish on the podium.”

Serafima Sakhanovich pulled up to fourth place with a flawless performance which earned her the highest technical score of the night. The 12-year-old nailed seven triple jumps, but unlike Radionova, the skater from St. Petersburg executed her triple flip-triple Salchow sequence in the second half of the program. Other aspects of her lyrical routine were also strong, and the student of Alina Pisarenko definitely succeed at making a memorable first impression on many fans and specialists. She was awarded 120.87 points for the long program and 177.37 in total.

Anna Pogorilaya slipped to fifth place overall (176.58) with a four-clean-triple-jump performance, in which she stumbled out of the opening triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination and got an edge call on her flip.

Nikol Gosviani pulled up to sixth place (170.67). The student of Alexei Urmanov produced seven nearly clean triples, but the quality of some of them were not up to the standard displayed by those who finished ahead of her. She did, however, excel in the interpretation of her music.

“I kept training hard and hoped that I would be able to compete at the Nationals,” said the skater, who was the third alternate. “This season was much more successful for me than the previous ones. It was very intense with many competitions. I guess the quantity translated into quality. I am happy that I was able to do everything I planned.”

After a difficult Grand Prix season, Alena Leonova changed her long program to the famous Concerto d’Aranjuez, claiming that she feels more comfortable skating to this music, however, the change did not help the 2012 World silver medalist to deliver a clean performance. She finished eighth in the long and seventh overall (169.64) with a only three clean triples to her name.

Ksenia Makarova pulled up to eighth place (163.83) with a season best performance in which she was clearly determined to fight till the very end. She was not flawless, though, as her triple flip was downgraded and the second part of the triple toe loop-triple toe loop combination was considered underrotated. Nevertheless, she avoided falls and finished the routine on a high note.

“I was not happy with my performance in the short,” said the student of Evgeni Rukavitsin. “I tried to let go of the disappointment, but truth to be told, I was rather angry today. I guess it helped me to skate better in the long. I was injured, but it is better now. Doctors tell me that the pain will disappear if I stop skating, but it won’t happen any time soon.”

Polina Korobeynikova slipped to tenth place (163.04) with an error-ridden performance, which featured only three clean triples. Alsou Kayumova finished ninth (163.51).

The Russian Figure Skating Federation selected Tuktamysheva, Sotnikova, and Gosviani to represent the ladies at the upcoming 2013 European Figure Skating Championships.

Elizaveta Tuktamysheva performs her Long Program at the 2013 Russian National Figure Skating Championships.

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