Ksenia Markova of St. Petersburg (SPB) won the ladies event in a tight field of four. Alena Leonova (SPB) rose two spots to to claim silver, while Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (SPB) catapulted from 10th to third overall.
Tuktamysheva skated first in the second warm-up group, and the standard she set proved to be unmatched throughout the event. The performance of the Glazov’s native was marred only by an uncharacteristic fall on a triple Salchow in the second half of the program, but she was otherwise clean.
Tuktamysheva, who will finally be able to compete at Junior international competitions next year, delivered six clean triple jumps which included a solid triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination and an impressive double Axel-triple toeloop-double loop with excellent flow out it.
Compared to her performances last year, Tuktamysheva improved the quality of her jumps, which are higher and cover more distance than before. In addition, her flamenco was full of little hand gestures to sell the theme and the skater never fell out of character throughout the routine. The 13-year-old placed first in the long with a score of 124.57 (73.69/51.88) points and third overall (173.53 points) to win the bronze.
“It was easier for me to skate today than yesterday,” said the student of Alexei Mishin after the end of the competition. “On one hand, I like my long program more. I feel more comfortable in it. On the other hand, after the disastrous performance in the short program, I had nothing to loose, so I tried to relax and just enjoy myself on the ice. I think today I gave 95%. Unfortunately I had that one fall, but I skated well otherwise.”
The coaches, Svetlana Veretennikova and Alexei Mishin, agreed that their student excel in the long program. “She pushes herself too hard, getting all eight elements in a short program clean is too much of a pressure. The long program give you more freedom, you can do you what you want, you could be creative and we do just that.”
“The mistake on Salchow was a fluke,” said Mishin. “She has great consistency with the jump in practices. I guess today she lost her focus for a while. But overall the way she skated today, she could have challenged for a medal at an international event of any level. I believe the judges were a bit cautious with their mark. Had she skated in the last warm-up, she would have scored much higher.”
Leonova also improved on her performance, finishing second in the long program and overall to win her first medal of the National Championships. The student of Alla Piatova did not attempt a triple-triple combination as the landing of her opening triple toeloop was not secure enough, however, she avoided serious mistakes on all other jumping elements.
The choreography of Leonova’s Chicago program was excellent. After her two opening passes, she was able to relax enough to truly express the style and the character of her music and do all the intricate connecting steps without a glitch. Without bonuses, however, she only received 120.19 (58.42/61.77) points for the long and had to settle for silver with a total of 175.89 points.
“I am happy with my performance today, even though I did not perform a triple-triple combination,” said the 19-year-old. “I think I gave my best effort. After the yesterday’s disaster, I had to pull myself together and I think I skated 100% today.”
Leonova was not upset about not winning the title. “Ksusha [Makarova] skated really well today. She was ahead of me after the short and she remained ahead. That’s sport.”
Makarova finished third in the long program, and with a total score of 178.90 points, captured the title. The daughter of Larisa Selezneva and Oleg Makarov opened her routine to The 13th Warrior with a strong triple toeloop-triple toeloop combination, but fell on her triple flip attempt a few seconds later. The 17-year-old also underrotated her triple loop, however, two clean triple Salchows combined with good non-jumping elements and +3.00 bonus allowed her to score 116.15 (58.55/58.60) points and hold off the rest of the competitors.
“I am very happy to be here,” said Makarova. “I skated ok. This year I train also in New Jersey with Galina Yakovlevna Zmievskaya and Johnny Weir and they help me a lot. They teach me how to skate better and how to present myself better.”
Makarova, who has not attempted a triple Lutz in competition so far, promised to do it the nearest future. “The jump is ready, but I was feeling a bit jet-lagged here, so I have not tried it yet. But I will do it at the later events.”
Makarova’s immediate goal is skating clean at her first European Championships. “I really want to go to the Europeans and skate two clean programs. I hope it will be enough to qualify for the Olympics, because I would love to skate in Vancouver.”
Last year’s champion Adelina Sotnikova of Moscow (MOS) placed fourth in the long program (112.92 points) and overall (172.69 points) after she fell on her opening triple Lutz-triple loop combination. She also later fell on a second triple Lutz in her intricate program to Scherezade. However, the 13-year-old landed a double Axel-triple toeloop combination and two other triple jumps, and received good grades of execution for most of her elements.
Anna Ovcharova (MOS) placed fifth in the long (102.36 points) and overall (157.53 points). The 13-year-old attempted ambitious jumps, skipping easier toeloops and Salchows in favor of the Lutz and flips, but she failed to achieve good grades of execution. Though she underrotated a loop and a flip, her performance to Don Quixote was as exciting and inspiring as her short program.
Overnight leader Sofia Biryukova (MOS) slipped to sixth overall (154.56 points) after placing seventh in the long. The student of Viktoria Volchkova appeared tense and nervous, and while she landed her opening triple toe loop-triple toeloop combination, she struggled with her other jumping passes.
Oksana Gozeva (MOS) turned out to be the third highest age-eligible skater by pulling up to seventh place overall with four rotated, but flawed triple jumps. Her main rival, Katarina Gerboldt (MOS), rotated only two and finished in the ninth place.
The event continues with the Original Dance and the Pairs Short Program.