The Ladies event at the 2010 Russian National Figure Skating Championships is a two-fold competition. With only half of the competitors being age-eligible for ISU Championships, securing a spot on the Olympic team and winning a medal at Nationals are not necessarily the same thing.
Sofya Biryukova of Moscow (MOS) took the lead in the ladies short program after performing a clean and passionate routine to Libertango.
Biryukova landed a solid triple toeloop-triple toeloop combination and solo triple flip, but her double Axel out of a spread eagle was somewhat tentative. The student of Viktoria Volchkova posted 62.97 (37.93/25.04) points which included a +3.00 bonus that the Russian Figure Skating Federation awards to ladies landing a clean triple-triple combination.
“It is the first time that I participated in Senior Nationals,” said Biryukova at the post-event press conference. “I’m very pleased to be here and skate so well. I felt a lot of support from the audience today.”
Biryukova (15), who was who was born three weeks after the July 1st cut-off, also confessed that she did not expect to do quite so well. “In the beginning of the season I was not even sure that I would qualify for the Nationals, but as the season progressed I grew more and more confident and started to believe that I would be here. I am so happy to do so well today.”
Ksenia Makarova of St. Petersburg (SPB), another Senior Russian Nationals debutante, is virtually tied with Biryukova with 62.75 (34.49/28.26) points. The Junior Grand Prix finalist attempted the same jump content, however the second triple in her triple toeloop-triple toeloop combination was underrotated. Nonetheless, higher program components scores for her floating and smooth interpretation of music from the Ladies in Lavender soundtrack allowed her to catch up with her rival.
“For me it is also the first National championship and I am pleased to skate so well,” Makarova said. “I skated pretty well, but I was so tired… maybe because it was my debut. You always can perform some elements better, but I think it was my best performance in this season. At the most important moment, too. I think it will be easier tomorrow.
Defending national champion Adelina Sotnikova (MOS) opened her program with an impressive triple Lutz-triple loop combination attempt, however, she underrotated and fell on the landing of the second jump. She went on to land a solo triple flip and double Axel and produced strong spins and spirals in her engaging program to Strauss’ waltzes and is currently a close third with 59.77 (33.32/27.45) points.
“For me that is not the first Championships,” noted Sotnikova. “It’s a pity that I did not skate well today, but I’m certain that I’ll come stronger next time.”
Sotnikova admitted that she is feeling pressure of being the defending champion. “It is a lot of responsibility and we do have a lot of new and very strong girls. But I’ve done my best and hopefully I will skate better tomorrow.”
Alena Leonova (SPB), the leader of the Russian Ladies team, skated third of 14 participants. She opened her program with a solid triple flip-double toeloop combination, but opened her triple Lutz attempt in the air and fell on the landing of her flying sit spin immediately afterwards.
Leonova, who has gained a lot of confidence over the last year, was undeterred by the mistakes and delivered one of the most inspiring and energetic performances of the night and the audience cheered her throughout her entire Barynja routine. The 2009 ISU Grand Prix finalist scored 55.70 (26.93/28.77) points and remains in medal contention.
“For some reason I often skate worse in Russia than abroad,” said Leonva. “However, I’ve tried my best today. The Lutz was not good at the warm- up either. it took me several attempts to land it, but I have never missed a spin before!”
Anna Ovcharova (MOS) continued to impress both the audience and the judges with her skating. The student of Svetlana Sokolovskaya had one of the most intricate programs of the night in which all the required elements were linked with connecting steps, and she expressed the character of her jazz medley routine perfectly. Her technical content was also impressive. The 13-year-old attempted a triple Lutz-double loop combination, but underrotated the second jump. Nevertheless, she landed a clean triple flip and double Axel and earned 55.17 (31.26/23.91) points for fifth place.
Kristina Zaseeva, another debutante, is sitting in a close sixth with 54.76 (32.95/21.81) points. The skater opened her routine with a good triple toe loop-triple toe loop combination and triple Lutz out of steps, but then appeared to lose her concentration. She started to lose balance on the first position of spiral sequence and was forced to abandon it and later fell on the flying sit spin.
Katarina Gerboldt (MOS), one of the favorites to win the spot on the national team, currently sits in seventh with 53.50 points, while last year’s silver medalist Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (SPB) is 10th (48.96 points).
The event continues with the Men’s Short Program.