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Anna Shcherbakova runs off with Russian National title in debut

Anna Shcherbakova

Anna Shcherbakova performs her Free Skate at the 2019 Russian National Figure Skating Championships.

2019 Russian Figure Skating Championships

Ladies’ Free Skate

The 2019 Russian National Championships concluded with a dramatic Ladies Final with quad queens Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova taking gold and silver. Alena Kostornaia repeated as the bronze medalist while Olympic Champion Alina Zagitova faltered and finished off the podium. Two-time World Champion Evgenia Medvedeva climbed from 14th to 7th place.

Skating to “Introduction et Rondo Capriccioso,” 14-year-old Sherbakova stunned the crowd with her quad Lutz and followed up with a triple flip-triple loop, triple Lutz-triple toe, triple flip-Euler-triple Salchow, a triple Lutz and two double Axels. Her exquisite layback spin and combination spin merited a level four. The Muscovite scored 155.69 points and racked up 229.78 points overall to take the title in what was her debut at the senior-level Nationals.

“I’m pleased I did all my jumps, but I still need to work and to improve my spins that weren’t so good after the jumps,” the ISU Junior Grand Prix Finalist said. “My job was just to skate clean. It is very unexpected for me to win and I still haven’t realized what just happened.”

Trusova opened her program to music from The Fifth Element soundtrack with a quad Lutz as well, but then fell on the quad toe. She rallied to reel off seven triples, including three triple-triple combinations, and picked up level fours for the spins. The reigning World Junior Champion earned 154.75 points and totaled 229.71 points to remain in second place.

“I’m not so happy with my free, because I missed the quad toe. I will work more on my quads,” the 14-year-old announced. “I really wanted to skate at senior Nationals and I’m glad they let us skate this year. For Junior Nationals, the goal is the same. We’ll prepare in the same way and want to skate clean.”

Kostornaia’s beautiful performance to “Romeo and Juliet” by Abel Korzeniowski featured seven triple jumps and two double Axes as well as excellent spins and footwork. She earned positive GOEs for all elements to score 152.14 points for a total score of 226.54.

“I went for the maximum in my jump content. There are a few little errors that I want to fix,” the 15-year-old told the press. “I thought I could make the top three if I showed my maximum and I’m glad I was able to participate in this event.” Kostornaia had also won the bronze medal a year ago.

The three medalists are not age-eligible for international senior-level events.

Stanislava Konstantinova, who finished fourth, is the top-ranked eligible skater. She put out a solid performance to Anna Karenina, but singled an Axel and under-rotated a triple Lutz (212.92 points).

“I’m not too happy with my free as I made mistakes, but I proved that I am competitive in this field,” the 18-year-old said.

Zagitova had an off-day, falling on the triple Lutz and a double Axel and wobbling in the choreo sequence. The Olympic Champion was ranked only 12th in the free skating with 131.41 points and dropped from first to fifth on 212.03 points overall. After her performance, the 16-year-old was in tears and did not speak to the media.

Sofia Samodurova skated well to come sixth with 209.77 points.

Evgenia Medvedeva recovered from her faulty short program and gave a much better performance. She landed her new triple Salchow-triple loop combination, but she crashed on a double Axel-triple toe combo attempt (205.09 points).

“Even though I made a mistake, I am pleased with today’s performance,” said Medvedeva. “Too bad about the Axel-toe, but I had no chance to land it. Yesterday, I was really down and I want to say a big thank you to one person, whom I’m not going to name, that talked to me for one hour on the phone. If we didn’t have that conversation about everything, I probably would not have been able to skate the way I did today.”

The three top age-eligible skaters are Konstantinova, Zagitova and Samodurova. On Sunday, the Russian Figure Skating Federation will announce the team for the ISU European Figure Skating Championships. The top two in each discipline can expect to be named on the team, while for the third spot, the coaches’ council can recommend to send another skater. It is very well possible that Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, who missed the Championships due to pneumonia, is named to the team provided that she is recovered from illness.