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Spectacular Kostornaia storms to lead at Russian Nationals

Alena Kostornaia

Alena Kostornaia performs her Short Program to “The Departure” and “November” by Max Richter.

2020 Russian Nationals

Ladies’ Short Program

A spectacular Alena Kostornaia stormed to a ten-point lead in the Ladies’ Short Program at Russian Nationals on Friday in Krasnoyarsk. Anna Shcherbakova came second followed by Alexandra Trusova.

The Russian Ladies are incredibly strong right now, however, Kostornaia managed even to out skate her talented teammates with an absolute “wow” performance. The ISU Grand Prix Final Champion hit a triple Axel, triple Lutz, triple flip-triple toe and produced exquisite spins and footwork in her routine to “November” and “Departure” by Max Richter. The 16-year-old accumulated massive grades of execution (GOE) and got an average of 9.5 in all components to score 89.86 points. While scores tend to be inflated at the national level, she probably could have obtained the same score internationally with the performance she gave.

“I can answer for all of us – the three of us are happy with our skate,” Kostornaia said. “There is still something to work on, but we’re pleased. I just wanted to skate clean and make the spectators happy. The last thing I was thinking about is the score and the responsibility.”

The delicate Shcherbakova was impressive as well, but she only had a double Axel, triple flip and triple Lutz-triple loop combo in her routine to Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. The 15-year-old is trailing Kostornaia by almost ten points with 79.93 points.

“I was more nervous than last year, because I felt it is a qualifying competition,” Shcherbakova noted. “Therefore, I was nervous, but I tried to focus on my program, to do the jumps. I managed in the short and now I have to do the same in the free and skate clean.”

Trusova–or rather her coaching team–decided not to go for the triple Axel as it was not consistent in practice. The two-time World Junior Champion also skated clean with a double Axel, a triple flip and a triple Lutz-triple toe combo to score 76.46 points for her program set to Peer Gynt by Edvard Grieg.

“The decision was made after practice,” shared Trusova. “The coaches said, let’s go without the Axel today, you have to qualify for Europeans. I really wanted to do it though, and in practice I suggested that I will do the Axel. I think you’re always nervous in competition, but obviously, here, it is about making the team and it is more nerve-wrecking. You want to do everything and that makes it harder to skate the program.”

Elizaveta Tuktamysheva pulled off a triple Axel, but did a three turn on the landing. Her triple flip-triple toe and triple Lutz were solid, but not as confident as they could have been, and the 2015 World Champion also lost a few points on the change foot combo spin. The 20-year-old still sits in medal contention with 75.74 points.

“Considering my condition before the performance, I am basically satisfied,” said Tuktamysheva. “There were nerves that could have affected the performance. I am pleased, although it was not ideal.”

“I should skate with more confidence,” she continued. “The jumps today were not as great as I can do them. I just want to go out and do my work and not to overthink. The competition is so tough that you cannot make the smallest errors.” She added that she does not know yet whether she will risk the quad toe that she has recently landed in practice for the Free Skate.

There was a lot of drama surrounding Evgenia Medvedeva, whose right skating boot broke in practice on Thursday. Eventually she skated in her old boot that she secured with tape and laces. Performing to “Exogenesis Symphony Part III”, the 2018 Olympic silver medalist underrotated the back end of her triple flip-triple toe combination, but managed a double Axel and a triple loop to earn 71.08 points. She is currently ranked fifth.

“The right boot is broken,” stated the 2019 World bronze medalist. “This is officially the hardest competition of my life. The catastrophe in the true sense of the word happened yesterday in practice. There was an unpleasant fall in practice after which it turned out that the boot was broken. We tried to find new ones, but they didn’t have my model and my size. There were beginners’ boots in my size, we mounted the blades on them, but it didn’t work. I skated in them last night. Then we switched the blades back to the old boots. I tried my best.”

Anastasiia Guliakova turned in a solid program to Carmen that included a triple flip-triple toe combination, but she received an edge call on her triple Lutz. The 17-year-old finished sixth with 66.85 points. 2019 European Champion Sofia Samodurova underrotated her triple Lutz-triple toe combo and the triple flip to place 11th (64.38 points).