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Kostornaia takes gold in Russian sweep at Europeans

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2020 Europeans

Ladies’ Free Skate

Alena Kostornaia maintained her lead after the Short Program to win the title in Graz, Austria, despite a second-place free skate. Teammates Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova finished in second and third, respectively, for a Russian sweep of the Ladies’ podium.

Kostornaia fell on a triple Lutz, but landed two triple Axels, one in combination with a double toe, and five more solid triple jumps in her stylish routine to “The Meadow,” “Eyes on Fire” and “Supermassive Black Hole.” The 2018 World Junior silver medalist also earned level 4 for all spins and scored 155.89 points for second place in the free skate. With a total score of 240.81, she was able to maintain first overall.

“I didn’t think I would be an European champion,” said the 2018 World Junior silver medalist. “I’m happy, it’s a real surprise! My free program had a few mistakes and I’m happy I could do it. I  thought I would give myself hardly a C (grade), but am happy it happened so fast and so suddenly on my first season.”

“I imagined was going to lose by something like 0.03 points, so I just continued to skate my best,” the 16-year-old said of her fall on the Lutz.

Shcherbakova gave an extraordinary performance to Gnossiennes and The Firebird despite a fall on an attempted quad Lutz and an underrotated quad flip. However, the 15-year-old landed a quad Lutz-triple toe and four clean triple jumps while showing level 4 spins to earn 159.81 points for first place. With a total score of 237.76, she fell short of the top spot by just over three points.

“I was surprised and upset,” said the 2019 World Junior silver medalist of her falls. The beginning was so good, the first jumps were so good, but then the emotions went down because I was not raising the program, so it was not what I was looking for.”

“It was huge,” she added of the crowd’s support, “it really helped. At the end, I was out of breath, but they really helped me.”

In a dynamic routine to music from Game of Thrones, Trusova landed a quad toe-triple toe and five solid triple jumps, but took a fall on a quad Lutz and quad toe. Despite the mistakes, the 15-year-old earned a level 4 on her footwork and all spins, scoring 150.39 for third place in the free skate and 225.34 overall to maintain third place overall.

“After nationals, I was told never cry, even if something goes wrong like today,” said the two-time World Junior champion of the two falls. “So now I am learning how to perform well after that. It was really hard for me to bring together everything for these last two competitions. I don’t think that’s it’s a kind of technical thing. I probably became taller a bit, but don’t think it could affect my jumping skills. It’s mostly a mental question. I want to do my best, but it doesn’t work sometimes. Anyway, I want to keep on jumping all the quads whatever will be going on. My dog Tina supports me as usual. She was sitting in the tribune with my mom.”

Alexia Paganini of Switzerland showed good effort in her routine to music from La La Land, landing a triple Lutz-triple toe and triple Salchow as well as a triple loop-double toe-double loop. The three-time national champion underrotated and fell on a triple Lutz and also missed a choreo sequence, but showed level 4 footwork and spins to finish fourth with a new personal best of 124.06.  With a total score of 192.88, she maintained fourth overall, improving from her sixth-place finish last year.

“I worked so hard over the year and I really wanted to deliver it,” said the 18-year-old. “The program wasn’t perfect but I’m happy with that—those are the results I wanted.”

“I want to dedicate the program to my mom, dad, the coaches who help me and push me, the federation for believing in me and everyone who supported me,” she added. “Coming here, I was realistic—no one can touch the Russians. We were focusing and that was the best result we could have hoped for.”

Estonia’s Eva-Lotta Kiibus placed fifth in her free skate to “Historia de un amor” with a new personal best of 121.54. The 20-year-old from Helsinki was near-perfect, landing a total of  six triple jumps as well as two double Axels. Two spins and the footwork were graded a level 4 and she finished moved up from 11th to seventh overall (181.24).

“I feel amazing!” said the national champion. “It was such an experience. I felt so good and I skated with my heart. I didn’t think anything. The stumble in the warm up was a good thing—it shook me and I didn’t think anymore about the jumps— it was my time to skate and I just let it be.”

Ekaterina Ryabova of Azerbaijan received an edge call on both her triple Lutz jumps and also doubled and stepped out of a flip, but otherwise gave a good performance. She placed sixth in the free skate (119.27) and overall (181.49).

“I tried to do my best today,” said the 2019 Volvo Open Cup silver medalist. “Unfortunately, I had some mistakes, but I am glad that I kept my placement in the top six.”

Finland’s Emmi Peltonen had a good start, but took a fall on a triple loop and underrotated and stepped out of a double Axle-Euler-triple Salchow. It was still a personal best for the national champion who finished seventh 121.54 in the free skate and fifth overall (181.79).

“My free skate was OK,” said the three-time national champion. “It just had two mistakes I am not proud of, because I know I can do it usually. I am happy, though, with my Lutz and the triple (toe)-triple (toe) combination. This is my first year with this free skate, so it’s all about getting more and more into it. I really love this free, and I enjoy my skate every time I go out. It was a really good moment here. I have been working on staying more calm and to trust what I can do. I always wanted to attack. The younger me was always attacking the jumps and then they were all over the place.”

Alessia Tornaghi finished eighth overall (172.17) followed by Mae Berenice Meite of France (172.08) and Poland’s Ekaterina Kurakova (170.24).