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Shcherbakova snags Gran Premio d’Italia title

Anna Shcherbakova

Russia’s Anna Shcherbakova performs her Free Skate at 2021 Gran Premio d’Italia.

Russia’s Anna Shcherbakova rose from third to snag the Women’s gold at the 2021 Gran Premio d’Italia (Grand Prix of Italy) in Torino, Italy, on Saturday. Teammate Maiia Khromykh pocketed the silver in her Grand Prix debut, while Loena Hendrickx of Belgium earned the bronze.

Shcherbakova put out a flawless routine which included a quad flip and seven solid triple jumps. All elements, including the level-four spins and footwork, received high grades of execution (GOEs) and the 2021 World Champion finished first in the free skate with a new personal best of 165.05. With a total score of 236.78, she rose from third to first overall.

“This shows I’m moving into the right direction,” said the 17-year-old, who will compete next at Internationaux de France. “I was really focusing on my elements from the very beginning to the final pose. The main goal was to show my quad. I had some mistakes, especially in the short program, which needs to be good and clean every time, so I will work on that. I am very happy with my free skate.”

Shcherbakova, who is in good health and can train quads with no problems now, sported a new dress at this event. “The first dress was made very quickly, so now we had more time to put in for the new dress. I like how the colors come together. Maybe there will be some more details added.”

Khromykh stepped out of a triple loop, but that was the only mistake in her performance to Moulin Rouge. The 15-year-old opened with a solid quad toe-double toe followed by a solo quad toe and landed an additional five triple jumps. She also sported level-four spins in her Grand Prix debut at this event. Only her footwork was graded a level two and she earned a new personal best of 154.31 for the free skate and maintained second overall with another personal best total score of 226.35.

“I am satisfied and at the same time, not,” she said of her free skate. “I made an error on the loop and the footwork was not so good. The second place is not bad, but I will strive for victory in the future. I’m glad I was able to get a medal in my first Grand Prix and for me that means ‘I can do it!’ You have to be mentally strong and believe in yourself.”

Khromykh will compete next at the Warsaw Cup in Poland and then will prepare for Rostelecom Cup in Russia.

Hendrickx put out a solid skate that featured six clean triple jumps as well as level four spins and footwork. The three-time national champion placed third in the free skate and overall, earning a new personal best for both scores (145.53/219.05). It was the first time in history that a woman from Belgium earned a medal at a Grand Prix event.

“It was very emotional!” she said. “It’s just a dream come true. I worked hard and I think I can be very proud!”

Hendrickx, who had struggled with injuries last season, was able to train every day all summer and was confident coming into the event. She will compete next at nationals and Rostelecom Cup. Her goal is to continue to work on her stability.

Mai Mihara of Japan also produced a solid skate which featured seven triple jumps. All spins and footwork were graded a level four and she rose from fifth after the short to fourth overall (144.49/214.95) with new personal best scores.

“Before even going into my first pose the crowd was cheering and I could hear them in Japanese saying ‘Good Luck!’ and ‘Work Hard!'” she said. “My coach said to be careful with my sit spin. I’m really happy with my personal best. I haven’t been making major mistakes in training; There will always be muscle aches, but I have really good sense of what my body is capable of.”

The 2021 Asian Open Trophy Champion was tired after coming from Skate Canada last week, but said there wasn’t too much fatigue. Yesterday she said there was lots to improve in both the GOE and Component scores and wants to catch up with the higher level skaters.

“After skating today, I realize I need to be more powerful and accelerate my speed and that’s what my coach told me in the Kiss & Cry,” said Mihara. “I want to bring back the learnings from here to my next performance. I want to thank the audience and everyone.”

Nationals will be her next competition, which is crucial of the Olympic selection. I realize I need to be more powerful and accelerate my speed.

Teammate Satoko Miyahara placed fifth in the free skate (138.72) and overall (209.57). The Japanese bronze medalist slightly underrotated both jumps in her opening triple Lutz-triple toe. She also underrotated the first and last jump in a triple flip-double toe-double loop, but earned a level four on all spins and footwork which garnered many positive GOEs.

“Overall, there were some issues with some things, but at least I landed all jumps today,” she said. “I think it’s a pretty big step from the last two seasons and I think I was in control of myself better.” She is going back to Japan to train for Nationals.

“There were small mistakes, but I put out the minimum level of what I had been doing in practice, so I did feel I did well,” she said. “The audience was cheering and applauding and when I finished all my jumps, it really encouraged me to put everything I have towards the end. I was really happy and want to thank them.”

“For nationals, I will go back to Japan and focus on the quality of my jumps and confidence and make sure I can do my best in the competition,” Miyahara added. “I will go through the nationals in my head and prepare everything thinkable. Jump quality means I need to get the timing and speed right every time.”

Yelim Kim of South Korea landed six triple jumps, but the both triple Lutz jumps received an edge call and she also popped a loop. She finished in sixth place overall (193.50).

Russia’s Sofia Samodurova put a hand down and stepped out the landing of a double flip, but was otherwise clean. In all, she produced six clean triple jumps and finished seventh overall (180.59).

“I’m really happy with the free skate, but there was a big mistake on the triple flip,” she pointed out. The 2019 European Champion chose music from the Mulan soundtrack because she thinks the music is “beautiful” and that it parallels with her life as a fighter.

Eunsoo Lim of South Korea finished eighth overall (179.58) followed by Yi Zhu of China (171.25).

“I didn’t do everything, but I met my goals,” said Zhu, adding that there were still many competitions before skaters are chosen for China’s Olympic team. “There were many mistakes, but it was way better than I have done in the past. My stamina has definitely improved and I’m training more and more. I’ll keep doing what I’ve been doing and incorporate more with time.”

Nicole Schott of Germany placed 10th overall (167.20) after earning a season’s best in her frees skate.

“I’m actually pretty happy, I was not perfect, but I was pretty solid,” said the five-time national champion. “I expected a bit more.”

Italy’s Lara Naki Gutmann finished 11th (158.57) followed by teammate Lucrezia Beccari (148.29)who made her Grand Prix debut at this event.

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