The second set of medals at the 2012 Russian National Figure Skating Championships was decided in the ice dancing competition. The top three teams maintained their overnight positions with Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev winning their second consecutive title in a row.
Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov captured the first silver at this event (at the senior level), while and Ekaterina Riazanova and Ilia Tkachenko settled for the bronze.
Bobrova and Soloviev were last to skate in the Free Dance and their Walpurgis Night provided a great closure to the tight and error-ridden event. They were one of the few teams to avoid visible stumbles and maintained strong flow throughout the entire dance. They scored 101.24 for the free dance and 171.47 in total.
“It was not an outstanding performance,” said Bobrova at the press conference. “I guess we were simply too tired after all the competitions we had this fall.” said Bobrova at the press conference.
“We had to wait really long for our turn,” she added. “I had even taken the skates off and had enough time to play some games on my phone. Nonetheless, we managed to pull ourselves together. It was much easier for me to skate, both mentally and physically, than in the short dance. For me it was a pleasure. I love this free dance. I felt great and the public supported us very well. I was warmed by the thought that there were only four minutes left to go and then it’s going to be the New Year.”
“We are, of course, aware of some issues we had in the dance,” Bobrova continued. “We will make some changes to the dances, replace some parts of them, make some things easier, and other things more complex. We have already changed the costumes. It was a tryout here. These costumes will stay for the European and World Championships. Everybody liked them and I also like them.”
“I think it is good to change costumes from time to time,” agreed Soloviev. “It freshens up the impression.”
“You really feel different in different costumes,” explained Bobrova. “Yesterday we skated the short dance in different costumes and the dance as a whole felt different.”
“We still have not had time to analyze our Grand Prix Final performances and figure out what we have to work on first,” said Soloviev, about their less than successful outing in Quebec. “We only had time to do a couple of complete run-throughs since we got back from Canada to get back in shape. We will make all the necessary changes after the New Year. There is enough time left.”
“It will be our first trip to England, so we are already excited,” said Bobrova about the upcoming European Championships in Sheffield.
“We will calmly prepare for the competition,” elaborated Soloviev. “Our goal is to avoid making small mistakes which distract from the overall impression of the dance. I know we can do it, because we do it in practices.”
Ilinykh and Katsalapov had to overcome a very long wait for the marks of the previous competitors, Riazanova and Tkachenko, before they were finally able to begin their performance.
“I thought we would never be allowed to get off the ice,” joked Katsalapov afterwards. “It felt like we could have skated our dance twice during the wait.”
The skaters were expressive and appropriately meditative in their interpretation of Ave Maria performed by Thomas Spencer-Wortley, but did not quite agree on what exactly their dance is about.
“You know, it is a bit difficult,” said Katsalapov. “The way it was intended to be, Elena is a kind of angelic being in her light dress and I am a sinner who prays to her for forgiveness of my sins.”
“Ave Maria is a prayer, so we pray,” said Ilinykh. “For everyone. It is very difficult to skate such a dance. Before this competition I could not quite figure out the emotional side of the program. I have been contemplating the music for a very long time, but I think I have finally got it. Now it is easier for me to skate.”
“We skated better than at the Grand Prix events,” claimed her partner. “Our coach agrees, or rather I agree with him, because it was him who told us that we did better than before. It was a difficult, though. I do not know if it was obvious to the audience or not, but we did not have enough stamina for the free dance.”
“We are perfectly comfortable with the short dance,” continued Katsalapov. “It is no longer exhausting us. We just skate it with pleasure, but the free dance is not quite there yet. But I believe that we will bring it up to that point by the next event.”
“Emotionally, it was the best we have ever done this dance,” added Ilinykh, “even compared to what we do in practices.”
Technically, there were some problems, however. Katsalapov stumbled during twizzle sequence, which received level three and negative Grades of Execution, and their second step sequence received only level two. They scored 95.00 for the dance and has 161.94 points in total.
The skaters who used to train alongside France’s Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat claim that they do not miss having other ice dancers in their new group.
“We still watch ice dancing all the time,” said Ilinykh. “Each week there was a Grand Prix event to follow. We attend competitions, we watch other dancers practice, and we look up great skaters from the past on youtube.”
Riazanova and Tkachenko were first to skate in the final group, but had a rough start to their Snowstorm free dance then they collided on the change of foot during the combination spin.
“It was no one’s fault,” said Riazanova. “Just an accident. We hit each other’s blades.”
As a result, the element was downgraded to level three and later they picked up another level three on the second rotational lift and level two on the circular step sequence. The low base value of the program resulted in them finishing only fourth in the free (89.49), however, they remained third overall (154.71).
“We were so happy with the fact that the competition was over for us, that we hardly noticed the wait,” said Riazanova about the delay with the announcement of their marks. “But we really felt for Elena and Nikita who were on the ice.”
“Everything is good,” said Tkachenko. “We are happy with our performance today. Especially considering the difficulties we had while preparing for the event. We are satisfied.”
“A couple of weeks ago there was an accident in practice,” explained Riazanova. “We were working on the short dance and we moved a wrong way and Ilia hit me in the nose with his elbow. I ended up with a concussion and a broken nose.”
Ekaterina Pushkash and Jonathan Guerreiro were competent and neat in their execution of the dance set to the famous Rhapsody on a theme by Paganini, and finished third in the free dance (90.32) and fourth overall (150.57).
Ksenia Monko and Kirill Khaliavin remained in fifth place (146.28).