Home Figure Skating News Dramatic tie-breaking win for Semenenko at Russian Nationals

Dramatic tie-breaking win for Semenenko at Russian Nationals

by Tatjana Flade
Mihail Sharov
Evgeni Semenenko

Evgeni Semenenko performs his Free Skate at the 2023 Russian National Figure Skating Championships.

2023 Russian Nationals: Men’s Recap

Evgeni Semenenko took the men’s Russian National title in what turned out to be a dramatic tie-breaking win in Krasnoyarsk on Friday night. The skater could not believe his eyes when the scores of overnight leader and last skater, Petr Gumennik, came up. The total score popped up and it was identical: 295.07 points. But Semenenko had won the free skate segment, and thus, became the new Russian Champion ahead of Gumennik. The bronze went to Alexander Samarin.

Semenenko stood in second place following the short program on Thursday. Skating to “Adagio” by Albinoni, the 19-year-old hit a quad toe-triple toe, quad Salchow and triple Axel, but all spins were a level three and the step sequence a level two. Semenenko scored 99.15 points. He came out with grey colored hair for the free skate to “Trust Fund Baby” by the Korean boy group TXT (Tomorrow X Together) and he was on fire, reeling off a quad Salchow and quad toe, as well as two triple Axels in combination and two solo triple jumps. Only his first quad toe-triple toe was somewhat shaky and the quad was slightly underrotated. Semenenko ranked first in the free skate with 195.92 points, and this was the tie-breaker he needed to overtake Gumennik.

“I am usually looking at the scoreboard, before and after I skate, (to see) how many points I need, but here I didn’t pay attention,” Semenenko shared. “When Petia (Petr) received his score, I didn’t understand it. I thought he got exactly what he needed to come first. And then I saw that the score was identical. I think everyone was in shock.” And he added: “Each of us without exception deserves the gold. We are all striving towards that, towards good results. This podium is work and talent.”

Gumennik shone in the short program as well. He completed a quad Salchow-triple toe, quad loop, triple Axel and three level-four spins to earn 104.47 points. The skater, who comes like Semenenko from St. Petersburg, opened his program to “Concierto de Aranjuez” with a quad Salchow-triple toe. He then followed up with a quad loop and two triple Axels. However, the solo quad Salchow was underrotated and his most costly error came when he doubled the Lutz. Gumennik earned 190.60 points.

“Today, I didn’t skate that well,” Gumennik admitted. “I hardly can call it a champion’s performance, so being second is fine with me. I was lacking confidence a bit. This is my first Nationals that I realistically could have won. Doing it at the first try is hard. I hope that it will be the first place next time.”

It was the first senior national medal for both Semenenko and Gumennik.

Bronze medalist Samarin competed in his 11th senior-level Nationals and won his fifth medal. He now has two silver (2017 and 2018) and three bronze (2019 and 2020) medals. The Muscovite placed fifth in the short program. He landed a quad Lutz, but the triple Lutz-triple toe combination was a bit wild. Samarin then delivered one of his best long programs in a while, reeling off a quad Lutz-triple toe and seven triples, including two Axels. The components are his weakness and some landings were not very elegant, but he stood up on his jumps. Samarin scored 185.83 points and pulled up to third at 282.40 points overall.

“The guys turned in an incredible fight with their skates and their scores,” observed 24-year-old Samarin. “I haven’t seen anything like this in my 11 years at nationals. I am happy for myself, regardless that I am in third. After some misfortunes, my team and I didn’t stop and continued. I am glad that I am giving the young guys a fight and that I’m pushing them. This medal is very valuable for me, it is like gold to me.”

Dmitri Aliev stepped out of his quad Salchow and underrotated the triple Axel in his short program and placed ninth in the segment. The 2020 European Champion stepped it up in the free skate to “What a Wonderful World” and produced a quad toe, quad Salchow, quad toe-triple toe. However, he struggled with his triple Axel, popping the first one and underrotating the second. Nevertheless, he moved up to fourth at 272.57 points.

“It’s not for the first time that I’m doing great quads and then there was this error on the Axel,” analyzed Aliev. “It cost ten points. But overall, I am happy that the Dimka Aliev that wants to skate and to fight, is coming back. I made a few errors on which I lost quite a few points. I knew and I felt that at this competition there won’t be a major failure. Yes, I made mistakes, maybe I was too nervous or I did not sleep well, but overall, I did my job.”

Artem Kovalev, a young skater from Moscow, finished fifth with 268.52 points. His only major error came when he doubled a quad toe in his free skate.

“It’s a shame about the quad,” said the 19-year-old. “Usually I am missing the third quad (in the program), not the second. I think I wouldn’t have been in the top three regardless. I am just up and coming. I am happy with the result with only one error in two programs.”

Andrei Mozalev slipped from third to sixth after missing a quad toe and some smaller errors (267.90 points).

Overall, the Russian Men displayed a high level of skating and have definitely improved. Two top skaters missed the Championship: 2022 European and Russian Champion Mark Kondratiuk suffers from a back injury. He did the short, but skated poorly to finish 12th and withdrew before the free skate. Three-time National Champion Mikhail Kolyada caught the flu at the beginning of December, which turned into a sinusitis and had to withdraw a few days before the event started.

Editor’s Note: Golden Skate supports the sanctions imposed on Russia for their government’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine’s sovereignty and the territorial integrity of its land and people. However, we also recognize that many Russian citizens, including Russian athletes, do not support the war on Ukraine. As an international skating news platform, we have a duty to report on skating events worldwide, including Russian Nationals. We hope that one day soon, there will be peace. Until then, we are still committed to providing these services as we have for the past 23 years.

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