Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski won their second national title with a confident Free Dance. The team was a bit more cautious than yesterday, however, the lack of pressure was still evident throughout the dance.
Both skaters gave free rein to their emotions and delivered the program to maximum impact rather than with level of difficulty requirements in mind. The 2008 World bronze medalists did, however, skate nearly clean with only a couple of minor glitches: slightly out of unison twizzles and a small stumble during the step sequence. They received 95.34 points for the free dance and 194.78 points overall.
“We are pleased with the way we skated today,” said Novitski. “but perhaps we were too relaxed because we did not feel any pressure here. So we let ourselves to be carried away with emotions and forgot about the footwork a bit.”
“We were very disappointed to learn that Domnina and Shabalin withdrew from the competition,” added Khokhlova. “It is actually hard for us. It’s much easier to focus when you have strong rivals.”
Training mates Ekaterina Rubleva and Ivan Shefer place second in the Free Dance (87.68) and overall (176.31 points). The competition for the second spot on the podium and a trip to Europeans was fierce. The couple delivered their free dance with a lot of passion and precision, highlighting improvements in both confidence and technique which they have achieved since last season.
“It was a very important competition,” said Rubleva afterwards, “perhaps the most important one for us this season. We have not even considered the European Championships because we were focused on doing our best at nationals.”
Kristina Gorshkova and Vitali Butikov captured the bronze medal at their first Senior national championships with an elegant performance to music from The Godfather soundtrack. The 2008 World Junior bronze medalists performed all the required elements well, and moved nicely through the change of character during the dance – from a melancholic opening section to a sinister final, but the connection between the choreography of the dance and the famous story line remained unclear. They scored 85.27 points for the free dance and 172.80 points overall.
“We are happy with the way we skated here,” said Gorshkova. “I especially liked the compulsory and original dances, but the free dance did not work as well. We won the medal here, now we will prepare for the Winter University Games in Harbin.”
Anastasia Platonova and Alexander Grachev finished fourth (84.65 points) in the free dance with a touching interpretation of Babadganian’s Nocturne. Compared to the more dramatic routines presented by their rivals, the understated choreography of their program and the chemistry between the partners appealed to the audience. However, while their required elements were strong, the transitions in the dance were relatively simple. They finished fifth overall with 164.33 points.
Last year’s bronze medalists, Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev, had to settle for a disappointing fifth place (82.64 points) in the free dance and fourth (169.24 points) overall. The 2007 World Junior Champions attacked their Romeo and Juliet free dance with a lot of power, however, the dramatic interpretation failed a bit short of telling the famous story. The couple also had problems meeting the technical requirement on some of the elements.
Natalia Mikhailova and Arkadi Sergeev finished a distant sixth in the free dance (74.01 points) and overall (150.04 points).
The 2009 European Figure Skating Championships will be held Jan 20-26, 2009 in Helsinki, Finland at the Hartwall Arena.
The ladies who will represent Russia are Katarina Gerboldt and Alena Leonova (1st subst: Nina Petushkova, 2nd subst: Oksana Gozeva). The men are: Sergei Voronov, Artem Borodulin, and Andrei Lutai (1st subst: Vladimir Uspenski, 2nd subst: Andrei Griazev, 3rd subst: Konstantin Menshov).
The pair teams chosen were: Kawaguchi and Smirnov, Mukhortova and Trankov, and Iliushechkina and Maisuradze (1st subst: Krasilnikova and Bezmaternikh, 2nd subst: Imaikina and Novoselov).
For Ice Dance: Khokhlova and Novitski, Rubleva and Shefer, and Domnina and Shabalin (1st subst: Gorshkova and Butikov, 2nd subst: Bobrova and Soloviev, 3rd subst: Platonova and Grachev).