2023 Russian Nationals: Ice Dance Recap
Tears flowed in abundance for Elizaveta Khudaiberdieva and Egor Bazin, who were crowned the new Russian Ice Dance Champions in Krasnoyarsk on Friday. There were tears of disappointment at first, and then of happiness after the ice dancers from Balashikha realized that they just had won their first national title. The two new teams of Elizaveta Shanaeva/Pavel Drozd and Elizaveta Pasechnik/Maxim Nekrasov earned the silver and bronze medals, respectively.
It was not an easy victory for Khudaiberdieva and Bazin. The team won the rhythm dance in spite of a slip by Khudaiberdieva on a transition step. Nevertheless, the 2022 national bronze medalists collected a level four for all elements–the twizzles, pattern dance type step sequence, midline steps and rotational lift–to take a comfortable lead over Shanaeva and Drozd. The pressure was on for the free dance as Khudaiberdieva and Bazin had made errors in most of their other competitions this season. In fact, the press criticized them harshly. Additionally, Khudaiberdieva had been sick with the flu and was not feeling at her best. Sure enough, she went down on the twizzles in their free dance to a remix of “Sweet Dreams,” which were rated a level two for her. However, all other elements garnered level threes and fours, and the team managed to win the free dance segment (119.76) and overall (203.46).
“It was a difficult competition for us, but we have been working for moments like today,” said Bazin. “We are very happy to be Russian Champions. We had mixed emotions (in the Kiss &Cry). We were upset because of the mistakes, and at the same time, we were very happy with the result. It has been tough for Lisa after her illness with high temperature, but she did it. All those emotions came out in the Kiss and Cry.”
Shanaeva and Drozd had teamed up in spring after they both were left without a partner. Shanaeva’s partner, Devid Naryzhnyy, started to skate with Annabelle Morozov (however, this partnership only lasted for about half a year) while Drozd’s last partner, Angelique Abachkina, retired. Shanaeva and Drozd turned out to be a very good match and looked promising in their Russian Grand Prix events. In Krasnoyarsk, they put out two solid performances in their upbeat rhythm dance and their free dance to “Sheherazade” by Nikolai Rimski-Korsakov. The Muscovites collected a level four and three for their elements with the exception of Shanaeva’s part of the one foot foot step sequence. The students of Alexander Zhulin totaled 197.59 points.
“There were some little technical errors that did not allow us to get first place at least in the free dance,” commented Shanaeva. “It was not the cleanest performance and we’ll continue to work. “We’ll have a minimum of two more events this season and we’ll continue to develop.”
“Our goal was to improve every day, to show progress and to show that there is such a team,” Drozd added.
Pasechnik and Nekrasov had teamed up last spring as well, and convinced in their rhythm dance to “Gasolina,” as well as in their powerful free dance to “Dark Conscience” and “Mad World.” However, the team from the Moscow-suburb of Odintsovo had rather low levels. In the rhythm dance, only his twizzles and the straight line lift merited a level four. In the Free Dance, the team again picked up a level four for Nekrasov’s twizzles, as well as the stationary lift. They accumulated 195.52 points overall, not far behind Shanaeva and Drozd.
“We are a team that has been skating together for eight months,” noted Nekrasov. “We had no expectations. We just wanted to show that our new team exists and that we want something. It (the bronze medal) is a shock.”
Another new team, Sofya Tyutyunina and Andrei Bagin, came in fourth at 188.19 points, while Ekaterina Mironova and Evgeni Ustenko ranked fifth with 180.01 points.
Irina Khavronina and Dario Chirisano, who stood in fifth after the rhythm dance, withdrew prior to the free dance, citing illness.
With the top three teams of the Olympic season not competing, and several other teams having split up, Russian Ice Dance is currently rebuilding. What will happen with the former leaders remains to be seen. Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov are performing in shows, and a return to the competitive scene seems unlikely. Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin are taking a break this season, while Diana Davis and Gleb Smolkin understandably preferred to remain at their training base in the USA, skipping the national events. There are constant rumors of them switching countries, but nothing has been confirmed. Anabelle Morozov and Devid Naryzhnyy split after skating together for only a few months. Both are looking for new partners.
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