Home Figure Skating News Sofia Akateva skates off with gold in senior Russian National debut

Sofia Akateva skates off with gold in senior Russian National debut

by Tatjana Flade
Mihhail Sharov
Sofia Akateva

Sofia Akateva performs her Free Skate at the 2023 Russian National Figure Skating Championships.

2023 Russian Nationals: Women’s Recap

Fifteen-year-old Sofia Akateva skated off with gold in her debut at the senior-level Russian National Championships on Friday. Defending Champion Kamila Valieva , who stood in fourth after the short program, pulled up from fourth to take the silver. To the delight of fans in Russia and all over the World, “The Empress” Elizaveta Tuktamysheva returned to the national podium at for the first time since the 2014-15 season, earning the bronze.

Akateva won the short with a strong performance that included a triple Axel (85.59 points). The Axel was Akateva’s opening jump in her free skate to “Welcome to the Earth” as well, but she missed it. Unfazed, the Russian Junior Champion went on to hit a quad toe-double Axel, another quad toe (slightly underrotated), as well as six triple jumps and level-four spins and footwork. The Muscovite ranked second in the long program (164.15), but stayed at the top of the podium with 249.74 points.

“To be honest, I am in shock,” admitted Akateva. “Obviously, my performance was not clean, but this is just a reason to work even harder on the triple Axel. It didn’t work out, unfortunately. (After this success) I will not lose my head for sure, this is just the beginning. For me it is a big honor to compete with such famous athletes.”

Valieva had a problem with the triple Axel as well. She went for it in the short program to “Interstellar” and singled the jump. The rest of the program was excellent and she remained close to the podium in fourth place at 76.61 points. The 2022 European Champion then turned in a strong performance in the free skate in which she tells her side of the story of what happened to her at the Olympic Winter Games. After a failed drug test from Nationals in December 2021 became public in early February during the Olympic Games, a huge scandal had erupted around the teenager. The case is still under investigation. Now, the international Court of Arbitration (CAS) has taken over, however, it is unknown when there will be a decision.

In her free skate, Valieva produced a quad toe-double Axel, a quad toe and five triples, as well as excellent spins and footwork. The only glitch came when she doubled a flip, which most likely cost her the gold medal. The 16-year-old ranked first in the free skate with 170.71 points and accumulated 247.32 points overall.

“I felt more nervous in the short program,” said Valieva. “In the free, I just enjoyed, I skated for the audience. I did two quad toes, like in 2021. I am very happy to be at nationals, it is my third one (at the senior level). I would like to congratulate Sonia and Lisa, they did a great job!”

Tuktamysheva competed in her 15th Russian Nationals. The first time was back in the 2007-08 season when Akateva was just half a year old. She just celebrated her 26th birthday a week ago and is eight years older than the next oldest competitor, 18-year-old Kseniia Sinitsyna. In other words, she is a phenomena in the sport.

“The Empress” proved once more that she is competitive and laid down a flawless short program to “Feeling Good” that included the triple Axel and a triple Lutz-triple toe combination. The 2015 World Champion turned in a sublime free skate to “Loneliness,” completing two triple Axels and four clean triples. However, the 2021 World silver medalists doubled her flip and underrotated the loop. Tuktamysheva ranked fourth in the free skating (158.74 points) and slipped from second to third at 241.72 points overall.

“I can compare this bronze medal with my silver from Worlds (2021),” said Tuktamysheva. “It probably means even more to me than my silver that I won in 2015. Russian Nationals is always the most responsible and most nerve-racking competition. I am happy that I stood up, like the other girls. I think we all made ourselves a nice New Year’s present.”

Sofia Muravieva fell on a triple Axel, but landed another one in the free skate to place fourth at 235.96 points.

“I am not very happy with my skate, I didn’t manage to win a medal,” Muravieva said. “Nerves kicked in before the (triple) Axel. I didn’t skate clean, and without a clean performance, there is no talk about a good placement.”

Adeliia Petrosian crashed on a quad loop, but recovered to hit two quad toes. She came in fifth (235.72).

“The quad loop didn’t work out,” noted the 15-year-old from Moscow. “Obviously, I am upset about that, but I am glad that I was able to pull myself together for the remaining elements.”

It was a high level competition. Anastasia Zinina (6th) and Alina Gorbacheva (9th) landed a quad toe and Salchow respectively.

Alexandra Trusova withdrew from the competition prior to the short program citing illness.

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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