The first discipline to determine the Champion was the Ladies event, which concluded on Friday afternoon with the Ladies Long Program. In the end, Russia joined the recent trend of age-ineligible National Champions and set a record of the sort with two out of three medalists ineligible not only for Seniors, but also for Junior international events.
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva won the Long Program and moved up to capture the silver medal. The 12-year-old’s inspiring performance featured six triple jumps, including a triple toe loop-triple toe loop combination and two triple Lutzes, as well as a sequence of two double Axels.
Tuktamysheva showed improved understanding of her music and better basic skating skills compared to her debut a year ago when she finished 10th. While the choreography of her program could have been more intricate, she executed all the moves in a neat and controlled manner and captured the heart of the audience with her charming presentation.
The student of Alexei Mishin received 110.06 points for the long program and with 159.58 points overall, fulfilled her stated goal of winning a National Championships medal by finishing a close second.
“There are two versions as to how I started skating,” said Tuktamysheva at post event press conference. “Personally, I was too young, I just don’t remember. I competed in Belgorod every year at the Alexei Mishin Cup, and one year I won it. Alexei Mikhailovich decided he would like to see me, and after he did, he took some time off to think it over. He [eventually] invited me to join the group.”
Adelina Sotnikova won the title in her debut despite finishing second in the long program. The skater also attempted six triple jumps, but fell on her second triple Lutz and underrotated a triple toe loop in combination with a double Axel and double toe loop. She did, however, land clean a triple Lutz, flip, loop and Salchow, as well as a sequence of two double Axels.
While Sotnikova’s jumping content was not as strong as Tuktamysheva’s, her spins and spirals were much better, and her presentation and understanding of musical accents in her routine to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake were more mature. The 12-year-old’s major weakness at the moment, one which she shares with Tuktamysheva, seems to be quite typical for younger skaters: her stroking lacks power compared more seasoned competitors, which does not allow her to develop good flow across the ice. However, the precision of her moves is second to none, and she scored 105.62 points for her long program and 160.55 in total.
“My story is quite simple and straightforward,” said Sotnikova when asked how she began skating. “I started skating just for fun, but soon they saw something in me and I was offered a chance to join the CSKA club. I started to work with Inna Germanovna, and then moved to Elena Vodorezova’s group and then some choreographers joined the team.”
“It’s very important for me as a coach to have good students,” added Vodorezova. “There aren’t so many truly talented kids around. Inna Germanovna created a very promising group of kids who were born in 1996. Most of them now train with Alexei Tchevertukhin, but I kept Adelina in my group because she is determined, easy to work with, and a quick learner.”
“She is also independent,” continued Vodorezova. “I have a lot of students and sometimes I don’t have time to greet her when she comes to practices. If she sees that I’m busy, she does not distract me and just starts working on her own or with Irina Tagaev on choreography or with any other coach in the group. There is no need to push her, which of course is good, because at her age pushing someone is not the best idea. But she just does not need it at all. It’s good to have a girl among so many boys. She also very serious about her schoolwork.”
Katarina Gerboldt finished third in the long program and overall with a passionate performance to Carmen in which she landed three clean triples and two triple Lutzes (which received warning for use of the wrong take off edge). Compared to her younger rivals, Gerboldt displayed more ice coverage and better speed across the ice, however her spins were relatively poor and the spiral sequence was slow. She earned 99.18 points for the long program and 149.31 points in total.
Gerboldt told the press that she took up skating as she was often sick as a young child. “My parents were told to send me to figure skating classes so improve my health. I had two other coaches before joining Alexei Mikhailovich’s camp at the age of 11. Then I had to re-learn everything from the scratch. They are both excellent coaches and they taught me a lot and supported me even in my worst seasons when someone else would have probably given up.”
Polina Shelepen moved up from ninth to sixth place overall (142.34 points) after finishing fourth in the long program (97.53 points). Though she fell on an underrotated triple Lutz and underrotated the flip (in combination with a double toe loop) in the second half of the program, her lyrical routine otherwise featured five clean triple jumps. Her spins and spiral sequence were also strong, with pleasant and effortlessly achieved positions.
Nina Petushkova, last year’s silver medalist, failed to make the podium this time. The student of Zhanna Gromova opened her program with a solid double Axel-triple toe loop-double toe loop and a triple Lutz-double toe loop combinations, but later fell on an underrotated attempt of a second triple Lutz. She also had a minor stumble on her circular step sequence and the overall presentation of her program was quite weak. She gained 93.24 points for her long program, and with 145.18 points total, finished fourth overall.
Aljona Leonova, who was third coming into long program, had a disappointing outing after landing only four triple jumps. She finished finished sixth in the long program and fifth overall (143.49 points).
Arina Martinova and Alexandra Ievleva were not able to recover from their poor showings in the short program, and placed seventh and 11th overall, respectively.