Rostelecom Cup 2012: Discoveries, surprises and Superman
January 17, 2013
By Maria Bagdasarova
Photos © 2012 Absolute Skating by Vera Alexandrova, Ia Remmel
If you ask a Moscovite when it's the best time to visit Moscow, it is very unlikely one would name November. It's usually the time of year when the city is colored in grey; but if you ask a figure skating fan, you will probably get the last month of Autumn in reply. In early November, for the sixth time in a row, the Megasport arena welcomed top-level skaters from all over the world for the fourth event of the ISU Grand Prix series – the Rostelecom Cup.
Gracie Gold of the United States was one of the discoveries of the Rostelecom Cup. She was first to take the ice in the ladies' competition, which was only her fourth international event. However, she managed to remain well-composed and skated a very crisp and elegant short program to Hernando's Hideaway. The bar was set so high, that Gracie's score remained unbeaten that night. In the free skate, Gracie was not as precise, but did just enough to get silver, her first senior medal.
Multiple European medalist, Kiira Korpi of Finland, was closest to gold in the short program. Doubling the toe loop in her opening combination kept her from edging out the young American. Kiira came into the event with a bronze from Cup of China, which meant that with a win in Moscow she would secure her place in the Grand Prix Final. During the six-minute warm-up before the free skate, it seemed that the exhaustion from competing two weeks in a row that Kiira mentioned the day before at the press conference, started to overwhelm her. Hardly any jump she went for worked and she looked very nervous. Once she began her free skate, all the tension faded. Kiira fought for each element and was clearly determined to clinch a ticket to Sochi. She landed the most important elements in her program, including a triple-triple combination that she missed in the short program, and a Lutz that she kept popping during the warm-up. With such a performance Kiira could celebrate the second Grand Prix win of her career and qualified for the Grand Prix Final.
The bronze medal went to Agnes Zawadzki, who delivered two technically solid programs and thus received the first international medal of her senior career.
For the Russian ladies, Alena Leonova and Adelina Sotnikova (below), the Rostelecom Cup turned out to be a disastrous competition. In the short program, both ladies opened their performances with textbook triple-triple combinations, but could not maintain their focus afterwards. Sotnikova singled a flip, while a planned axel came up as a simple waltz jump for Leonova. Unfortunately, in the free skate, the ladies could not come back as the pressure of the overnight mishaps and skating in front of their home crowd seemed to be too high for both Alena and Adelina.
The men's competition at the Rostelecom Cup was strong, but not rich in clean performances. One of which was produced by Konstantin Menshov in the short program. He nailed every planned element including a quadruple toe loop – triple toe loop combination and finished second after the two-time World Champion, Patrick Chan. Konstantin skated in the first group and despite the fact that his program was clearly the best short performance of his career at a Grand Prix event, he set off for the hotel right after his skate. He was taken by surprise when he learned that he had to return to the rink to speak to the journalists at the press conference. In the free skate, Konstantin was unfortunately not as impeccable and slipped to 4th place overall, missing his first Grand Prix medal by less than a point.
Konstantin was edged out by Michal Brezina of the Czech Republic. After the short program, Michal sat only in 6th place, but came back strong in the free. He hit all his jumps cleanly except for the quads. Michal turned up at the press conference in a Superman T-shirt and when asked whether he sees an inner Superman in himself, he said that he felt like one after being able to climb to the podium after ashaky short program.
Takahiko Kozuka of Japan was surely not in form to show the level of skating he produced at the Megasport arena back in May 2011 when he won a silver medal at the World Championships. At the Rostelecom Cup, Takahiko had troubles with the quads in both of his performances and automatically closed the door to challenge Patrick Chan for the gold medal. Otherwise, his programs were solid and intricate, which in combination with his soft skating skills was enough for the judges to place him 2nd overall.
Patrick Chan took a comfortable lead of more than eight points in the short program. The mistake in the opening combination where he added only a single toe loop to the quadruple did not allow him to beat Menshov's technical element score, but Patrick was surely in a league of his own as far as program components were concerned. In the free skate to La Boheme by Giacomo Puccini, he landed two soaring quad toe loops including one in a combination with a triple and it became obvious that the margin against his competitors would grow. It reached 32 points which, was a nice recovery for Patrick who lost his home Grand Prix in Canada two weeks prior to the event in Moscow.
Just like Patrick Chan in the men's competition, Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir (below) did not face any serious challenge for the gold medal. In the short dance, Tessa and Scott used The Waltz Goes On by Anthony Hopkins. It was an elegant routine, which nicely continued their classical style from previous years. It suits Tessa and Scott very well.
For the free program this season, the Olympic Champions ventured a risk. They skated to Carmen Suite by Rodion Shchedrin, which is a theme outside their comfort zone. The routine featured elements of modern dance and showcased a different – dramatic and passionate – side of Tessa and Scott. In Moscow, the two time World Champions produced a more polished skate compared to their performance at Skate Canada and proved that the risk was worth taking.
The silver went to Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov (above) of Russia, who also approached their music choices very creatively this season. For the short dance, Elena and Nikita together with their coach and choreographer Nikolai Morosov, picked Andijan Polka. This piece of music refers to an area in Uzbekistan and was composed especially for the team that wanted to do something out of the box for this year's short dance rhythms. In the free dance, Elena and Nikita skate to music from the Broadway musical “Ghost”, which features dialogues between heroes from the show.
Victoria Sinitsina and Ruslan Zhiganshin surprisingly took the bronze. The promising team from Russia competed in their first senior season, delivered two clean performances to the Tennessee Waltz by Eva Cassidy and Tango by Sergio Cammariere and won their first international senior medal, overtaking Maia and Alex Shibutani (above). The 2011 World bronze medalists from the USA had a very rough competition, losing levels on the elements in the short dance and an interruption in the free skate due to Alex' injury.
The pairs event was probably the most predictable competition of the Rostelecom Cup. Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov took the gold as expected. The two time World silver medalists skated a clean short program to a jazzy version of “The Godfather” by Nino Rota, posting a personal best score. However, in the free program to the music of J.S.Bach and T.Vitali, the team could not avoid mistakes on jumps and throws.
Silver went to Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov for whom the Grand Prix event in Moscow was the first competition of the season. The team was not technically impeccable in either of the competition segments, but stood out with an elegancy of their pairs elements. Vera and Yuri like many others this season, tried a different, this time powerful, style this year with their free skate to the music from “Spartacus” ballet by A.Khatchaturian.
Caydee Denney and John Coughlin finished in the bronze medal position. This team competed in their second season together and with the progress they've already made, they may soon grow into a serious threat for the top teams.