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2019 Cup of Russia

Moscow, Russia

by Klaus-Reinhold Kany


(13 November) This year, the Cup of Russia in Moscow is the fifth Grand Prix. Like in most years, it is held in the relatively new Megasport Palace about 3 miles Northwest of downtown. The World Championships 2011 and the European Championships 2018 were held there as well. TV and livestream viewers recognize the arena easily because of its colorful spectators‘ seats which you do not have in any other comparable arena in the world. The official name of the competition is Rostelecom Cup, named after the largest digital and telephone provider in Russia. Many good skaters hope to place among the top in their second Grand Prix in order to qualify for the Grand Prix Final in Italy in early December.

In the ladies event, Alexandra Trusova, the 15-year-old quad queen from Russia, who is more a young princess than a queen, is the favorite exactly because of these jumps. Like at her victory at Skate Canada, she plans several quads in the free program again to secure a spot in the Final. There are three other main candidates for the medals: One of them is Evgenia Medvedeva, World Champion in 2016 and 2017, who has the better presentation than Trusova, but no quad and was only fifth at Skate Canada. Another medal candidate is Satoko Miyahara from Japan after her silver performance at the Cup of China last week. Californian Mariah Bell probably needs a better place than the third in France to qualify for the Grand Prix Final.

Stanislava Konstantinova from the host country had shown very good programs in the past, but also bad ones lately. Therefore it would be a small surprise if the wins a medal. The same is true for the other two Japanese ladies Yuna Shiraiwa who was only ninth in France, and Yuhana Yokoi who competes in her first senior Grand Prix in Moscow. One other contender for a good position is Nicole Schott from Germany. She was invited only last week as an alternate for French skater Laurine Lecavelier who still suffers from a foot injury. Another rising lady is Emmi Peltonen from Finland who came as alternate for the injured Belgian lady Loena Hendrickx.

In the men’s competition, there are four hot medal candidates: Alexander Samarin from Russia, second in Grenoble, might be slighly favorized in spite of his questionable presentation because sometimes he performs excellent quad jumps. But he has only chances to win if he is not too nervous in his home country. Nam Nguyen from Canada was second in his home country three weeks ago and hopes for two more very good performances in Russia. Dmitri Aliev from Russia, third at Skate America, had a much better start into this season than into the last one. And last but not least: The 2018 World silver medalist Shoma Uno from Japan will try to rehabilitate himself after his two really bad programs in France where he finished only eighth. He has no more chance to reach the Final, but therefore no pressure.

Other skaters with a view to a good position are Morisi Kvitelashvili from Georgia, Kazuki Tomono from Japan, Deniss Vasiljevs from Latvia, Alexander Krasnozhon of Plano in Texas and Czech skater Michael Brezina. Daniel Samohin from Israel was invited as an alternate for U.S. skater and World Bronze medalist Vincent Zhou who decided to skip this year’s Grand Prix due to his fulltime work at his university.

Two ice dance couples who won another Grand Prix in this season‘s series, have a good chance to fight for a gold medal in Moscow: The favorites are the 2019 World silver medalists Victoria Sinitsina & Nikita Katsalapov who hope for another victory in their home country after winning the Cup of China last week. The 2019 Skate Canada gold medalists Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier from Canada beat the World bronze medalists Hubbell & Donohue at Skate Canada and can hope for a top placement in Russia, but even a silver medal would guarantee them a spot at the Grand Prix Final. If everything runs normal the other eight couples can only hope for a bronze medal.

The best chances for the third place have Sara Hurtado & Kirill Khaliavin from Spain who were fifth at Skate Canada in October. Another couple with an eye to a medal are Polish champions Natalia Kaliszek & Maskym Spodyriev, sixth in Grenoble. Only outsider chances for a medal have the 2019 Junior World Champions Marjorie Lajoie & Zachary Lagha. The two other Russian couples Anastasia Skoptcova & Kirill Aleshin as well as Anastasia Shpilevaya & Grigory Smirnov cannot be counted yet to the best teams, nor Adelina Galyavieva & Louis Thauron from France. Allison Reed and Saulius Ambrulevicius from Lithuania were good in the early season. They are better than their last place in France seems to prove.

Two Russian teams have the best chances to fight for the gold medal in pair skating in their home country. Both competed at Skate Canada, and there it was a little surprise that the young Aleksandra Boikova & Dmitri Kozkovskii won and beat the experienced World silver medalists Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov who were only third. This may happen again or switch, time and their shape will show. The third Russian pair of Ksenia Stolbova & Andrei Novoselov will perform in their very first international competition together after preparing together for more than one year. But both have a lot of experience with their former partners. If they give a very good debut, they might win bronze, but others have a chance, too.

Miriam Ziegler and Severin Kiefer from Austria are one of them. They had no good early season, but in the free program in Grenoble, they could show their qualities for the first time in this season. Minerva Fabienne Hase & Nolan Seegert from Germany were not in very good shape two weeks ago in France, but they are also capable of performing good programs. Only outsiders are Audrey Lu and Misha Mitrofanov of Plano, Texas, but with strong individual jumps they might surprise.

Ladies Event

The ladies competition at the 2019 Cup of Russia ended like the four previous Grand Prix of this season with a victory of a young favorite from Russia: Like at Skate Canada, “Quad Queen“ Alexandra Trusova won the gold medal, this time with 234.47 points. In the short program the 15-year-old interpreted “Solveig‘s Song“ and “In the Hall of the Mountain King“, both from Edvard Grieg’s “Peer Gynt“. She slipped on the way to her opening position, but not in the program. No quad is allowed for ladies there. Her first element was an excellent double Axel (one GOE of +5) after promising before that she hopes to learn the triple Axel soon. Next was a stellar triple flip, and a good combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop. The three spins and the step sequence (all level 4) were very good and her components had an average of 8.5. She said: “There were still mistakes I need to fix. In practice this morning I was still doing Lutz-loop, but afterwards I was told to do better Lutz-toe today.”

Skating to the soundtrack of “Game of Thrones“, she opened her free program with an under-rotated quad Salchow, but went down. But then she landed a good quad Lutz (14.95 points), a good combination of quad toe loop and triple toe loop (15.33 points) and in the second half a sequence of quad toe loop, Euler and triple Salchow 18.17 points). With these three elements plus an excellent triple Lutz she collected so many points that she won easily even if she fell again on her third combination, a triple loop after the second triple Lutz.  Her components were around 8.4. She stated: “I am very happy to have won my second Grand Prix event and to have qualified for the Grand Prix Final. However, I made some mistakes in the short and free program and I’ll continue to work to skate two clean programs next time. I would like to compete with the men because they can do a quad in the short program and we are not allowed to. Also, it would be interesting to compete with skaters that do many quads in the programs.”

2016 and 2017 World Champion Evgenia Medvedeva from Russia, who trains with Brian Orser in Toronto in her second season, won silver with 225.76 points in her best competition in two years and since she moved to Toronto. She had taken the lead in the short program to “Exogenesis Symphony Part 3“ by the British group Muse with a distance of 2.62 points to Trusova with seven excellent elements: a combination of triple flip and triple toe loop, a triple Lutz, a double Axel, a triple loop and an outstanding step sequence which got five GOEs of +5. Her components were around 9.2, much higher than Trusova‘s because she revealed a lot of fire, emotions and linking steps. “I am happy with my skate“, Medvedeva commented, “because it finally worked out the way it should. I hope that everyone has seen my work and Brian (Orser) is happy. It was the right decision (to return to the triple loop). I’ve done that before and every time I did it, my points went up.”

Her free program to the soundtrack of “Memoirs of a Geisha“ was outstanding again, especially component-wise. She interpreted this music and her role with a lot of emotions and mimikry and had excellent steps. Six triple jumps were excellent, only the Lutz had an edge call, and she certainly had no triple Axel and nor a quad. Later she remarked: “I am very satisfied with what I did today and yesterday, finally I did what I should do. It is in my plans to learn a quad, I am working on the quad Salchow, but at the same time I need to make sure I stay healthy. I’ll do everything I can for it and I hope to put it out there as soon as possible.”

Mariah Bell of Irvine, California, won her second bronze medal after the French Grand Prix, this time with 205.67 points. She opened her short to the two Britney Spear songs “Radar” and “Work B**ch” with a very good double Axel, but went down on the triple toe loop after the triple flip. She added a good triple Lutz, an excellent Change Foot Combination Spin, two other very good spins and a dynamic step sequence (level 3). She explained: “I’m overall a little disappointed in my performance today. Regardless of where I place or how many points I get, I always feel best if I go out and skate the best I can and that didn’t happen today.”

Her free program to “Hallelujah“ by Leonard Cohen and performed by K.D. Lang was without fall. She had four very good triples, but the toe loop after the flip was a bit shaky and the two Lutzes got a small warning because they were not landed completely correctly. She skated with visible fun, her jumps looked easy and her components had an average of 8.7. “I’m pleased with my performance today“, she explained. “There are some little errors, but I can go back and work on those for whatever is next. I think I just now start to be consistent. I don’t have limits and I don’t think why I couldn’t learn a quad or triple Axel. We do work on some Axel exercises and I have tried a few triple Axels. Ladies skating is really moving forward. It’s super cool to be included in that.“ It is not probable that she reaches the Grand Prix Final, but to be sure she has to wait for the result of the NHK Trophy.

Satoko Miyahara from Japan finished on fourth position with 192.42 points after being second in France. In her short program, she doubled the Lutz and did not add any second jump (no points). Later she performed a very good double Axel and a combination of triple loop and double toe loop, which was a bit small. Her spins and steps were excellent, and her extraordinary elegance helped her to gain components of 8.6 which were a bit too low. In the free, she moved up two spots although no less than five of her seven triple jumps were under-rotated. Performing to "Hativka“, a mixture of the soundtrack of “Schindler’s List“ and Rachmaninov’s famous prelude in C-sharp minor, she glided in such an elegant style that she gained components with an average of 8.8. In order to jump higher, to avoid under-rotations and improve her technical repertoire, Miyahara trained with Lee Barkell in Toronto because he coached Gabby Daleman who is known for her high jumps. She has worked on the triple Axel, but it was not consistent enough to include it in competition.

Ekaterina Ryabova from Azerbaijan takes fifth place with 187.77 points. In the short, she got a small edge warning on the triple Lutz (combined with the triple toe loop). Double Axel and triple flip were good. In the free, five triple jumps were convincing, but the two Lutzes got an edge call and a small warning again. She dropped behind Miyahara because her components were only 7.4. Yuhana Yokoi from Japan won 182.68 points, finishing sixth. She went down on the triple flip in the short and got a small warning for the triple Lutz, but the rest was good. In the free program, six triple jumps were more or less good, but she fell on the triple loop.

Alexia Paganini from Switzerland who trains in Hackensack, New Jersey, finished on seventh place with 179.69 points. She made herself a nice present because on her 18th birthday, she skated a clean short program which included a combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop. But in the free she dropped from fourth to seventh position because in spite of another good combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop plus a second triple Lutz. But she almost fell on the triple Salchow and later popped the Axel. Two more triples were good. Hongyi Chen from China is on eighth place with 175.77 points. Her short program combination of two triple toe loops was a bit shaky and she stepped out of the triple Lutz. In the free, three triples were good and her layback spin excellent, but four others were technically not clean.

Nicole Schott from Germany, alternate for Laurine Lecavelier from France, finished on ninth position, winning 172.08 points. In the short program, she almost fell on the second toe loop of her combination. Her double Axel was good, the triple loop under-rotated. In her free, she collected points especially with two triple flips (one was under-rotated), two triple loops, one triple Salchow and a good style. Yura Shiraiwa from Japan sits on tenth position with 170.03 points. In the short she stepped out of the triple Lutz, everything else was good. In the free, five jumps were under-rotated and only three clean.

Stanislava Konstantinova from Russia is 11th with 156.94 points. In the short she fell on the triple Lutz, in the free program she made mistakes on five jumps. Emmi Peltonen from Finland, alternate for Loena Hendrickx from Belgium, ended up on 12th place with 152.50 points after popping four jumps.   

Men's Event

The men‘s competition at the 2019 Cup of Russia had a much better level than at the other Grand Prix, there were considerably less mistakes. Three men in the short program skated to very similar versions of the music “Blues for Klook“ by Eddy Louiss.

There was an unexpected Russian sweep, the first one in ten years. Alexander Samarin of Moscow had taken the lead in the short program with 92.81 points and won the event with 264.45 points. Skating to this Blues in the short, he opened with an outstanding combination of quad Lutz and triple toe loop which had four GOEs of + 5, four of +4 and one of +3. This element was rewarded with 20.79 points. But then he fell on the quad flip and landed the triple Axel on two feet. The three spins were very good, the step sequence good. His components had an average of 8.5 which is too high because he does not interpret much and has hardly any interesting steps between his elements. He commented: “First of all I want to thank the crowd for their support, I really enjoyed skating here. There were mistakes in the short program, and the competition is not over yet.”

Samarin remained in first place, skating in the free to the music “Good News” by Apashe. His first element again was a huge combination of quadruple Lutz and triple toe loop, followed by six more or less good triple jumps including two Axels and he had a level 4 for his three very good spins. He explained: “Even though it was not my best performance, I am overwhelmed with emotions. There were mistakes, big mistakes and we’ll work on it. But I’m glad to have qualified for the Grand Prix Final.”

Dmitri Aliev from St. Petersburg won the silver medal with 259.88 overall points. In the short, he performed to the French song “Je dors sur des roses“ (I Sleep on Roses) from the “Mozart Rock Opera“ by Mikelangelo Loconte. He began with an excellent combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop because the planned quad Lutz had not worked in practice. Next was a good quad toe loop, followed by a not so perfect triple Axel. His components were also around 8.5, but his style is softer and more elegant. “There were some errors“, he said. “The Lutz in the combination should have been a quad. Overall I’m pleased, but I would have liked to open up more in the step sequence and to make the program brighter. The choreographers gave me this music and I watched the opera on Youtube and I really liked how they played on stage and I wanted to bring that onto the ice.”

His free program to “Sound of Silence” by the US metal band “Disturbed“ began with an excellent triple Lutz, followed by a triple toe loop, both of which were planned quadruple. Then he added a combination of quadruple toe loop and triple toe loop, a solo quad toe loop and six more triple jumps. Like sometimes in the past he had one jump too many. A triple Lutz was the third repetition of a jump, which is not allowed. “I am pleased that I was able to show the character and save the program because the first half did not go as planned.“ With a third place at Skate America and a second in Russia he has to wait for the result of the NHK Trophy next week to see if he is qualified for the Final.

The bronze medal for the third Russian skater Makar Ignatov from St. Petersburg is a surprise because this was his very first Grand Prix although he is already 19 years old and had never been outstanding. In 2017, his only Junior Grand Prix season, he reached the Junior Final, but in the 2018/19 season he was mainly injured. At the test skate this summer, however, his jumps were consistent, therefore the federation nominated him for the Cup of Russia. He got a last minute entry to the Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany, which he surprisingly won. In Moscow with starting number 1, he opened his short program to “In This Shirt“ by “The Irrepressibles“ with a very good combination of quad Salchow and triple toe loop plus a good quad toe loop. His spins were good, but he stepped out a bit on the triple Axel. His components were around 7.3. At the first press conference in his life he said: “I did not expect to be in the top three. I was just happy that I showed everything that I can do, all the elements. The rest does not depend on me.”

In the free program to “Remember“ from the soundtrack of “Troy“ he performed one quad Salchow and one quad toe loop plus seven triple jumps, everything in good quality, but not excellent, and only popped a Salchow. He said: “There was an incredible support that gave me strength when I had no strength left. I am very happy that three Russian men are on the podium and I didn’t expect that to happen.”

Shoma Uno skated better than in France and placed fourth, earning 252.24 points. After this bad competition without any coach he and his federation asked Swiss coach and former World Champion Stéphane Stephane Lambiel if he can stay in his rink in Switzerland for ten days and work with him, although Uno does not speak very good English. Lambiel had offered to work with him already at the Japan Open competition in early October. Now Uno twittered: “I feel comfortable to work with Stephane“, but no decision seems to have been taken if Lambiel becomes his permanent coach. Lambiel coaches two other Japanese skaters. In the short, Uno fell on the quad flip, but managed to land a good combination of quad toe loop and double toe loop as well as a very good triple Axel and excellent steps. His components were around 8.7. In the free, five triples and a quad toe loop were excellent, but he fell on the quad Salchow and could not begin to jump at the first quad toe loop because he stumbed just before. He later fell on the second quad toe loop and tried again a quad toe loop at the end of his program, but fell. Nevertheless he showed fighting spirit and when he came from the ice he smiled and Stephane Lambiel said to him: "Good fight, good try.“

Nam Nguyen from Canada finished on fifth position, earning 246.20 points after being sixth in both parts of the competition. He opened his dynamic short program (like the free program) with a very good combination of quad Salchow and triple toe loop, followed by an almost clean triple Axel. His triple flip was good, two spins as well (level 4), but the Flying Sit Spin a bit wobbly. His components were around 8.1. In the free program, he doubled the second Salchow after his opening combination, but added six good triples, among them two Axel.

Deniss Vasiljevs from Latvia is on sixth place with 241.09 points. In his short, he had three very good triple jumps, but a triple Lutz without flow after the landing. In the free, he went down on the first triple Axel and under-rotated the second one. Six triple jumps and his style were very good. Morisi Kvitelashvili from Georgia, who trains in the Tutberidze school, is seventh, winning 237.59 points. Quad Salchow and triple Axel in the short were good, but he doubled the toe loop. In the free, two quads and six doubles were good, but his presentation is always a bit weak. Kazuki Tomono from Japan finished on eighth place with 237.54 points. In the short, he fell on the quad toe loop. The triple toe loop in his combination with the quad Salchow was under-rotated. In the free, a quad toe loop and five triple jumps were very good. But two other jumps only double. Michal Brezina from the Czech Republic is ninth with 236.47 points. He had problems with the quad Salchow in both programs and stepped out of the Axel in the short and had five good triple jumps in the free, but doubled three others.

Alexei Krasnozhon of Plano, Texas, placed tenth, earning 216.28 points. He is still waiting for a U.S. passport and therefore asked the ISU to get Grand Prix only in the USA or his former home country of Russia. This wish was fulfilled. In the short, he went down on the under-rotated quad flip, but the three triples were clean. In the free, his quad flip was landed but still under-rotated. Six triples were good, but he fell on the second triple Axel. His components were around 7.1 because his style is not the best.

Vladimit Litvintsev from Azerbaijan ended up 11th with 209.07 points. In the short, he fell on the quad Salchow and on the quad toe loop. Moroever, he singled the Axel. In the free, he landed two good quad toe loops and five triple jumps. Daniel Samohin from Israel, who trains in San Diego, California, went down on the triple Axel and on the quad Salchow in the short program and performed there a combination of double Lutz and double toe loop which got no points. He finished eleventh in the short program with 56.94 points, but withdrew before the free program due to a foot injury which got worse.

Pairs Event

Aleksandra Boikova & Dmitrii Kozlovskii from Russia, only 17 and 19 years old and first at Skate Canada, also won their second Grand Prix of this season, this time with 229.48 points, 13 more than in Canada. The pairs shooting stars are coached by 30-year-old Artur Minchuk in St. Petersburg, who was a junior pair skater from 2006 to 2011, then performed in the "Russian Ice Stars“ shows before becoming a coach. Sometimes the pair is assisted by legendary coach Tamara Moskvina who still works part-time at the age of 78. During the six minute warm-up for the short program, Kozlovskii fell hard and bumped against the boards with his back. But this did not affect their short program to a non-vocal violin version of Frank Sinatra‘s evergreen “My way“, performed by violonist André Rieu. They began with an outstanding side by side triple Salchow which had one GOE of +5 and two of +4. Their triple twist was excellent as well and their huge triple throw Lutz had even four GOEs of +5. All five level elements had a level 4, including the Reverse Lasso Lift, and all were at least very good. Their components reached around 8.7, with 9.5 as highest ones. For the first time in their career, they had more than 80 points, exactly 80.14.  

He said: “It was a long day, the practice was early and there was a long break. We’re happy how everything went, but it would not be right to say anything specific about today, because tomorrow will be the main day.” Asked about his fall, he added: “This happens, the ice is slippery. Obviously, it was unexpected and an unfortunate fall. However, there is no reason to make a hero out of me. I just could not let down my partner and my coaches. Therefore, after that I just went out and skated as if nothing had happened.”

They opened their free program to a James Bond theme with another excellent triple Salchow and a good combination of one triple toe loop and two double toe loops. Twist and two lifts were outstanding, the two triple throws as well. The triple throw loop even had four GOEs of +5 and five GOEs of +4. Their components were around 9.1. Later Kozkovskii commented: “We are very glad to get to our first senior-level Grand Prix Final. We had tough competitors in our events, but we did not set the task to beat someone. In the training process, we’re just competing with ourselves and in competition, the judges give the scores and we cannot influence that. The only thing that depends on us it to skate clean programs.”

The 2019 World silver medalists Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov, who train with Marina Zueva in Florida, won the silver medal with 216.77 points, using Ravel’s famous “Bolero“ as their music. Their triple twist was as outstanding as usual (six GOEs of +5), the triple toe loop very good, the triple throw loop as well. The spin was a bit shaky and during the step sequence Morozov stumbled a bit, but lift and death spiral were very good. Their components were around 8.9, with some 9.5 as highest. “Overall we did all our elements, but obviously there were some errors in the end that affected the impression of our program,“ Morozov said.

Competing to “Ti Amo“ (I love you) by Italian singer Umberto Tozzi, they started their free program with the usual huge and elegantly landed triple twist, then Morozov doubled the Salchow (which Tarasova tripled and stepped out). In their toe loop combination Tarasova’s jumps were wobbly. The lifts and throws were excellent, the triple throw Salchow even got four GOEs of +5. Morozov explained: “Today was not bad. Obviously, there is room for improvement, but we have our goals and our plan that we follow. We are not upset and we see that there is progress”

Minerva Fabienne Hase & Nolan Seegert from Germany, 13th at the World Championships seven month ago, earned the bronze medal, winning 186.16 points after skating much better than in Grenoble two weeks before. This was their first Grand Prix medal ever. Skating to “Open Hands“ by Ingrid Michaelson, they opened their flawless short program with a good triple twist, followed by a clean side by side triple toe loop. The triple throw Salchow was excellent, the other elements clean. In their free program to “House of the Rising Sun“, which they kept from last season, their triple twist was good, the toe loop combination very good, but Hase fell on the triple Salchow. The lifts were good, their triple throw Salchow impressive, but Hase landed the throw triple loop on two feet. Seegert commented: “We’re very happy with this result obviously and we want to keep building on that. This is our biggest moment so far in our career. Coming here, we did not expect this result”

Miriam Ziegler & Severin Kiefer from Austria sit fourth with 182.02 points. In their short program to “In Your Hands“ by Charlie Winston, they began with the triple twist which Ziegler did not land completely correct in the hands of his partner. The triple Salchow was clean, but the triple throw Lutz landed on two feet. The step sequence was their best element. With the third best free skate, they could move up two spots from six to four. Their twist was not clean again and her combination of one triple and two double toe loops was a bit wobbly. The side by side triple Salchow was their best element, together with the triple throw Salchow. Two lifts were good, but the last one a bit shaky.

The Cup of Russia was the first international competition for Ksenia Stolbova, in 2014 Olympic silver medalist with Fedor Klimov, and her new partner Andrei Novoselov who is Russian, but had competed for France until 2017. They had trained for more than one year without competition with their main coach Nikolai Morozov, but in Moscow, they finished only fifth with 177.51 points. In the short program to “Rebirth“ by Hi-Finesse (featuring Natasha Atlas), their twist was clean, though not special. Novoselov doubled the toe loop which Stolbova tripled. The triple throw Lutz was excellent, the step sequence as well, the other elements good and their components around 8.2. This was enough for the third overnight position. Stolbova commented: “First of all we’re very happy that we finally are competing and to be here at the home event. As for the performance, there were positive and negatives sides to it. There is something to work on, but overall we’re pleased.“

In the free program to a modern version of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, performed by "Hidden Citizens“, they dropped behind the Germans and Austrians. Their triple twist was clean with level 3, then Novoselov stumbled on the side by side triple toe loop and could not add a second jump. He touched down on the side by side triple Salchow. The first lift was excellent, the triple throw Lutz and the choreo step sequence as well. Then Stolbova went down on the triple throw Salchow. Novoselov had to finish the second lift abruptly and he aborted the third lift. Too many mistakes especially from him to remain in a medal position.

Evelyn Walsh & Trennt Michaud from Canada placed sixth with 168.96 points. Their main coach is Alison Purkiss in Brantford, Ontario, but once per week they go to the new school of Bruno Marcotte in Oakville. They were 12th at the World Championships 2019. In the short program, they made no big mistake, only the triple twist and the spin were not totally clean. But the lift was excellent and the other elements good. In the free program, Walsh stepped out of the triple toe loop and could not add any second jump, Michaud fell on the triple Salchow and Walsh went down on the triple throw toe loop. The other eight free skating elements were successful.

Rebecca Ghilardi & Filippo Ambrosini from Italy came on seventh position, earning 162.76 points. In the short, Ambrosini did not catch his partner correctly and Ghilardi went down on the triple Salchow, the other elements were more or less clean. In the free, they had the same problem on the twist and Ambrosini stepped out of a single Axel, which she doubled and added a double toe loop. Most other elements were O.K.

Audrey Lu & Misha Mitrofanov ended up on eighth and last place, collecting 153.61 points. They and their coach Andrei Letov are currently based in Plano, Texas, but may go somewhere else in the near future. They compete in their second season together.

In the short program to the James Bond soundtrack of “Skyfall“, their triple twist was clean, but Lu under-rotated the side by side triple Salchow and fell on the triple throw loop. The other elements were O.K. In the free, Lu went down again on the triple throw loop and under-rotated the second triple Salchow in a sequence with triple Salchow, Euler and another triple Salchow, which only very few pairs can perform. Although the jumps are their strength, which is unusual for U.S. pairs, their triple toe loop was not clean either. All three lifts got small deductions.

Ice Dance Event

The home country of Russia was by far the most successful federation at the Cup of Russia 2019. Skaters from Russia won all four gold medals and eight of the 12 total medals.

In the ice dance competition it was no surprise that Victoria Sinitsina & Nikita Katsalapov, silver medalists at Worlds seven months ago, took the gold at the 2019 Cup of Russia, this time with 212.15 points, after winning the Cup of China the week before. The students of Alexander Zhulin have competed together since 2014, when they split from their former partners. Katsalapov had won an Olympic bronze medal in Sochi 2014 with his former partner Elena Ilinykh, but after Worlds the couple split. This time, they were already in the lead in the Rhythm Dance to the 1952 film musical “Singin‘ in the Rain“ with the main song from 1927 which had been sung by Gene Kelly. Sinitsina and Katsalapov performed five excellent elements in a fast and entertaining number, with the Rotational Lift as outstanding highlight with four GOEs of +5 and five of +4. Lift and twizzles had a level 4, the three step sequences a level 3. Their components had an average of 9.5, with three 10.0 for composition. Katsalapov commented: “The support of the home crowd was incredible, you don’t feel any tiredness but you just have fun out on the ice. We are overall pleased with our performance, but this is not the very best that we could do, we’re not even halfway through the season. We’ll continue to work, but now we’ll take a deep breath and get ready for the free dance.”

In the dynamic free dance to “I Giorni“ (The Days) by Ludovico Einaudi and to “Songs My Mother Taught Me“ by Antonin Dvorak, they could present all their strong points, the elegance as well as the technical skills. Four of the seven level elements had a level 4, three a level 3. GOEs of +4 dominated, and five of the ten elements had at least one GOE of +5. The components were around 9.5, with three 10.0 for composition or for interpretation from three different judges. “We’re glad to have overcome the challenge of doing two Grand Prix back to back and we were able to get better scores here at our second event in both Rhythm Dance and free dance,” Katsalapov said in happy mood. “Now we’ll have a little rest and then we’ll get ready for the Grand Prix Final and hope to show our very best there.”

Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier from the school of Carol Lane in Scarborough near Toronto won the silver medal with 207.64 points. They had been first at Skate Canada and therefore are also qualified for the Grand Prix Final. In Moscow the Canadians danced to March, Foxtrot and Quickstep from the almost forgotten Hollywood musical "Mack and Mabel“ by Jerry Herman. The twizzles and the lift were excellent (both level 4), the three step sequences very good as well (levels 3, 2 and 3). Their components were around 9.3. Poirier said: “Piper and I were quite pleased with our performance. There were a few sticky moments here and there as we went through the performance. We spent a lot of time after Skate Canada trying to focus on the speed of the program, just getting all the movements really big and taking up more space and I think that’s been really effective. We felt like character of the program really projected out from us.”

In their free dance they use the lyrical song “Both Sides Now” by Canadian singer Joni Mitchell. They glided, almost flew over the ice with a lot of smooth steps and other elements. GOEs of +3 and +4 dominated for all ten of them, and there were a few +5. Their components were around 9.4. Poirier explained: “It’s been five years since we last competed at the Grand Prix Final. In those five years we’ve had a lot of ups and downs in our career. We faced a lot of challenges. And I think in that time we also had a lot of doubts whether we’d be able to make it back on that stage and really be contenders on the international stage, vying for a medal at the World Championships. I think these results just really encourage us.”

Sara Hurtado & Kirill Khaliavin from Spain, like Sinitsina & Katsalapov students of Alexander Zhulin in Moscow, claimed the bronze medal, earning 185.01 points, which is a big distance to the two best couples. They interpreted a Foxtrot and a Quickstep from the musical “Hello Dolly“ by Jerry Herman which were sung by Barbara Streisand and Frank Sinatra. Their Finnstep sequence had only a level 1 and the partial sequence level 1 for her and 2 for him and they had a separation, the other levels were 3 and 4. Their components were around 8.3. “It was a lot of fun for us to skate in Moscow, it now feels like a second home to us,” Hurtado explained. “In our program, we felt that the work we’ve put in since Skate Canada is starting to show. We still have to fix some little things in the technical aspect of the program, but it feels like a good starting point for the next competitions.”

For their free dance, they were drawn to skate last and used the Flamenco-themed music pieces “Orobroy” by David Pena Dorantes and “Puerto del Sol” by Manolo Carrasco. Their levels were excellent: five times level 4 and two level 3. GOEs of +3 dominated and the components had an average of 8.4. Hurtado commented: ”It was a great experience for us to close the competition after such a high level of skating. We want to bring our programs to the point that it deserves and we feel we’re on the right way. We hope that everyone enjoyed our little Spanish presentation here.”

Natalia Kaliszek & Maksym Spodyriev from Poland finished on fourth position with 178.70 points. After excellent twizzles, a very good lift (both with level 4) and a good Midline Step Sequence (level 3) in the Rhythm Dance to “Kinky Boots“, they missed some beats in the Finnstep sequence after stumbling a bit and got deductions. In the free dance to a medley of “Dirty Dancing“, they performed with a lot of freshness and showed good elements. Spodyriev tried to look like Patrick Swayze.

Allison Reed & Saulius Ambrulevicius from Lithuania were much better than in France, which could be expected, and landed in fifth place with 175.43 points. The students of Rostislav Sinicyn, who mainly train in Oberstdorf, Germany, skated to “Bandstand“ in the Rhythm Dance with good levels and GOEs of mainly +2. In the free dance to three pieces of Norwegian singer Aurora, they again made no mistake, but danced with good flow, good levels and GOEs of mainly +2.

Anastasia Shpilevaya & Grigory Smirnov from the Russian school of Alexander Svinin are sixth with 172.93 points. They used the well-known music of “Grease“ for their Rhythm Dance and had mixed levels, but good flow. In their free dance to the soundtrack of the British film “The Love Punch“ from 2013, they had very good levels and GOEs of mainly +2. They were three tenth points ahead of the Lithuanian couple in the free dance, but remained in sixth place after getting 2.75 points less in the Rhythm Dance.

Marjorie Lavoie & Zachary Lagha, the reigning Junior World Champions from Canada, train in the “Ice Academy of Montreal“ (IAM) together with 21 other dance couples. They, placed seventh, earning 169.90 points. In the Rhythm Dance, four elements were good and had mainly GOEs of +2, but during the Finnstep Sequence they stumbled a bit and did not dance to the beat for a few seconds and therefore had a deduction. In their free dance to Freddy Mercury’s “Bohemian Rhapsody“, the lifts were excellent, but their components lower. Russian dancer Adelina Galiavieva & French dancer Louis Thauron, who skate for France, are eighth with 164.79 points. In the Rhythm Dance they used music from the pop group Boney M, in the free dance from Carmen. In their Rhythm Dance, they did not hit any of the four key points in the Finnstep. But the other elements were good. In their free dance, they had very good levels and GOEs of mainly +1 and +2.

The third Russian couple of Anastasia Skoptcova & Kirill Aleshin (pronounce Alioshin) finished on ninth place, earning 164.64 points. Their levels in the Rhythm Dance (to “Bonnie & Clyde“) were mixed. In the free dance to the soundtrack of “Fifty Shades Freed“ several elements were a bit sloppy, therefore they dropped from seventh to nine place. Jasmine Tessari & Francesco Fioretti from Italy came as alternates for the Finnsh couple of Juulia Turkkila & Matthias Versluis who still recover from Turkkila’s concussion at the Lombardia Trophy in September. The Italians ended up tenth with 154.44 points. They had no big mistakes, neither in the Rhythm Dance to “Singin‘ in the Rain“ nor in the free dance to a medley of songs by Beth Hart, but GOEs of mainly 0 and +1.