by Klaus Reinhold-Kany
(29 November 2021) The level of the men’s competition at the Rostelecom Cup, as the Cup of Russia is officially named, was relatively low, nobody was outstanding. Superstar Yuzuru Hanyu had withdrawn because of a leg injury, as he did from the NHK Trophy two weeks before. This year, the event was held in the Olympic ice rink in Sochi because the usual Moscow ice rink is being renovated.
Morisi Kvitelashvili was born in Moscow, but is parents immigrated from Georgia, therefore he competes for Georgia. He has been training in the Tutberidze school in Moscow for many years, was the surprise winner with 266.33 points after performing the second best short and the third best free program. It was the first Grand Prix gold medal for a Georgian skater ever. He opened the faultless short program to “Tout l’Universe“ by the Swiss singer Gjon’s Tears with a good combination of quad Salchow and triple toe loop, followed by a triple Axel which was a bit shaky and a very good quad toe loop. His three spins and the step sequence all had level 4 and mainly GOEs of +2 and +3. His components were around 8.3. He had 95.37 points in his short, six more than ever before internationally.
In the free program to three songs by Frank Sinatra (“Fly Me To the Moon“, “My Way“ and “I’m Gonna Live Till I Die“) he started with a clean combination of quad Salchow and double toe loop, followed by a triple Axel which was a bit shaky and a very good combination of quad toe loop and triple toe loop. Four more good triples followed, but he went down on the second quad toe loop. The three spins were good, the two step sequences very good and his components around 8.4, but nothing was outstanding. Because of his sixth place at his first Grand Prix in Canada he did not reach the Grand Prix Final. He said, “Not everything worked in my program, but I tried hard, I fought and I am happy to be on the podium, We’re going to have a complete team at the Olympic Games in Beijing, that’s also a first.”
Russia’s front-running man Mikhail Kolyada of St. Petersburg won the silver medal with 264.64 points although the student of Alexei Mishin had by far the highest components in both programs. In the short to “The Nutcracker“ by Peter Tchaikovsky, he stepped out of the quad Salchow, fell on the quad toe loop and therefore had no combination. The five other elements were excellent and had mainly GOEs of +3 and +4) including the triple Axel. His components had an average of 8.9 in both programs.
In the best free program of the competition to the soundtrack of “Schindler’s List“, Kolyada went down on the quad Salchow and almost also fell on the first quad toe loop. Everything else was outstanding, including two triple Axels and a second quad toe loop in combination with a triple toe loop, three more triples, three level-4 spins and the two step sequences. He reached the Grand Prix Final after winning two silver medals in Italy and Russia. He commented: “I guess the Final will be very interesting because I love Japan and I love skating there, the fans are amazing. The coaches and I have some new ideas for the next competitions that we will realize.“
Kazuki Tomono of Osaka in Japan won the bronze medal very close to Kolyada with 264.19 points. He had been first in the short program (95.81 points) with music to the soundtrack of “Cinema Paradiso“. His combination of quad toe loop and triple toe loop was excellent, his triple Axel as well and the quad Salchow like the spins and step sequence were good. “If I could do my best I knew I could get 95 points,“ he said. “The jumps aside from the toe loop were not that great. I had small mistakes and was not moving as well as I had liked so I was happy I got my best score.“
In the fifth best free program to the soundtrack of “La La Land“, in part a piano version, Tomono began with an excellent combination of quad toe loop and triple toe loop, but he landed the quad Salchow on two feet and in a shaky way. The second quad toe loop was very good again, two more triples as well, but he fell on the second triple Axel and stumbled on two more jumps. Spins and steps were very good. He explained: “I am very happy about the medal, but being on the podium I am still disappointed. I think it is because after the Short Program yesterday I had such a wonderful lead and I had a chance to be on the top of the podium.”
Roman Sadovsky from Canada, whose parents immigrated from the Ukraine, finished in fourth position with 253.80 points. He had been third in the short program after performing a good quad Salchow and a clean combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop, but stepped out of the triple Axel. In both programs he skated with higher speed than the other skaters. In the free, he landed the first quad Salchow on two feet. The second one in a sequence with Euler and triple Salchow was good, like six more triples.
Matteo Rizzo from Italy came fifth, earning 250.47 points. In the short program, he went down on the quad toe loop. The combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop was not clean and he stepped out of the triple Axel. But in the second best free program he moved up four spots after performing a combination of quad toe loop and triple toe loop as well as seven good triple jumps and excellent steps.
Evgeni Semenenko from Russia, eighth at the World Championships in March 2021, placed sixth with 246.66 points. He missed two jumps in the short, performed three quads in the free program, but fell twice on triples.
U.S. skater Camden Pulkinen of Colorado Springs ended seventh with 237.987 points. He skated a good short program with clean quad toe loop and triple Axel, but landed the triple toe loop after the triple Lutz on two feet. In the free, he fell on his only quad (toe loop), but seven triples got plus points. Mark Kondratiuk from Russia finished in eighth place with 231.88 points. In the short he fell on both quads and in the free he popped a quad toe loop, but landed two quad Salchows.
Keiji Tanaka from Japan placed ninth with 229.75 points after stepping out of the quad Salchow in the short and popping a triple Axel in the long although he had an excellent quad Salchow there.
Michal Brezina from the Czech Republic trains in Irvine, California and ended tenth, winning 219.59 points in spite of an excellent quad Salchow in the short. But he almost fell on the triple flip of his combination. In the free only three triples were good, but he made mistakes on four other jumps.
The second Georgian skater Nika Egadze, who also trains in the Tutberidze school, finished eleventh after a disastrous short and a good free program. He was alternate for U.S. skater Maxim Naumov who is injured.
Brendan Kerry from Australia could not train properly for a long time because of Covid 19, now trains in Moscow anyway and therefore had no quarantine problems to travel to Sochi. He was alternate for Yuzuru Hanyu and ended up twelfth with 204.19 points after making several mistakes.