Friday, January 11, 2013

A Few Thoughts on Russian Nationals

The Russian Figure Skating Championships for Seniors were held about 2 weeks ago in Sochi, and the Ladies competition provided some interesting results.

Side Note: In Russia, the Senior Nationals and the Junior Nationals are held separately, but Juniors (i.e. anyone not old enough for senior competition, since there are some who compete at senior nationals who aren't even old enough for junior international competition) are allowed to compete in both. The Junior championships will be held between January 31st and February 3rd in Saransk. Look for a Lipnitskaya/Radionova showdown.

Anyways, the Seniors ladies had several nobody's at the top, and several veterans buried in the standings.

Elizaveta Tuktamysheva somewhat unexpectedly won her first national title, after winning the SP and LP with absurdly high PCS. Heads up Liza-camp: you're not going to get in the 30s for the SP and the high 60s for the LP for PCS at Euros and Worlds. Her flailing arms are reminiscent of Slutskaya and Plushenko, and something that won't get fixed in order for her to win the Olympic gold if she continues with Mishin after this season. Half of her Dark Eyes music is what Nastia used in her 2006-2008 routine, a routine that also brings back memories of flailing arms, and just lots of bad memories. Her attempts to be dramatic just completely fail, and she can't bring out the drama and nuances in the music. If you can't do Dark Eyes like Sasha Cohen, don't do it at all.
 Kudos to her, though, for skating through what was reported to be a pretty bad cold, and managing to win the competition on top of that. Her triple lutzes were gorgeous as always, but a popped triple flip and a sloppy landing on a triple Salchow only gave her the 5 highest TES of the night. Here's her LP:

Elena Radionova pulled up to 2nd after sitting in 3rd after the short program with a gorgeous dress and a PCS score that was inexplicably 5 points below Leonova. I don't think Radionova is as artistic as everyone says, but Leonova is much worse.
Speaking of Radionova's artistry. Many people are acting like she's the next Sasha Cohen, but I just don't see it. Her LP consists of her frantically flying over the ice while waving her arms around, but still holding out a few nice positions. I see potential, but like Lipnitskaya, she needs to work on holding out her movements. For example, at the end of her program on literally the last note, her arms hit about 50 different positions before the end. She needs to just go into one position, and go into it while taking her time to extend. Another example: at 2:03 in the video, the music slows down, and transfers into fewer notes that are held out for longer. She holds out one movement on the first movement, but then she goes into the next jump. She needs to take that time to maybe to a spiral, or choreo that can be really expressive. However, one thing I do see is a 13 year old (who turned 14 today!) who clearly loves what she does and genuinely seems to love skating, and lets it show. Her long legs also give her a lovely layback, particularly her Biellman. Here's her LP:

Adelina Sotnikova, the 3-time Russian champion and two-time defending champion was 2nd after the short program, but stumbled to 3rd after a sloppy LP. That Christina Aguilera/jazz program is one of the worst programs of the season; I'd be shocked if it goes over well at Euros and Worlds. There's nothing wrong with a jazz program, but mixing in Christina Aguilera's moaning just makes it awful. As I said before, when the music started at SA, my initial reaction was, "what IS this crap?" For the 2011 World Junior Champion who even did Liebestraum last season, there's really no excuse for this ridiculously tacky program that's expected to challenge for a World medal come March. Something tells me she had a hand in picking the music, since you can see her enjoying herself during the awful step sequence. I get that you're 16 Adelina, and you want to be a teenager, but save the teenage stuff on ice for exhibitions, not for long programs. Still, she'll probably medal at Euros, and will easily challenge for a World medal now that she's finally old enough. Here's her LP:

Serafima Sakhanovich, the latest up-and-coming star of the Russians, pulled up from 9th to 4th with a beautiful and near-perfect LP, along with the highest TES of the night. I won't say much about her here, because I'm going to do a whole post on her soon, but this kid has the potential to become biggest Russian star ever. She has fabulous skating skills, a landing knee-bend to die for, and a beautiful lyrical quality to her skating. From my sources, she is 12, and therefore ineligible for Junior Worlds this year, but I believe she will be old enough for the JGP circuit next season (this fall), which I fully expect her to dominate. A full post will come on her soon, but here's her LP:

Anna Pogorilaya, the JGPF bronze medalist, placed 5th after a solid all-around skate, but that was somewhat unremarkable. Anna has many of the ingredients to make her into a force to be reckoned with, but her choreography leaves something to be desired. A LP like this is what's typically viewed as boring: when the music has a lot of detail and many notes, but the skater isn't doing much choreographically, which makes it look like the fast music is playing and the skater is just sort of doing a bit of choreography, but not much. With more attention to detail and work on her jump technique (her jumps have about as much flow out of them as Asada's triple axel does), she can easily medal at Junior Worlds.
Side Note: the Junior World team is expected to be Lipnitskaya, Radionova, and Pogorilaya. I believe it will be determined after the Russian Junior Championships.
Here's Anna's LP:

Nikol Gosviyani, the 3rd ALTERNATE to the Nationals, had the two skates of her life and placed 6th. This has earned her a spot on the European team. However, since it's been over 2 years since she competed internationally, she has to go to a small competition in Poland this weekend to try to earn the minimum required scores for the Europeans. Nikol has competed internationally 3 times in her entire career. The Coupe de Nice in 2007 (as a novice) and 2010 (as a junior), and one JGP in 2010. Like I said, she was the 3rd alternate to the Russian Nationals, and had Lipnitskaya not gotten a concussion, she wouldn't have even competed. She's a pretty skater, but like Pogorilaya, really needs to work on bringing out all the accents of the music. Her jump technique is a little funky, and could use some work. I'll link her SP as well, which I like better. She decided to copy the reigning World Champion by wearing a bedazzles body suit. Heads up Nikol: Just because Kostner decides to wear the worst costume ever to win Worlds, does not mean that you should follow suit. Given that Nikol's has not competed internationally in over 2 years, I honestly have no idea what to expect from her. She's a complete unknown to the skating world. Should she not get the minimum TES scores, Leonova will most likely go to Euros instead. Please do well Nikol, so that we can all be rid of Leonova. Nikol is 16, and is actually coached by Alexei Urmanov, the 1994 Olympic Champion.

The Others:
Oldies Leonova and Makarova placed 7th and 8th respectively, but since Tuktamysheva and Sotnikova are finally old enough for Worlds, they have almost no shot at the Worlds team. Korobeynikova, who was 4th after the SP, slipped to 10th after an subpar free skate that only earned 102.19. Important to note, 8th, 9th, and 10th were all within 0.79 of each other, and everyone from 11th and up scored over 160 for their total score.

The full results can be found here:

As soon as I find out if Gosviyani hit the minimal TES score for Euros, and if someone has to take her place if she doesn't, I'll post it.

- IllusionSpin

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