Amazing Russian skaters at Cup of Russia 2015

I realize that the official name is the Rostelecom Cup [apparently, Rostelecom is the name of Russia’s leading long-distance telephone company], but I just like the name better.
Must be all those commentators at past Plushenko competitions, I get so used to them saying the name that it just stuck.

This week, I was lucky enough for Universal HD to carry the short programs so I didn’t have to go through YouTube to see them all.
Next week I won’t have that luxury (and I most likely will miss seeing the NHK Trophy live because we’ll be away next weekend).

By the time we got back from where we were, I missed one competitor. I only remember his first name, Mikhail, and he was from Russia. One of three Russians among the guys.
I didn’t know either of the two commentators so it made easier for me to ignore them or be mad at them when I didn’t quite agree.

Adian Pitkeev was the leader at the end of the short program. He had a very solid program. Some bits, he made look a lot easier than they were. To me, he’s still missing presentation and performance. But he’ll get there.
Sergei Voronov had a strong quad competition, but the landings on his other two jumps was a little sloppy. The commentators made a fair point that he always had only one good program- either the short or free skate. They’re never both strong. I can definitely see that as a weakness. (By the way, it’s nice to finally his short program from a good source- YouTube blocks it cuz of the music and Dailymotion has terrible reception).
Adam Rippon missed his quad lutz, under rotated it. Not having a good quad puts him at a disadvantage, but he was strong in every other area, which puts him in contention.
Then Javier Fernandez, who went last, had an uncharacteristically off day. His quad salchow doubled. And he made some other small mistakes, but it still put him in 2nd place, which says a lot for his presentation. (I’m starting to think the facial hair is part of his costume for the program and less authentic… unless it grows that prolifically on its own).
Ross Miner from the US really had a strong day and it put him within the top 5.

With the ladies, it was an even tighter race.
In the end, Elena Radionova (the commentators annoyed me especially because they never got anyone’s name right- I’d expect Nick Cannon to mispronounce Radionova, not people in the skating community… but they also mispronounced Javier Fernandez as if he was French instead of Spanish)
anyway, Elena Radionova was at the best I’d seen her. She had great maturity in her program and didn’t put a foot wrong. Loved her reaction when she saw she was leading.
Polina Edmunds had her best performance ever. She embodied “Moonlight Sonata” so well and the program just flowed.
Rika Hongo did well, but she was also in a very competitive field. Competing with these Russian teenagers makes Mao Asada look like a cakewalk.
Evgenia Medvedeva fell on her first jump (the commentators got her name wrong too, but also noted that she didn’t have a single fall last year) and it’s the one thing keeping her from first place. The rest of her program was well-done and composed despite that one mistake. She’s in 3rd. There’s another Russian girl who’s in 4th, which means they still have a chance to sweep the podium.
A girl from Canada is in 2nd place. Alaine Chatrand, I believe was her name. She did well obviously, but I don’t remember many details. Her performance didn’t grab me like many others have.
Roberto, the Italian girl who competed in Bordeaux last week didn’t do quite as well as she did back then. She wasn’t as composed, which makes sense considering all that’s happened. Not being able to complete the competition there and all the stuff that happened with the attacks in Paris… I had nobody personally involved, but it took me a couple days to feel remotely normal again.
There was another girl from Sweden who did very well. She had an interesting story in that she has a sister in the sport and she’s attempting now to step out of her shadow. I believe because her sister had been in the sport long and had recently retired.
And Adelina Sotnikova returned to the ice for the first time since the Olympics. And despite mistakes, she had a good comeback πŸ˜‰

FREE SKATES

And of course I continue to be at war with NBC and how they spend time with their figure skating coverage πŸ˜›

I’m getting tired of saying this about Sergei Voronov… I don’t care how bad he performs, I WANT TO SEE HIM PERFORM. They gave a little more airtime, it felt, to the ladies competition and my interest is a tad more with the guys. Especially when there are three Russian men competing and they, seemingly, only ever have time to show one.
But that’s what YouTube is for.
I found an interview with some of the Russian skaters. Sergei mentioned Plushenko by name, but my Russian is still not good enough to figure all that he said about him. Either that he’s a big supporter of his or he feels bad that he didn’t perform as well on the ice with him watching. Maybe Plushenko’s ENG_News handle can confirm this for me…

Now onto Sergei’s free skate…
NBC could have made time to show his performance- it was really good. The landing on his jumps had some mistakes, some under rotations, but I saw nothing wrong that would warrant NBC not to show him.

They started with Adam Rippon. He didn’t have a quad in the program, probably figured removing the quad lutz would give him a better chance at the podium. But considering how the top skaters all had quads, he had a lot of ground to cover. Johnny was saying how he preferred it to his Skate Canada performance because he was more relaxed, not rushing through it. I can’t help but agree. Despite some small mistakes, he was very composed and he had great presence on the ice.
Ross Miner had one quad that went wrong and had some small mistakes, getting a little tired in the second half of his performance. Having to fight through some of those elements. But due to some computing error, he edged out Adam for 3rd place by 3 tenths…
And it seems that Nam Nguyen had a tough free skate because I can’t even find him on YouTube. It’s nice that they at least go through today’s coverage without mentioning Patrick Chan once… it almost feels like everyone here’s obsessed with him and I still am not buying into all the hype.

Even though he ended 5th at Bordeaux last week, he’s still in contention for the Grand Prix Final- so I really don’t get why everyone’s so upset about the skaters not being able to finish because it feels like all the right names in the conversation.
I just hope Yuzuru Hanyu has a great showing next week in his home country because he’s the only top skater who hasn’t gotten to a second grand prix event.

In the end, they only showed four guys… yet they made time for an extra lady on the women’s side… what fresh hell of hyprocrisy is that? What is so hard about them showing an equal number of skaters on both sides?

Javier Fernandez was next. And after he had a tough time in the short, I figured he had to be spectacular to get first place.
He had three quads. The last week in the 2nd half and he kinda fell out of it (ugly landing) and he had to figure with the following combination. But he worked the magic he always seems to have. Johnny & Tara were fawning over him as well, saying how he was a born performer. And it’s interesting to hear how Javi likes this new free skate program, how it allows him to be an actor and set himself apart from other skaters.
He was a natural πŸ˜‰ “Guys and Dolls” and him go just work so well together.

I glimpsed that Plushenko’s Facebook page showed the link for Adian Pitkeev’s free skate. I didn’t look long enough to see if it said that he won, but I knew that meant he was going to have a strong finish.
After Javi’s short program, I figured he would probably only get as far as 2nd place.

Johnny & Tara’s comments on Adian mirrored my own. That he’s great technically, but he needs to work on his artistic score. They also said he was a little too focused and was skating from one element to the next rather than feeling the whole program.
I saw that as well, but my thought was that I saw his talent, but I was very nervous for him. There’s a lot of pressure going into the free skate when you’re in first place and also when you’re from Russia, performing IN Russia.
He had a fall and some under rotations, but he stayed very composed, which for a Russian man, is a pretty big deal. Especially last year seeing Maxim Kovtun and Sergei Voronov having meltdowns even when they start strong.

There was also a comment that Plushenko, Yagudin and Kulik all had moments like Adian had- each came onto the scene the same way and no one knew just how great they would become.
The whole time, I just kept saying I believe Adian could be that next great Russian skater on the men’s side. And I really hope that he gets there. Come next Olympics, he could prove very valuable… but also when it comes to earning spots for the men’s Olympic team.
The whole trouble with Sochi happened because guys like the ones I just mentioned finished 15th and 17th, so there was only one slot for the men.

Later in the broadcast, Johnny made a comment that I had seen on a lot of YouTube comments, but was afraid to believe right away. I know that I can believe him because he has skated and performed in Russia more than any other American skater, male or female.
Russia only really supports their own skaters and fan favorites. [I saw some Spanish flags pop up when Javier Fernandez came on the ice, so he’s clearly a fan favorite- Yuzuru Hanyu probably is too]. They don’t often give warm reception to other skaters from other countries.
Listening to the crowd, you can definitely tell the difference between their skaters and everyone else. I honestly don’t blame them for really supporting their own skaters- but I am often harder on American skaters and it takes a lot to impress me. But only because the Japanese skaters and the Russian ladies are SO good- they need to be able to compete effectively.

And of course this favoritism brings me back to Sochi and the fact the Iceberg emptied after Plushenko withdrew and Evan Lysachek had to field a lot of tweets from people saying how rude it was for the crowd to leave because their one skater would not continue with the competition.
And of course I’d gone into this several times before…

When they began the broadcast, we even had a Plushenko sighting in the audience πŸ˜‰
All of maybe 10 seconds with his name and 4-time Olympic medalist below his name.
It was almost surreal for me because I hadn’t seen him on live TV since the Olympics. Although… I’m wracking my brain now because I remembered I might have also seen him briefly when Elizaveta Tuktamysheva competed sometime last season. Alexei Mishin is her coach as well.

If only NBC had showed him more than once… and they had a couple minutes afterwards… they could have interviewed him, gotten his perspective of the field of Russian skaters male and female because there was plenty to talk about.
But of course, I am asking way too much of NBC so of course they ignored my deepest wishes.
Maybe the Russian media will have better luck getting his thoughts… considering that I still incensed with how the Russian media treated him at Sochi after he withdrew, this wish is surprising me.
I must really be desperate for him to get another interview.

Anyway- the short of it- Adian got 2nd place behind Javier Fernandez (he lost simply because he only had one quad in each program) and Ross Miner was 3rd (which I disagree with- it should have gone to Adam Rippon, but whatever- I’m not among the judges so I have to live with this ).

For the ladies, they had five skaters (and we also saw a few glimpses in the audience at Yulia Lipnitskaya and Adian).

Polina Edmunds was very composed and gorgeous in her skating. Johnny & Tara talked about her growing pains the previous season and how she’s improved, but there’s still something missing.
I felt that too, but I didn’t really know how to put words to it.
Alaine Chatrand from Canada has another rough free skate- this was the point where Johnny mentioned the Russian favoritism. She fought in the second half to land her jumps, but it was hard for me to really get behind her. She had the triple axel, but fell on it. Tara said she should have strategized better, leaving it out if she didn’t have it completely down pat. Especially when she’s the only skater using it.

Riko Hongo finished in 5th, but they didn’t show her.
She under rotated one jump and fell once. But beyond that, I was getting all kinds of chills during her Riverdance free skate πŸ˜€ She owns this music just as well as Jason Brown had in the 2013-2014 season. She really made me smile and the crowd really got behind her, cheering and clapping along with the music. (It wouldn’t surprise me if they had a lot of support for Japanese skaters in general, especially when they’re spot-on).
The only thing keeping her down is the fact all these Russian ladies are on their game.
When competition is this stiff, it’s really hard for others to stand out. And she’s a skater from Japan I’ve really come to enjoy and want to see her succeed however she can.

I had a good feeling that it would, in fact, be a Russian sweep at the podium.

Adelina Sotnikova wasn’t perfect. Especially in the 2nd half where she was on tired legs, fell and made some other small mistakes. But I looked past those and let myself be enchanted by her with her music choice. “Je Suis Malade” is music Plushenko made iconic- but like Rika Hongo had with music I attributed exclusively to someone else, she made this music her own. It also helps that Lara Fabian is the one singing it (opposed to the male singer on Plushenko’s version). She really poured her emotion onto the ice and I felt every second of it. Especially when she burst into tears when she finished. I was so happy to see her back and I hope she continues to make an impression in her future competitions.

However stiff that competition may be.

They showed Yulia in the audience after Adelina skated and later they made a comment that Yulia changed coaches because she was sick of competing with Evgenia Medvedeva for her previous coach’s attention and instruction.
Thinking on it now, it’s almost like the Plushenko-Yagudin situation all over again. Yagudin was ANGRY at Alexei Mishin for spending more time with Plushenko. And I think by the time he changed coaches, he was on the final legs of his career.
I may have watched a handful of his past performances (and blogged about it), but I still am not pleased with him and his slandering Plushenko.

Maybe that’s why Yulia did so much better in Bordeaux than she had at Skate America- the coaching change. And seeing her smiling and waving in the audience.

Tara actually had some tough words for Evgenia, saying that she overuses the hand-over-the-head on all of her jumps. Technically this time it wasn’t all of them, but I see her point. The artistic flourish every now and then is a nice touch, but it gets tiring if it’s overused.
If she made mistakes at all, they were under rotating and a few tiny moments. She would go on to at least win the free skate.

Elena Radionova, I said with her “Titanic” program that it has potential to be a HUGE moment if she performs well. This was that moment. Although I think I was little more nervous about her nailing all her elements πŸ˜› but it was really something special to watch. Loved her reaction when she won. I don’t know whether she or I was happier.
I caught part of her being interviewed and she looked like she was crying.
Definitely the performance of her career so far. And she won because Evgenia was 3rd in the short program and she was first.

Overall, maybe the best competition this year… and it’ll be interesting when the Grand Prix Final comes around. Who winds up in it? And even more important, whether it’ll be 6 or 8 skaters competing to make up for the competition in Bordeaux not finishing…

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2 Responses to Amazing Russian skaters at Cup of Russia 2015

  1. Jens Lyon says:

    I don’t think anyone should worry about Adian’s presentation at this point. What impressed me most about him was how he managed to go out there after Javier– and with Plushenko in the house, no less– and perform a solid free skate. A lot of young skaters wouldn’t have held up under that kind of pressure. It’s a good sign that Adian did.

    • Jackie says:

      Personally I’m big on presentation because that’s what helps me connect with skaters. But I agree that there’s still time for him to develop that since it’s his first year on the senior circuit. And yes, definitely impressive that he had a solid free skate with all those factors and pressures on him. One of my favorite new skaters this year for sure.

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