Figure Skating

As it happened - ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2021 - Tuesday practice

Alexandra Trusova landed five quads in practice, while we had confirmation of Covid positive skater. Catch up on all the news and reaction from the second day of training in Stockholm.

By Sanjeev Palar and ZK Goh ·

Welcome to our second day of live blogging the ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2021 in Stockholm.

We're covering the event all week, and today (Tuesday 23rd March) is the final practice day as the top skaters take to the ice on the eve of competition which starts Wednesday.

All times are local to host country Sweden (Central European Time/CET).

Please refresh the page for latest updates, and bookmark this page for easy access throughout the day. Most recent updates first.

The Ericsson Globe in Stockholm will host the 2021 ISU World Figure Skating Championships with no fans in attendance. (Photo by Linnea Rheborg/Getty Images)

10:05pm - Action starts tomorrow

We're signing out for the night as we are now on the eve of competition.

Today we had confirmation that Viktoriia Safonova of Belarus was the skater who tested positive for Covid-19, although reports today say she did not have close contact with other skaters and coaches.

We also saw Figure Skating Federation of Russia (FSR) athlete Alexandra Trusova land five – yes, FIVE – quadruples in practice today.

That's the same number we can expect to see from Nathan Chen in his free skate, as he's just told the media.

Competition starts with the ladies' short program at 10 am tomorrow, although they will be on the main rink for practice from as early as around 6 am local time.

Tomorrow's schedule looks like this:

Ladies' singles practice - 6 am

Ladies' singles short program - 10 am

Pairs practice - 7 am

Men's singles practice - 10:30 am

Ice dance practice - 2:30 pm

Opening Ceremony - 5:30 pm

Pairs short program - 6:30 pm

9:54pm - Chen to leave out quad loop

Nathan Chen won't be going for six quads in his free skate, as he has previously attempted at the 2017 worlds and then – successfully – at PyeongChang 2018.

"Not this time, now because you can't repeat two of the same element, it makes it a lot more challenging to do the sixth," Chen said of sticking to five quads like he tried at nationals, adding that he would not jump the quad loop. "It's not an option," he said.

Chen was also asked about the compliance with Covid-19 protocols he had witnessed, after the American previously expressed concerns.

"It is what it is," he said. "I've been trying to keep my distance, keep myself clean. I think people are trying to get a little better [at observing the protocols], but you occasionally see some of the masks not being worn or whatnot."

9:38pm - Brown: "The Salchow is more consistent"

First, Jason Brown's thoughts on jumping quadruples, something he is not exactly known for.

Brown says he intends to only jump a quadruple – the Salchow – in his free program.

"As far as the layout and stuff, it's very similar to Nationals," Brown said.

On switching from a quad toe to a quad Sal, he noted: "Every single day, we train both. All the time. And the Sal is, at this point, more consistent than the toe.

"So we decided to throw it in. But we've choreographed the program so they are interchangeable. But I'm working and striving hard to get them both consistent as possible."

9:30pm - Chen to limit himself to five quads; Brown targets quad Salchow

So, we've had the chance to hear from both Nathan Chen and Jason Brown of the United States.

The top lines: Chen will stick to five quads in his free skate, while Brown has been attempting a quad Salchow in practice, having tried a quad toe loop at U.S. nationals.

Full quotes to follow.

8:55pm - More Hanyu sightings

While we wait for the next set of skaters to come through the mixed zone, hopefully including defending champion Nathan Chen, here's more shots of Hanyu.

8:18pm - Hanyu on the ice

The third practice group for the men, in which all three Japanese skaters were listed to skate, has just finished their evening skate.

Unfortunately, none of the Japanese skaters are giving interviews until following the competition.

But we can enjoy this shot of Hanyu Yuzuru, for now.

Also in that group was Latvia's Deniss Vasiljevs, and here's what he said in the mixed zone about his practice: "There's been some ups and downs, but I'm very happy to feel the presence of the other skaters I really missed. I really missed this experience."

7:40pm - Tickets for World Team Trophy to go on sale

Some other news to bring you from earlier – the Japan Skating Federation has announced ticket sales for the World Team Trophy, which is set to take place in Osaka, Japan, from 15–18 April.

This means some spectators are, for now, planned to be admitted to the season-ending competition, which would be the seventh World Team Trophy in Figure Skating.

It has been held in Japan on all six prior occasions, with the hosts winning in 2012 and 2017. The United States team has won the other four.

7:33pm - Tarasova/Morozov's coach Voronov speaks

Sergei Voronov, coach to FSR pair Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, has given an interview to RT (in Russian) about being at his first World Championships as a coach.

The two-time European Championships singles medallist is on board alongside Tarasova and Morozov's other coaches Maxim Trankov and Marina Zueva.

"It's one thing to work as a coach, and quite another when you have in your hands successful seniors [challenging] for places in the top three of world figure skating," Voronov said. "This is a big challenge.

"If I manage to bring something to the skating of Tarasova and Morozov, help them with jumps or something else, it will be just great."

7:05pm - Men's practice

Good evening and welcome back to Stockholm.

On the main rink at the Ericsson Globe, the men are about to take to the ice for their evening practice session.

They will have two more practices, both on the practice rink, before the short program on Thursday morning.

Meanwhile, the ladies' penultimate training session has been underway for a while on the practice rink. Group 5 takes to the ice in 15 minutes.

6:30pm - Ice Dancers Gilles and Poirier have their sights set on winning

Canada's Ice Dance pair of Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier are set to make their eighth worlds appearance here in Stockholm.

Their best finish to-date was placing sixth in 2015 and again in 2018.

Dancing together since 2011, they were enjoying a career-best season before the pandemic hit, which includes finishing runners-up at the Four Continents Championships in February 2020.

In an exclusive interview with Olympic Channel before flying out to Sweden, the duo share how the pandemic has helped them focus on winning.

“We gave it a long, hard think and realised if the next four years of our lives were really going to be about competing, then we really wanted to compete and we really wanted to win. Our attitude has changed a lot from the past Olympic cycle to this quadrennial.” - Paul Poirier to Olympic Channel

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5:25pm - Have you checked out our preview?

Ladies' practice has begun and we'll bring you updates as they come in.

In the meantime be sure to watch our world championships preview with three-time Olympic medallist Meryl Davis below.

5:15pm - Ladies second practice session coming up

The final Ladies practice session for today will get underway at the practice rink from 5:25pm and runs all the way through to 9:15pm

The Men's session is set to take place on the main rink from 7:05pm to 10:55pm.

Earlier today we saw Anna Shcherbakova fall while practicing her quadruple Lutz and quadruple flip in the practice rink. We asked the 16-year-old about it after the morning session and she replied "All the athletes fall. It's okay, it's normal."

The three-time Russian national champion then quipped, "Well, I wish I was known for other things too, not just for falling."

Shcherbakova turns 17 on Sunday (28 March) and would love nothing more than to shine on her world championship debut.

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4:20pm - Tuktamysheva is not too concerned about quad jumping rivals

Elizaveta Tuktamysheva has no plans to jump a quad here at the World Championships.

The 2015 world champion, who is on a quest to make her Olympic debut at Beijing 2022, believes delivering a solid, clean skate can help her clinch victory here in Stockholm.

"I will try to (achieve victory) through my best performances. That's it." the 24-year-old shared with us after this morning's practice session.

The 2014-15 Grand Prix Final champion is one of three athletes representing the Figure Skating Federation of Russia (FSR) at this meet, alongside quad-jumping sensations Alexandra Trusova and Anna Shcherbakova.

When pressed about how she intends to keep up with her more technically-advanced rivals, Tuktamysheva replied:

"I don't pay attention to it, everyone is trying to show their best and their own elements. I concentrate just on that. Of course, we watch others skaters. But the most important thing is your own achievement." - Elizaveta Tuktamysheva

Tuktamysheva will be the 28th skater to take to the ice in the short program tomorrow and you can hear more about her aspirations in our exclusive interview below.

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3:55pm - Ladies' short program starting order

The starting order for the Ladies' short program which begins at 10am tomorrow has been released.

Kihira Rika will be the last to take to the ice on the first day of competition, with Alexandra Trusova leading the final group.

The 39 skaters are divided into seven groups, with Group 7 consisting of: (in skating order)

  • Alexandra TRUSOVA (Figure Skating Federation of Russia - FSR)
  • Anna SHCHERBAKOVA (FSR)
  • Kaori SAKAMOTO (JPN)
  • Satoko MIYAHARA (JPN)
  • Bradie TENNELL (USA)
  • Rika KIHIRA (JPN)

3:41pm - Confirmation of Safonova's status

UPDATE: It has been confirmed by the Ministry of Sports of Belarus that Viktoriia Safonova was indeed the athlete to test positive upon arrival at world championships as suggested earlier by Russian-language media outlets.

We wish her a speedy recovery.

3:37pm - Alexandra Trusova nails five quadruple jumps

Alexandra Trusova could potentially be gearing up for a world championship debut like no other.

The 16-year-old skating under the Figure Skating Federation of Russia (FSR) banner here in Stockholm landed five quadruple jumps during this morning's practice session.

The two-time junior world champion nailed a quadruple flip, quadruple Salchow, quadruple Lutz and triple Salchow combination, quadruple Lutz and triple toe loop combination as well as a quadruple toe loop.

Trusova holds the free skate world record score of 166.62 points which she set at Skate Canada 2019 while she was still under former coach Eteri Tutberidze. In May 2020 she switched over to train under two-time Olympic and three-time world champion Evgeni Plushenko.

We asked Trusova if we can expect to see five quad jumps or even a triple Axel in her free program on Friday, she coyly replied:

"I cannot reveal any secrets. I always say that I will reveal everything on the day. So you will have to wait and see." Alexandra Trusova to Olympic Channel

But Plushenko, who was standing in the background, chimed in "You will see everything soon."

Trusova takes to the ice at 10am tomorrow for the Ladies' short program, in the meantime be sure to watch our interview with Plushenko where he talks about helping Trusova achieve her goal of jumping give quads in competition.

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2:45pm - Kihira Rika lands a beautiful triple Axel as practice draws to a close

The morning practice session for the Ladies has drawn to a close.

One of the highlights has to be Japan's Kihira Rika landing a well executed triple Axel during her practice session.

In a social media post taken from the grandstand inside the arena, the two-time Four Continents winner can be seen pulling of the jump cleanly and confidently.

Two-time world champion Stephane Lambiel also cleared up any confusion and confirmed to us earlier today that he is in fact coaching the 18-year-old, revealing:

"We've been working together since summer. We've been working on choreo and on many other things." - Stephane Lambiel on Kihira Rika

2:10pm - Ekaterina Kurakova shakes up her short program

Three-time Polish national champion Ekaterina Kurakova will finally get to make her senior worlds debut after last year's event in Montreal was cancelled due to the global pandemic.

The 18-year-old was born in Russia and used to compete under the Russian flag before switching to represent Poland in 2019.

Training under famed coach Brian Orser and his team at the Toronto Cricket Club in Ontario, Canada prior to the pandemic, Kurakova won the 2019 CS Warsaw Cup which also featured Bradie Tennell and successfully defended her Four Nationals title.

During her media session after practice today, Kurakova shared how she's completely overhauled her short program in the last few months,

"'In December I had a different program, now I have changed the short program. No more polka dot dress." - Ekaterina Kurakova

"We developed this new short program back in June" she added sharing "I participated in small Polish competitions and back then I was still skating the old program. But I knew every move of it and so we made a decision to change it. David Wilson was in charge of creating this new program."

From the planned program submitted to the ISU, Kurakova's short program opens with a triple Lutz and triple toeloop combination followed by a triple loop and also includes a double Axel. We won't have long to wait to see what it looks like, the Ladies short program gets underway tomorrow (Wednesday) at 10am.

1:35pm - A glimpse of Jason Brown

Sochi 2014 team bronze medallist Jason Brown is gearing up for his fifth World Championships appearance.

The 26-year-old American has reinvented himself after failing to make the PyeongChang 2018 team and if you haven't already watched our feature interview with him ahead of the competition, be sure to scroll down and click play.

And if you'd like to rewatch Brown's Sochi 2014 performances and much more, be sure to head to Olympic Channel on Ice, a dedicated, non-stop, figure skating channel where you can re-live every memorable figure skating session from the 2010, 2014 and 2018 Olympic Winter Games, and the Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympics.

12:54pm - Zhou on competing against Chen and Hanyu - "It's an absolute honour"

As promised we have more from Vincent Zhou's media session earlier on:

Question: What sort of expectation do you put on your skating this coming weekend?

Zhou: I've grown a lot since 2019. I've developed a lot as an athlete, as a skater, as a performer. And now, obviously, I like to I'd like to go for a gold medal here. But I'm not going to focus on the result too much. I'm just going to do my thing.

Q: How does it feel to compete against the likes of Hanyu Yuzuru and Nathan Chen?

Zhou: First of all, it's an absolute honour to be here competing against the best male figure skaters in history. It's just an incredible experience every time. Simply having the bar so high also helps me push myself to do better and better. And I just I feel really, really lucky to be here and to have the opportunity to compete with them. It's been two years since the last world championships and two years since I've competed in international competition. So, it's a little intimidating and exciting, almost like the first time.

 Q: After a two year absence from international competition, how do you mentally prepare yourself for it?

Zhou: I talked with Christy [Krall] before coming here. And I already recognise the fact that it would be my first worlds and my first international competition in two years and that it would probably be reasonable for me to feel a little starstruck and discombobulated being out there on international ice for the first time in a long time.

And we talked about the best way to approach it. And to use that energy to give myself adrenaline and feel the excitement. But at the same time, I just stay in the right mental flow, stay true to my own process and stay grounded. That’s all stuff that we addressed before coming here.

So after almost quitting the sport, what can Zhou do on his return to competition? Here's a throwback to our exclusive interview with Zhou after he clinched bronze at the 2019 World Championships.

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12:27pm - Vincent Zhou reveals the strategy behind his five quads

USA's Vincent Zhou has no fewer than five quads planned for his free skate.

It might be just the firepower he needs to go up against the likes of teammate Nathan Chen as well as Japan's Hanyu Yuzuru and Uno Shoma, all of whom have two quads in the short program and four quads in the free skate.

The 20-year-old spoke to the media shortly after his morning practice session.

"The goal with the five quads is to get some mileage on it before next season, because I'll really need I really need everything in my arsenal to go for an Olympic medal next year." - Vincent Zhou

The 2019 world championships bronze medallist also revealed that practice has been "a little bit on and off" but added that "I've been training clean longs with five quads so I know I'm capable. I'm going to do my best to perform when the time comes."

More from Zhou's media session coming shortly. In the meantime you can watch this clip of him talking about his goals for Beijing 2022.

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11:51am - Russian media reports Viktoriia Safonova is the skater who tested positive

Russian media sources are reporting that Viktoriia Safonova from Belarus is the skater who has tested positive for COVID-19 in Stockholm.

Yesterday the International Skating Union (ISU) reported that one person in the Competition Bubble has tested positive for Covid.

The 17-year-old who was born in Russia, now competes for Belarus and is their two-time and reigning national champion.

11:14am - Recap of Hanyu Yuzuru's press conference

The double Olympic champion Hanyu Yuzuru spoke to the press after his practice session last night and fan group Axel with Wings has shared a translation of what the two-time world champion said during the online interview session:

The 26-year-old was meant to arrive in Stockholm sooner, but an earthquake in Japan on the 20th of March, meant that he was not able to use the bullet train as planned and had to scramble and change his flights to travel to the world championships.

As a result, he sat out the first practice session yesterday but took to the ice in the evening, after which he shared:

"I think I’m a little bit behind, but I was able to acclimatise to the ice today and I think I ended practice with an overall good feeling." - Hanyu Yuzuru after his first practice session

Here's an extract of the translated interview:

Question: The quads in the second half of practice today seemed to be looking better.

Hanyu: At first I think I was maybe a little too overenthusiastic. Something like the usual idleness for a second. So after that I tried controlling (adjusting) myself. Of course, this time, Brian [Orser] and Tracy [Wilson] are here too, so I think I was able to talk to them and work on keeping my pace.

Q: How are your feelings different when your coaches are here with you (for the competition)?

Hanyu: During the time of Japanese Nationals [in December] there was a lot I had to do on my own. So (in contrast to that time), ultimately, I’m grateful to have people to support me by my side.

Q: This competition is being held in a “bubble environment”. Do you feel any stress?

Hanyu: Well, not particularly. I could say for me, nothing has changed perhaps. Things like, having to wear a mask and whatnot. And also to keep an increased distance from people. I’m definitely cautious and doing things like sanitizing my hands, but, for me, I always do these things during a competition. So I think there’s not much of an effect on me; or rather, instead of effect, it’s like nothing has really changed.

Q: It’s been three months since your wonderful (performances) at Japanese Nationals. Anything you want to improve on?

Hanyu: Yes, of course I want to put out a good performance. Rather than thinking about it in terms of “like Japanese Nationals”, I’d rather think of this competition as a different one on its own. I think it’s good if I can properly put out everything I’ve been practicing thus far, and also, my senses are not very well-adjusted coming here, so I’d like to gradually adjust my senses and my body in order to produce a good performance. Those are my honest feelings. For now, I don’t have any specific thing like “I want to do this,” or “I want to do that,” or “I want to do this kind of performance.”

Q: What is your focus for this competition? Is it securing the spots for the Beijing Olympics or rather to take the crown back from Nathan Chen?

Hanyu: Well, regarding securing the spots, I’d like to contribute as much as I can. Other than that, for this competition, that’s my only stance for now. Other than that, I’d like to build upon my efforts accumulated day-to-day and work towards putting together the good performance that I’m aiming for, just like building up a gradient.

10:30am - Men's practice gets underway

The first men's practice session gets underway on the practice rink. News and reaction when we have it.

The Ladies will also be taking to the ice in the main rink very shortly and we'll keep you abreast of what's going on there too.

Here's a glimpse inside the Globe Arena which was snapped earlier today during the Ice Dance practice session.

9:40am - Good morning!

The positive Covid test on Monday cast something of a shadow over proceedings on the first day of training, and we're hoping that the action over the next 12 hours will get everyone focussed back on the ice.

Timings for the second day of practice are as follows:

Men's Singles: 10:30am-2:20pm (practice rink), 7:05pm-10:55pm (main rink)

Ladies' Singles: 10:55am-2:45pm (main rink), 5:25pm-9.15pm (practice rink)

Stay with us for updates throughout the day!

In the meantime check out our preview article: World Figure Skating Championships 2021 - Preview, TV and streaming details, who's competing and more

And watch our feature interview with Jason Brown ahead of competition.

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