Alena Kostornaia blows opponents away to lead Russian nationals after short program

The 16-year-old is nearly 10 points ahead of nearest challenger Anna Shcherbakova.

Grand Prix Final winner Alena Kostornaia continued her incredible debut senior season by winning the ladies' short program at the Russian national figure skating championships in Kranoyarsk with ease.

Scoring an incredible 89.86 points, the 16-year-old led an Eteri Tutberidze-trained one-two-three finish, with fellow Grand Prix Final medallists Anna Shcherbakova (79.93) and Alexandra Trusova (76.46) coming second and third.

Evgenia Medvedeva, the PyeongChang 2018 silver medallist, was fifth; 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games champion Elizaveta Tuktamysheva finished fourth.

This was the first major competition without Olympic champion Alina Zagitova after she announced a break from competitive skating.

Kostornaia's short program opened with a triple Axel, following up with a triple Lutz and then a triple flip, triple toeloop combination.

She was flawless on all three jumps and it reflected in the judges' scores, scoring a stunning 51.55 on her technical elements for a total score higher than any man received in their short program on Thursday.

Alena Kostornaia skates in the 2019/20 Grand Prix Final in Turin (Photo: REUTERS/Massimo Pinca)
Alena Kostornaia skates in the 2019/20 Grand Prix Final in Turin (Photo: REUTERS/Massimo Pinca)Alena Kostornaia skates in the 2019/20 Grand Prix Final in Turin (Photo: REUTERS/Massimo Pinca)

Shcherbakova and Trusova continue to shine

Shcherbakova, the 15-year-old winner of the Skate America and Cup of China Grands Prix this season, and Skate Canada and Rostelecom Cup champion Trusova, also 15, both also put in clean skates.

However, neither girl included a triple Axel in their three jumps, with both doing double Axels as well as a triple flip.

Shcherbakova did a triple Lutz, triple loop combination as her final jump, while Trusova's combination involved a triple Lutz to triple toeloop.

The only other skater to attempt a triple Axel was Tuktamysheva, although her jump appeared to be off-centre and she had to work hard to save the jump.

Medvedeva fights through issues

Skating last of the 17 athletes in the short program, Toronto-based Brian Orser-coached Evgenia Medvedeva knew exactly what score she had to achieve to be within touching distance of the podium.

With Orser watching on and an expectant and loud fanbase in the crowd, the 20-year-old overcame some issues with her boots earlier this week and missed jumps in her warm-up to put in three solid jumps.

She opened with a triple flip, triple toe combination, before laying down a double Axel and closing with a triple loop. Her triple toeloop was called under-rotated by the judges.

Medvedeva seemed to know she had fought hard, sharing a big hug with Orser as she came off the ice as her fans chanted her name.

"You need to be happy about that. You got through it," Orser told Medvedeva in the kiss-and-cry.

Her score of 71.08 was good for fifth, just over five points off Trusova in third.

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