Alexander Samarin held off competition from his Russian figure skating compatriots to clinch Grand Prix victory at the Rostelecom Cup, with Japan’s Shoma Uno finishing fourth overall.
After picking up silver at the Internationaux de France, Samarin secured his first Grand Prix gold in Moscow ahead of Dmitri Aliev.
“Throughout the season I made some mistakes," said Samarin, "but I am happy, and hopefully, I will get to Grand Prix Final.”
Grand Prix debutant Makar Ignatov completed the podium with a 252.87, just 0.63 points ahead of Shoma Uno, who bounced back from disappointment in France to finish fourth.
Russian 1-2-3 on home ice
Samarin headed a Russian top three going into Saturday’s free skate, with the European silver medallist scoring 92.81 in his short program routine.
It meant Samarin would be last out after team-mates Aliev (90.64) and Ignatov (87.54), with Uno (87.29), Nam Nguyen (87.01) and Deniss Vasiljevs (87.08) also in the second group.
Uno had the opportunity to set the benchmark as first of the six skaters out, with Morisi Kvitelashvili’s combined total of 237.59 the score to beat from the opening group.
The 21-year-old was looking put his free skate at the Internationaux de France behind him. He fell three times.
It was a tricky start for Uno as he failed to land his opening quadruple Salchow.
Uno, who linked up with Turin 2006 silver medallist Stephane Lambiel for the Grand Prix, seemed to grow in confidence thereafter, but another fall when attempting a quadruple toe loop saw his routine end with a blemish.
“Good try, good try,” Lambiel told Uno, who knew his 164.95 and overall score of 252.24 would not likely secure a podium finish.
Uno told reporters afterwards: "If I made the mistake I made today and I was alone, I don’t think I would have been able to laugh it off as I did.
If Stephane (Lambiel) wasn’t there, then there is no smile - Shoma Uno, Japan
"Stephane does advise on technique but he also helps you let go of things and move on.
"I couldn’t produce the result I was hoping for but I’m looking to put it all together during the second half of the season.
"Hopefully, by then, I’ll be able to land the flip, too. I’ll go back to Japan for a week or so and then head to Switzerland again."
Nguyen followed Uno in his attempts to back-up his silver at Skate Canada, and a 159.19 saw him slip into second behind Uno on 246.20.
It was enough for Nguyen to secure a top-five finish after Vasiljevs’ 154.01 placed him more than five points behind the Canadian.
Dmitri Aliev was the first of the three Russians out, and he quadruple toe looped his way to a season’s best 169.24, meaning his 259.88 was enough to take first.
Ignatov scored three points fewer than Aliev in the short program, and his 165.33 in the free skate was not enough to displace his team-mate at the top.
Samarin knew what was required for victory, with 167.08 enough to topple Aliev, and though the routine was far from clean, his 171.64 was enough to finish first by almost five points.
“We don’t have time to celebrate as the season is just starting," Samarin told reporters following his victory.
"I will go to my room, take a deep breath, rest a little and starting from tomorrow I will start thinking about the other competitions and start preparing for them."
Runner-up Aliev added: “We trained together with the guys this summer. We made this gift to ourselves and to our coaches."
We are friends, our coaches are friends. It didn’t happen for a long time that at the international tournaments three Russian guys would win three main titles - Dmitri Aliev, Russia
Kvitelashvili tops the opening group
Vladimir Litvintsev was the first skater out, and the Grand Prix debutant performed much stronger in the free skate after stumbling twice in Friday’s short program, scoring 154.65 to post 209.07 overall.
Daniel Samohin’s withdrawal due to medical reasons meant Alex Krasnozhon was up next, and the American’s landed quad flip contributed to a score of 140.82, enough to finish ahead of Litvintsev.
Georgia’s Morisi Kvitelashvili impressed when producing a season’s best 161.72, placing him just ahead of Michal Brezina, who followed with a 156.20 in a jazzy shirt fitting of the Beatles medley he skated to.
Kazuki Tomono, who recorded a personal best when finishing third in Russia last year, closed out the opening group with a 156.56, leaving him just 0.04 points overall behind Kvitelashvili’s total of 237.59.
Rostelecom Cup men’s results
- 1. Alexander Samarin (RUS) — 264.45 (SP 92.81 – FS 171.64)
- 2. Dmitri Aliev (RUS) — 259.88 (90.64 – 169.24)
- 3. Makar Ignatov (RUS) — 252.87 (87.54 – 165.33)
- 4. Shoma Uno (JPN) — 252.24 (87.29 – 164.95)
- 5. Nam Nguyen (CAN) — 246.20 (87.01 – 159.19)
- 6. Deniss Vasiljevs (LAT) — 241.09 (87.08 – 154.01)
- 7. Morisi Kvitelashvili (GEO) — 237.59 (75.87 – 161.72)
- 8. Kazuki Tomono (JPN) — 237.54 (80.98 – 156.56)
- 9. Michal Brezina (CZE) — 236.47 (80.27 – 156.20)
- 10. Alex Krasnozhon (USA) — 216.28 (75.46 – 140.82)
- 11. Vladimir Litvintsev (AZE) — 209.07 (54.42 – 154.65)
- WD. Daniel Samohin (ISR) — 56.94 (56.94 – N/A)