Figure Skating

Russian ladies secure team win over men in domestic figure skating jump contest

Errors from Mikhail Kolyada and Dmitri Aliev hamper men's team as Channel One Trophy begins in Moscow with "Battle of the Sexes" with Medvedeva and Zagitova as captains

By ZK Goh ·

In a one-of-a-kind jumping competition, Russia's ladies singles figure skaters outshone their male counterparts on the first day of the domestic Channel One Trophy event in front of socially-distanced mask-wearing fans at the Megasport Arena in Moscow.

Eight skaters, four representing each team split by gender and captained by Olympic medallists Alina Zagitova and Evgenia Medvedeva, were selected to go head-to-head over three rounds, with the ladies' team triumphing thanks to the big-jumping Alexandra Trusova, Anna Shcherbakova, and Kamila Valieva.

They, along with the 2015 European and world champion Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, combined to see off the men by 246.30 points to 194.78 as Mikhail Kolyada and Dmitri Aliev faltered.

The result was not a real surprise, with the ladies' skaters – who aside from Tuktamysheva have all trained at Eteri Tutberidze's Sambo-70 Crystal school – being able to put in big jumps that the men have some way to go to match.

When asked for her thoughts by event host Alexei Yagudin, Tutberidze herself said: "I wish for the men's skaters to keep progressing and doing well."

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Head-to-head

The stars were on show in the event.

Aside from Yagudin hosting and Zagitova and Medvedeva serving as team captains, legendary coach Tatyana Tarasova and 2014 Olympic champions Adelina Sotnikova and Maxim Trankov served as guest judges.

All the skaters' coaches, including Tutberidze and Evgeni Plushenko, were also on hand to cheer their skaters on.

The competition was held over three rounds, with Zagitova captaining the women's team in rounds one and three and the men's in round two (and Medvedeva vice-versa).

Scoring was a mix of the old 6.0 system and the current ISU Judging System (IJS): the five judges marked technical ability up to a maximum of 6.0, with an average of the judges' scores added to the base value that the jumps performed would normally get under the IJS.

In the first round, each of the four skaters went head-to-head in direct competition, each performing a set jump.

Both teams opened strongly on the triple Lutz, triple toe loop, with Valieva edging Russian champion Kolyada by 0.02 points. Tuktamysheva then fell on her triple Axel attempt, which Makar Ignatov scored full marks on, before Trusova had to put her hands down on a quad Lutz attempt that Aliev hung on to.

With Shcherbakova and Andrei Mozalev also only 0.02 points apart on a quad flip, triple toe loop, the men had the edge after the opening jumps by 68.70 to 67.22.

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Signature jumps

Skaters were given more free reign in the second round as their captains swapped roles, with Medvedeva taking charge of the ladies and Zagitova the men; they could do any one signature jump from their repertoires.

Tuktamysheva, the first to go, repeated the triple Axel which she landed cleanly, scoring full points. Kolyada perhaps showed a sign of what was to follow as he fell on his quad toe attempt, while Valieva did that same jump gracefully with her arms vertically above her as she rotated to score full points.

The men were also hamstrung in this round by a fall from Ignatov on his quad loop and an under-rotation and hands down on Mozalev's quad flip.

Trusova, Shcherbakova, and Aliev all landed a quad Lutz, for which only Trusova received a perfect score; both Shcherbakova and Aliev's takeoffs and landings were slightly suspect, but only marked down a little by the judges.

The mistakes meant that the ladies had managed to pull over two points clear after the second round, 131.02 to 128.96.

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Never before seen

The skills on show in the third round of competition will perhaps never be seen again, at least at formal competition rather than the light-hearted fun the opening day of the Channel One Cup really was.

Both teams' skaters were told to perform jump combinations of five jumps, two more than the maximum three allowed in regular free skates.

"I like this format, it's the first time happening, it's so extraordinary. I hope everyone enjoys it," Zagitova said, before Medvedeva added: "It's forbidden to do so many jumps in short or free program, so let's just enjoy. The strongest will win."

Tuktamysheva, going first again, opted to make full use of her strong suit, the Axel, with a triple Lutz followed by four double Axels. She performed the sequence successfully and cleanly, and was denied a perfect score by the slightly surprising 5.4 she received from Tarasova despite the other four judges giving her a 6.0.

The men's challenge collapsed before it could even get going, however, as Kolyada, attempting to open with a quad toe to make up for his earlier fall, popped it down to a double and did not finish his combination of five jumps, receiving no score from the judges and just the 1.30 base points for a double toe loop.

Perfect scores followed for the next three skaters – Trusova (quad Lutz, triple toe, single Euler, triple Salchow, triple toe), Ignatov (quad toe, triple toe, single Euler, triple Salchow, double toe), and Shcherbakova (quad flip, triple toe, triple loop, single Euler, triple Salchow) – but when Aliev fell on an attempted quad toe and chose not to complete his combination, the game was up.

Valieva (quad toe, triple toe, triple toe, single Euler, triple Salchow) rounded off a strong competition from the ladies with another perfect score before Mozalev (quad toe, triple toe, single Euler, triple Salchow, double toe) regained an element of consolation for the men despite stepping out of his triple Salchow.

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For their win, the ladies received a prize of one million Russian rubles (around U.S. $13,500).

Serious competition gets underway for the eight, alongside two more singles skaters in each gender, four pairs, and six ice dance teams, on Saturday.

Zagitova and Medvedeva will each captain a team made up of three men, three ladies, two pairs, and three ice dancers. The short programs begin at 5 pm Moscow time, with the free skates/free dances at 5 pm on Sunday.

Team Zagitova:

Ladies: Anna Shcherbakova, Kamila Valieva, Daria Usacheva

Men: Dmitry Aliev, Makar Ignatov, Andrei Mozalev

Pairs: Evgenia Tarasova / Vladimir Morozov, Daria Pavliuchenko / Denis Khodykin

Ice dance: Tiffany Zagorski / Jonathan Guerreiro, Annabelle Morozov / Andrei Bagin, Elizaveta Khudaiberdieva / Egor Bazin

Team Medvedeva:

Ladies: Alexandra Trusova, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, Maiia Khromyk

Men: Mikhail Kolyada, Alexander Samarin, Mark Kondratyuk

Pairs: Aleksandra Boikova / Dmitrii Kozlovskii, Anastasia Mishina / Aleksandr Galliamov

Ice dance: Alexandra Stepanova / Ivan Bukin, Anastasia Skoptsova / Kirill Aleshin, Sofia Shevchenko / Igor Eremenko