2010 Rostelecom Cup was not very kind to non-Russian skaters.
Of the ten teams who were supposed to compete this week in Moscow, only five completed the event. And the makeup of those five teams? 70% Russian.
Sinead & John Kerr from Great Britain were up first in the Great Rostelecom Exodus. Then came (or rather, went) France’s Zoe Blanc & Pierre-Loup Bouquet. With no time to replace them, the competition began with only eight teams.
Alexandra Paul & Mitch Islam from Canada withdrew after Saturday morning’s practice due to an injury to Paul. A few hours later, Italians Federica Faiella & Massimo Scali withdrew citing lumbago for Scali. The U.S. team doctor pulled an injured Keiffer Hubbell out of the competition, so the American siblings became the fifth victims of the Great Rostelecom Exodus.
Even though only five teams were left, organizers did not go with one warm-up group. Two teams, then another warm-up, then three teams. This still meant that the second group would be skating earlier than they had planned, with the last two teams on the ice about an hour early.
At least one Russian team was guaranteed to stand on the podium. The question was: would they sweep?
Leaders after the short dance, Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev of Russia extended their margin of victory to more than 12 points. They took the gold medal with a score of 154.33. In their fourth season on the senior Grand Prix, this was the first time that they stood atop the podium.
Their free dance to “Melody of the White Nights” by Isaak Schwartz earned level 3s on both footwork sequences and 4s on all other elements. One lone -1 and four base 0s were the lowest Grades of Execution. Bobrova & Soloviev earned a majority of +1s and +2s, with two +3s — from the same judge that gave them their only negative mark. The bulk of their Program Component Scores for their low-key program were in the 7.25-8.25 range.
Placing second in the free dance moved Russians Elena Ilinykh & Nikita Katsalapov up the rankings to win their first senior Grand Prix medal — a bronze. Although they were only in sixth place after the short dance, having two teams above them withdraw before the free dance made that jump much easier. This is not to say that the reigning World Junior champions backed into their medal. Their “Don Quixote” free dance scored 85.65, only 1.74 lower in TES than Bobrova & Soloviev.
Like their compatriots, Ilinykh & Katsalapov earned level 3s for the footwork, 4s for everything else, and only one -1 GOE. They received nine base 0s, but four of those were from the same judge. The PCS proved the difference, as the younger Russians had the bulk of their scores in the 6.25-7.25 range.
Spoiling the sweep, Nora Hoffmann & Maxim Zavozin, representing Hungary, captured the silver medal with a third-place finish in both phases of competition. Zavozin, originally from Moscow, and Hoffman, a Budapest-born beauty, skated a clean free dance to the “Nagyidai Ciganok” (Gypsy Witch) soundtrack by Experidance that brought their event total to 142.09. Although they received no negative marks, their levels fell just short. Their midline step sequence was called only a level 2 (1.5 base points less than a level 3) and their curve lift earned level 3 (0.5 less than a level 4). The judges had a more diverse view of the program components, with scores going from 6.0-8.0.
Even though Hoffmann & Zavozin turned two third places into second overall, Russians Kristina Gorshkova & Vitali Butikov’s two fourth places left them in fourth overall with 127.47. Skating to a retro-ish Latin ballroom-style program, the free dance started out strongly with five level 4 elements in a row. The last three, however, gained only level 2s. Although one judge seemed impressed and awarded +1s and +2s, the other eight were not as moved, handing out GOEs in the -1 to +1 range. PCS ranged from 5.5 to 7.25, with the majority in the upper-5 to mid-6 zone.
Lucie Mysliveckova & Matej Novak of the Czech Republic were fifth in the free dance and overall with a total of 123.70. They won the free dance TES over Gorshkova & Butikov, but without PCS edging into the 7s, Mysliveckova & Novak fell 0.25 short. Their free dance is perhaps the most eclectic mix of songs in the history of ice dancing and is gaining a cult following. The Czechs always look like they are having a blast on the ice, and that unbridled enthusiasm makes the random music edits that much more enjoyable.
Thus endeth the report on the 2010 Great Rostelecom Exodus Cup of Russia. We at IDC wish everyone a speedy recovery from their injuries. You were all truly missed.