It was a relatively quiet week of skating with national championship events in Russia and Japan as the only competitions. On the Olympics front, Japan has named three-time national champions Kana Muramoto & Chris Reed as their ice dance representatives, but Russia will wait until after the 2018 European Championships before making a final decision.
No national championship events are being contested this week. The U.S. Championships are next on the calendar and will get underway this Friday, December 29th. The first ice dance event (juvenile pattern dances) will be held on Sunday starting at 10:45 AM. Our preview of the U.S. Championships will be posted on Thursday evening as a separate feature and outside the weekly Ice Dance Observer.
See you in San Jose!
RECAP: RUSSIAN NATIONALS
Last weekend, six-time champions Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitry Soloviev added a seventh national title to their resume. After holding a slim .58-point lead in the short dance, they followed up with an emotionally-charged free dance performance that brought the audience to its feet and induced tears from coach Alexander Zhulin.
“The tears of our coach, a real man who does not give in to any emotions, are worth a lot,” Soloviev said. “Today, Alexander Vyacheslavovich (Zhulin) allowed himself a little emotion. It was very touching. This is the highest estimate of our skating, in addition to the fact that today after our performance the audience rose.”
“When we turned to go to the coaches and see how they rejoice, shake hands, and see that Sasha was lying on the boards and cried, then I began to sob for the third time with happiness,” Bobrova added.
Bobrova & Soloviev earned level 4 for five elements, with only their step sequences being graded level 3. They ended the day with 115.53 for the segment and 193.08 overall.
Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin skated one of their strongest short dances this season and were threatening to dethrone Bobrova & Soloviev from the top spot. However, their free dance performance was not as strong and included a twizzle mistake from Stepanova that lost valuable points. All three lifts and their spin received level 4, but their twizzles and both step sequences were marked level 3.
“We do not know how many points were lost, but I think if we work on it, everything will be fine,” Bukin said.
Finishing third were Tiffani Zagorski & Jonathan Guerreiro, who had finished fifth the past three national championships. After a solid short dance performance, the team had small mistakes in the free dance that saw them drop to fourth in that segment.
“Unfortunately, the free dance did not work out as we would like it to be,” Zagorski said. “There were small mistakes. Today we experienced additional stress, because we realized that we can really fight for prizes. Our goal was pure execution of programs and, in principle, we achieved it; now we will improve our skills.”
After finishing fourth in the short dance, Victoria Sinitsina & Nikita Katsalapov withdrew after skating two-thirds of their free dance to Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concerto No. 2 Op. 18” when Katsalapov became injured during the performance. They were skating incredibly well until Katsalapov dropped to one knee on the straightline lift, when the injury was aggravated. They spoke to the referee for a few moments, and then bowed to signal their withdraw.
Betina Popova & Sergey Mozgov were only alternates to the Russian Nationals last year, but made the most of their chance this year by finishing third in the free dance and fourth overall.
The top three teams will now head to the European Championships, after which Russia will announce the two couples nominated to compete in Pyeongchang. Because of restrictions from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), these teams are subject to IOC approval.
RECAP: JAPAN NATIONALS
This past weekend, Japan also crowned their national champions and selected the team members to compete at the Olympic Games, Four Continents, and the World Championships.
Kana Muramoto & Chris Reed claimed their third national title, scoring 166.45 and finishing just under 17 points ahead of the silver medalists. The second-year team of Misato Komatsubara & Timothy Koleto, bronze medalists at this event last year, finished second. Rikako Fukase & Aru Tateno, the two-time junior champions, claimed bronze in their first trip the the senior championships.
As previously stated, Japan has named Kana Muramoto & Chris Reed to the Olympic team. This is Muramoto’s first trip to the Olympics, while Reed is already a two-time Olympian and competed in both Vancouver and Sochi. The team will also compete at the 2018 World Championships. Japan will send Muramoto & Reed, Komatsubara & Koleto, and Fukase & Tateno to the Four Continents Championships.