by Anne Calder

The Rostelecom Cup held in Moscow, Russia from November 20-22 was the third event in the 2020 Grand Prix Series. Six of the ten competing couples represented Russia; the other four skated for Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, and Hungary.

Eight teams train in Russia while the Belarus team is coached in Minsk. The Lithuanians recently moved to the Ice Academy of Montreal (Canada) and work with Romain Haguenauer.

The medalists all represented Russia: Victoria Sinitsina & Nikita Katsalapov claimed the gold (217.51), Tiffani Zagorski & Jonathan Guerreiro won silver (206.91) and Anastasia Skoptcova & Kirill Aleshin earned the bronze – their first Grand Prix medal. (199.25)

RHYTHM DANCE

The top three teams kept their rhythm dance programs from last season.

Sinitsina & Katsalapov danced off to a six-point lead with a snappy, fast-moving performance to “Singin’ in the Rain”. All the elements earned level 4s while each of the seven judges rewarded their outstanding Composition with perfect 10.00s. The segment scored 91.13.

According to Katsalapov, the team was off the ice for a long time due to health issues. He had back problems and doctors in Germany recently confirmed Sinitsina’s inflammation of the knee tendon. In early October, the couple was unable to finish the free dance at the Russian Cup in Moscow. Later in the month, they withdrew from the Sochi event.

Considering all their recent obstacles, the reigning Russian National Champions were quite pleased with their performance.

Zagorski & Guerreiro demonstrated poise and precision in their electrifying performance to The Greatest Showman. The dance earned level 4 marks for the Finnstep, pattern dance step sSequence, twizzles and rotational lift; the midline step sequence received a level 3. The segment scored 84.48.

The team wanted to correct the small mistakes they had made at their Sochi Russian Cup victory back in October. Their high spirits in the Kiss and Cry reflected confidence in reaching that goal.

Skoptcova & Aleshin who danced to selections from the stage musical Bonnie and Clyde echoed the same levels as their training partners, Zagorski & Guerreiro. Although the team kept the music from last season, changes were made to the step sequences. They also worked on emotions and speed.

The team only had two weeks after their victory at the Russian Cup event in Kazan, but did manage to squeeze in a few technical adjustments. Sitting in the Kiss and Cry with their coaches, the 2017 Junior Grand Prix Champions appeared quite happy with the 79.75 score.

In fourth place with a new rhythm dance to Chicago, Annabelle Morozov & Andrei Bagin (RUS) scored a 76.21. Following very close behind with 76.10 points was the new team of Elizaveta Khudaiberdieva & Egor Bazin (RUS). Alexandra Nazarova & Maxim Nikitin (UKR) scored a 74.86 and were sixth.

FREE DANCE

On the second day of competition, the skaters danced in reverse order of their Rhythm Dance finish. Two teams exchanged places in the final roster – the others held ground with their previous positions.

Sinitsina & Katsalapov danced a new routine to “Smile” and “Come Together” by Michael Jackson.

The program earned level 4 for the twizzles, serpentine step sequence, combination spin and two lifts, but unfortunately a flawed rotational lift was given only a level 1. The segment scored 126.38

The 2020 European Champions have been sidelined with injuries, so it was only their first full competition and full run-through of the program. In spite of the many obstacles, the team successfully defended their 2019 Rostelecom Cup title and left the building with gold medals.

Zagorski & Guerreiro danced their powerful “Survivor” program from last season and scored 122.45 points. All the elements were level 4 except the level 3 diagonal step sequence. The two-segment scores totaled 206.91, enough points to be awarded the silver medal.

While it was the team’s third time on a Grand Prix podium, they had never done it in front of a Moscow Grand Prix audience. The 2020 Russian national bronze medalists felt it was a breakthrough for them to show the program the way it was supposed to be done.

Skoptcova & Aleshin brought back their passionate “Never Tear Us Apart” program from last season and scored 119.50 points. Scoptcova’s one-foot step sequence was level 3; the other elements all earned level 4.

The team showed great emotion at the program’s end and again in the Kiss & Cry after hearing their scores. It showed how important and exciting winning their first Grand Prix medal was to both of them.

Khudaiberdieva & Bazin (RUS) moved up to fourth place. (193.18), Morozov & Bagin (RUS) placed fifth to “Terra Rossa” (191.00) and Nazarova & Nikitin (UKR) stayed in sixth place (188.25).

The fourth event in the ISU Grand Prix Series, the NHK Trophy will be held November 27-29 in Osaka, Japan.