Russian female skaters have set the bar high for their opponents after demonstrating their newly-created programs for the upcoming season, and they might be unbeatable given the level of difficulty they have mastered.
The country’s strongest skaters gathered in Moscow over the weekend to take part in the Russian Open Test Skate event – a preseason open training session which allows new routines to be polished up before the Grand Prix competitions.
Luzhniki Small Sports Arena, which hosted the event, saw many champions gather on one skating rink, with former junior skaters joining the action, attracting thousands of spectators.
Olympic champion Alina Zagitova along with world champions Evgenia Medvedeva and Elizaveta Tuktamysheva presented new programs, which were welcomed warmly by fans.
However, it was first-year senior Alexandra Trusova who stole the show with a jaw-dropping program that included three quadruple jumps.
The 15-year-old, who has been training under renowned coach Eteri Tutberidze, flawlessly landed a quadruple toe-loop in combination with a triple toe-loop, before adding a single quadruple toe-loop and a quadruple lutz.
However, she fell on a triple lutz-triple loop combination, an element which once had been considered the most difficult in women’s skating, but the error didn’t spoil her powerful performance.
The two-time world junior champion is the first female skater who has ever attempted to land three quads in one program. If she manages these jumps at international events, she will be practically untouchable for the rest of the field, including teammates Zagitova and Medvedeva, whose technical arsenals include much ‘easier’ jumps.
Another of Tutberidze’s skaters, Anna Sherbakova, also tried to nail a quadruple lutz, but her attempt was not as successful as Trusova’s.
2015 world champion Tuktamysheva was the only skater who looked competitive alongside the former juniors. The 22-year-old delivered a solid performance with two impeccable triple axels.
She is the second skater in the world after Japan’s Rika Kihira to include two trixels in one program.
Risky elements essentially increase a skater’s technical score in case of faultless execution, but the weighty deductions for mistakes prevent many from including them.
Last year, two falls on triple axels left pre-tournament favorite Kihira without a medal at the world championships in Japan.
Zagitova was solid during the test skates, but looked less impressive than the younger skaters with their extremely complicated programs.
Olympic silver medalist Medvedeva has already called her new Memoirs of a Geisha-inspired program the best routine of her career, but it was not quite as awesome as promised.
The two-time world champion failed to avoid mistakes, falling in the short and free programs. Medvedeva’s geisha routine charmed the crowd, but the technical part of the program lacked difficulty.
The 19-year-old star, which had been Russia’s best for almost two years, didn’t include any ultra-C elements, showing off triple jumps as she has been accustomed to doing. She was said to have tried a quadruple salchow during the training sessions, but didn’t risk demonstrating it in front of the fully-packed arena.
Soon all of the skaters will open the new season, fighting not only for medals and trophies, but also for spots on the national team.
With just three vacant places on the national squad, the fight will be truly fierce, and both Zagitova and Medvedeva could be ousted by the “quad generation.”