19 - 23 November 1997
|11||Tony Sabrina Bombarieri||ITA||11||11|
|8||Jens Ter Laak||GER||11||7|
Notes from the ISU:
The host nation produced the first clean sweep of the ISU Champions Series as Russian Skaters won all four events at the Cup of Russia, the fifth competition of the Series.
World bronze medalist Alexei Yagudin, victor in Paris the week before, made it two wins in a row. He and training partner Evgeny Plushenko were in a class apart from the rest of the field. In the short program, the prodigiously talented Plushenko, who turned 15 just three weeks ago, landed a perfect triple Axel - triple toe loop combination and a triple Lutz. 17 year old Yagudin followed him with the same elements and won a 5 to 2 majority vote from the judges and seven marks of 5.9.
In the the free program Yagudin was outstanding, landing eight triples, including two triple-triple combinations, and a quadruple toe loop. It was the second successive competition that Yagudin produced a clean quad. He won a standing ovation from the packed crowd and was awarded six 5.9s for technical merit and two for presentation.
Plushenko produced seven triples, also with two triple-triple combinations, in a performance only marred by a fall on his second triple Axel. His marks included three 5.8s and seven 5.7s. So last season's World Junior Champion, who placed second in Skate America, will go to the Champions Series Final in Munich next month alongside Yagudin. Viacheslav Zagorodniuk, a former European Champion, was third.
"It was the best performance of my life" Yagudin said. Alexei Mishin, coach to both skaters added: "I have not seen any skaters this season who skated as well as these two."
In the ladies event, European Champion Irina Slutskaya headed a Russian 1-2-3 and now tops the overall standings with 21 points to qualify for the Final. Slutskaya was placed first in the short program by six of the seven judges ahead of two time World silver medalist Surya Bonaly. Slutskaya failed to land her planned triple Lutz combination.
In the free program, Bonaly singled her opening triple Lutz and three of her five other triples had errors. She dropped to fourth place and now will not qualify for the Final. Slutskaya fell on her first triple Lutz. She produced four triples (two in combination) but singled her triple flip. She was awarded three marks of 5.7. Three of the seven judges placed teammate Elena Sokolova, last season's World Junior silver medalist, ahead of Slutskaya. Sokolova landed six triples, doubled two others, and moved up from fourth after the short program to finish second. Sokolova must now wait to see if her 16 points will win her a place in the Final. Olga Markova completed the Russian domination of the podium and finished third but will not make the final.
"I was not happy with my skating" said Slutskaya, who finished second in Gelsenkirchen. "But I will continue the Olympic season in a fighting mood."
Two former World Champion couples contested the pairs event. 1994 Champions Evgenia Shishkova and Vadim Naumov took the lead with a four to three judges' majority after the short program as 1996 World Champions and Skate America winners Marina Eltsova and Andrei Bushkov made an error on the required death spiral.
In the long program, Eltsova and Bushkov skated first. Both two-footed their side-by-side triple toe loops but overall their program won them two marks of 5.8 and seven of 5.7. Shishkova fell on a thrown triple jump and the duo were awarded one 5.8 and two 5.7s. The judges split five to two in favor of Eltsova and Bushkov, who now lead the overall rankings with maximum points after two wins and head the Final qualifiers. Marie-Claude Savard-Gagnon and Luc Bradet finished third, their first podium placing in a major senior international.
Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze have already qualified for the Final and a fourth Russian pair, Oksana Kazakova and Artur Dmitriev, the winners of Skate Canada, will be looking to secure their place in Munich in next week's NHK Trophy. These four couples are ina fierce competition for Russia's three pairs places for the European Championships, the Winter Olympic Games and World Championships. "Every year it is the same," said Naumov. "Every year there are four pairs. It is usual for us."
Also gaining maximum points at their second Champions Series event were World ice dance silver medalists Angelika Krylova and Oleg Ovsiannikov. The couple dominated the competition throughout, winning five marks of 5.9 for their original dance. Their free dance, set to Bizet's "Carmen", won perfect scores for a second successive competition. They were awarded two scores of 6.0 this time both for presentation, following the three 6.0's they won in Gelsenkirchen. This brings their career total of 6.0s to eight.
"It's difficult to compare this performance with Germany," Krylova said. "Each competition we see something we want to do better or some small mistake. Gelsenkirchen was on one level, this one was on a higher level and we're getting better and better."
Irina Lobacheva and Ilia Averbukh, third in Skate Canada, finished second here. The rapidly improving Tatiana Navka and Nikolai Morozov, coached by former World Champion Alexander Zhulin, finished third.
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