by Klaus-Reinhold Kany
The women’s competition at Skate Canada had a high level, especially in the first half. No less than six women performed a triple Axel, which has never happened before at a single competition.
The winner Kamila Valieva is the latest of the many young Russian “Wonderkids“ from the school of Eteri Tutberidze. She is 15 years old, and after winning three Junior Grand Prix in 2018 and 2019 and Junior Worlds in 2020, this was her first senior Grand Prix. She won with 265.08 points, a new world record for women. Like all Russian and Chinese skaters who have no Western, but a Russian vaccine jab, she had to stay three days in quarantine in her hotel room. In the short program, quads are not allowed for women. Skating to “In Memoriam“ by the young Russian composer Kirill Richter, she opened the program with a good triple Axel, followed by an excellent triple flip and a good combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop. Her three spins were outstanding and were awarded 18 times GOEs of +5. The step sequence was outstanding as well and her components had an average of 9.0. She said, “I am happy that I did 100 per cent today. I skated calmer. It was hard to stay in the room for three days in quarantine. We tried to train a bit in the room, which was difficult, but possible.”
Her free program music is the famous Bolero by Maurice Ravel. The first element was a very good quad Salchow, followed by a stepped-out triple Axel. An excellent combination of quad toe loop and triple toe loop came next and in the second half another stellar sequence of quad toe loop, Euler and triple Salchow. Valieva added four more triple jumps and world class spins and steps which got GOEs of +4 and +5. She skated in high speed and her components were around 9.3. She commented, “I am very happy to skate here at Skate Canada and that I did my job. There were some errors, but they were small. I did everything what I had planned in my program and that is the most important for me. I am very excited about my score and I will strive to do even better.”
Valieva’s teammate Elizaveta Tuktamysheva from the school of Alexei Mishin won the silver medal, earning 232.88 points. She had the same very good elements in the short program, but a bit less spectacular and skated with less speed. She skated to the Tango “Oblivion“ and her components were around 8.8. “I am not in the best condition and I learn to skate under different circumstances“, she said. “My body was not happy to do something today, I felt the jetlag.” In her oriental and entertaining free program, Tuktamysheva had two clean triple Axels and five more good triples, most of which were good. Her spins were excellent, her Choreo step outstanding. The 24-year-old skater explained: “I am crazily happy that I was able to put out a good quality performance. When I went out to skate, I was not at a 100 per cent. But I was able to overcome myself and to finish on such a positive note.“
The Russian medal sweep was completed with the bronze medal for Alena Kostornaia from the Tutberidze school who won 214.54 points. Skating to two songs with the title of “New York, New York“, she began with a triple Axel which was almost under-rotated and got a q. The six other elements were very good, but the levels a bit lower and she concentrates much on her elements. In her free program, five triple jumps were very good, but three others, including a triple Axel, a bit under-rotated. She said, “I am pleased I could overcome myself and show my program. Some mistakes added up, but I am very happy with my result. I competed with these programs for the first time.”
Mai Mihara from Japan finished fourth with 210.01 points. Her short program to “I Dreamed a Dream“ from the French musical “Les Miserables“ was almost flawless, but her combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop a bit small and the toe loop slightly under-rotated. But in her free program to the Japanese music of “Fairy in the Forest“ by Yuko Toyoda she skated with more charm and landed seven very good triple jumps, but no Axel.
U.S. skater Alysa Liu came fifth with 206.53 points. She opened her short program to a gypsy dance by Leon Minkus with a triple Axel, but it was under-rotated. The combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop and the triple flip were good, two spins excellent and the layback spin outstanding (with two GOEs of +5). In the free program to a violin concerto by Peter Tchaikovsky, she fell on the triple Axel which was downgraded. Four other triples were good and three more triples under-rotated. The spins had an excellent quality again and her skating shows a lot of visible joy. Her components were around 8.4.
Wakaba Higuchi from Japan finished on sixth position with 205.27 points. Her three triple jumps in the short program were more or less under-rotated, but the double Axel was good and the spins outstanding. At the beginning of her her free program to the soundtrack of “Lion King“, she landed a good triple Axel, later four other good triples, but the flip got an edge call. Haein Lee from South Korea’s capital of Seoul is seventh with 190.00 points. In the short program to “Ave Maria“ by Franz Schubert, her double Axel was good, the triple toe loop of her combination with a triple Lutz near an under-rotation and she went down on the triple flip. In her free program to Korean national music, four triples were good, but three under-rotated.
Madeline Schizas of Milton, Ontario, was the best of the three Canadian women and came eighth with 186.56 points. In her short program to the Russian Waltz “My Sweet And Tender Beast“ by Evgeni Doga, her combination was only double Lutz and triple toe loop, but the six other elements good. In her free program to Puccini opera music, four of her seven triples were not really clean. Mana Kawabe from Japan sits in ninth position with 186.52 points. In her short program, she fell on the double Axel and on the triple Lutz and her combination was a triple flip with a double toe loop. She began her free program with a triple Axel which got a q, followed by five good other triple jumps and two with a q again.
Karen Chen of Colorado Springs performed a good double Axel, almost fell on the combination of triple Lutz and double toe loop and had a very good triple loop in the short program. Her elegant style did not prevent her from dropping from sixth to tenth place with 183.41 overall points because six of her jumps in the free program were under-rotated and she fell on two of them. Emily Bausback of Vancouver in Canada is 11th with 159.88 points. In her short program, the combination was not clean, but the other elements good. In the free, she missed three jumps. Alison Schumacher from Toronto, who trains with Joey Russell, ended up 12th and last with 151.19 points. None of her triple jumps in the free program were clean.