On Saturday, at the capital’s Megasport, the country’s strongest skaters presented short programs for the new season. In the singles competition, Kamila Valieva made a splash when she stepped out of her comfort zone and performed a daring blues. I also remember Ksenia Sinitsyna, who amazed me with the purity and plasticity of her skating to Chopin’s nocturne. For the men, Evgeny Semenenko, who played a clown, gave a great performance, and Dmitry Aliev touched the audience with his performance to the song of the Lyube group.
Daring Valieva and piercing Sinitsyna
The September test skates traditionally bring together the country’s strongest skaters to present the work they did in the off-season. Athletes rarely approach them in perfect shape, because this is only the first show of strength – a demonstration of the draft, so to speak. Based on this sketch, in the coming month the teams will create a coherent final picture, but first impressions and conclusions can already be drawn.
In the women’s part of the competition, special attention was focused on Kamila Valieva, and the student of Eteri Tutberidze fully met the expectations of fans and specialists. The 17-year-old figure skater appeared in the short program in a completely new image for herself – not lyrical, but daring and even slightly provocative. Her chic red dress was a logical choice for the musical accompaniment – the blues I See Red from the group Everybody Loves an Outlaw. This new Camila is no longer the girl who cried after an unsuccessful free skate in Beijing, but a confident, matured figure skater. And it was clear how she really got high and enjoyed this hypostasis.
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The entire performance was a breeze – from the starting pose to the playful final pose, in which the skater froze, leaning on the side of the judge’s table. It didn’t blur the impression, but even added a certain charm to the fact that a second before, Camila tripped and almost fell. Her jumping content was not maximum either (only a double axel instead of a triple), but this seemed to fade into the background against the backdrop of the incredible artistry of the performance, the chic spins and plasticity of the skater. And Valieva explained her suboptimal form with health problems.
“I prepared very well, I wanted to enter the season with a quadruple. But on August 16, at the medical examination, they said that I had a retinal tear. I had two laser coagulation treatments, and I rode carefully for two to three weeks. I went out on the ice on September 6th, so I reduced the load,” the skater admitted after the skate.
Against the background of such a bright program by Valieva, the performances of the other participants faded somewhat. Only Adelia Petrosyan could compete with Camila in the originality of the production, but its artistic and almost flawless production from a technical point of view was blurred by an unsuccessful cut of music. Alas, the arrangers failed to create a single whole from the Michael Jackson compositions selected for distribution, and this was very noticeable – or rather, it hurt the ears. However, the winner of the Russian Grand Prix final of last season demonstrated a high degree of readiness for this time of year, although, like her teammate, she did not risk going for a triple axel.
It is worth noting that this kind of caution was inherent in all participants in the Saturday skates, without exception, including Sofya Akatieva, who had a stress fracture in her foot in the summer. So far, the current national champion is far from her best. Although the performance to Aram Khachaturian’s “Masquerade” and the unusual dress with frills will certainly stand out this season, the athlete still has a lot of work ahead, primarily on her jumping – as Sofia herself said.
“First, I want to recover from the injury, get all the elements back,” the skater emphasized.
Alina Gorbacheva performed as an oriental beauty to the composition Pharaoh Ramses II. The young figure skater perfectly got used to the character and performed all the elements without major mistakes and at high speed. However, a certain nervousness was still felt in her performance – Alina’s movements were somewhat constrained, and once she stumbled on the steps. In addition, in the first part of the program, sometimes there was a feeling that the musical accompaniment and her skating existed in isolation from each other.
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva was somewhat surprised by her production. Just a couple of weeks ago, Alexei Mishin’s ward claimed that she was staging a short program on the tango La Cumparsita, and at Megasport she took to the ice to the piercing and tragic Russian music – “I Am the Sky” by the Sounduk group. At the same time, the content of the Empress looked very weak – a snipe and the absence of a cascade – which indirectly may indicate that the production is being developed exclusively for the show, and not for the competition. And after the screening, Elizabeth herself found it difficult to answer the question whether the audience should expect her at the tournaments.
“I don’t want to deceive you,” she said.
Among the many lyrical compositions presented by the skaters, Ksenia Sinitsina’s incredibly tender and airy production of Fryderyk Chopin’s nocturne stood out. All elements were perfectly integrated into the complex music and performed at a high level. For a figure skater with a ballet bearing, this program was a real find.
Toreador Kondratyuk and clown Semenenko
If the girls, by and large, were technically not quite ready for the start of the season, then in the male half there was a desire to skate to the maximum. Most athletes tried to perform quadruple jumps, albeit not always successfully, but, as Makar Ignatov noted, it is better to make mistakes during skates than in competitions.
However, some managed to skate without falling. Firstly, it is worth highlighting the performance of Mark Kondratyuk, who presented the program in the image of a bullfighter under Cantos de Fuego performed by Brand X Music. The former European champion produced solid content from a quadruple lutz, a triple axel and a cascade of quad salchows – a double toe loop. All this, performed without blemishes, was flavored with explosive energy and spectacular choreography.
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Dmitry Aliev almost brought the Megasport podium to tears when he performed a performance of the song “And the River Flows” by the Lyube group. For this soul-tearing program, the audience was ready to forgive the skater for both the failed cascade and the failed trixel. The athlete explained his choice of music simply: “I love my country very much.” Programs of this kind are becoming Aliyev’s calling card – for example, at a show program tournament he performed with the number “Yesenin”, and one of his demonstrations was set to another song “Lube” – “Horse”.
Andrei Mozalev and Matvey Vetlugin made some mistakes at the box office, but both programs stood out in their ideas and implementation, and looked well thought out, including from the point of view of costumes. Mozalev’s outfit, as he explained, symbolizes the book that he closes at the end of the short program – and the next chapter will be revealed in the free program. And Vetlugin’s stylish outfit allowed him to single-handedly reenact “The Last Tango in Paris” on ice.
Unfortunately, the audience did not see the long-awaited production of Pyotr Gumennik under Sonne by Rammstein. The situation is confusing: according to the athlete, he was unable to perform the routine due to external reasons beyond his control. Moreover, both he and his team learned about the changes in the program literally the day before leaving for Moscow, so the only possible decision was made – to perform last year’s short program at Megasport. At the same time, work on the new program will still continue, but it is not yet clear in what form.
Well, the main hero of the evening among the singles skaters was Evgeniy Semenenko with his gorgeous new program – to Le Clown by Bruno Pelletier, staged by Nikita Mikhailov. The Russian champion took to the ice in a black suit with a clown mask pinned to his chest, and not only skated, but lived this performance in the chosen image, without leaving it for a second. At the same time, he also coped with the jumps perfectly, performing the maximum possible set for the short – two quadruples, one of which in a cascade, as well as a triple axel.