In 2014, a 7-year-old ballet dancer and figure skater named Kamila Valiyeva got his first glimpse of the Olympics. She watched on television as a Russian compatriot Yulia Lipnitskaya, then 15, captivated the Iceberg Skating Palace in Sochi, skating as the girl in the red coat to the music of “Schindler’s List”.
On Friday and Saturday, now 15-year-old Valiyeva put on her own unforgettable performances at the same venue in the Black Sea resort.
Valiyeva recorded the highest scores in history (due to score changes, this effectively means since 2018) for both the short and free skate. Valiyeva broke her own record for the best total score. She collected 272.71 points to win the Rostelecom Cup by 43.48 points with three quadruple jumps in her free skate.
The Russians took the first three places (Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, Maiia Khromykh), giving the nation five of six places for the Grand Prix final in two weeks. The Grand Prix Final is the largest international competition before the Olympics, winning the top six per discipline of the six events in the Fall Grand Prix Series.
American Mariah bell was fourth, posting almost a personal best. She went from fifth among U.S. Olympic hopefuls this season to second and will likely compete at the January nationals as a favorite to be part of the three-woman Olympic squad, with Alysa liu.
No American woman competed in the Grand Prix final. No American woman has stepped on the Grand Prix Series podium for the first time (started in 1995).
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Valiyeva is the only skater to eclipse 270 points. To eclipse 260 points. And to eclipse 250 points. No other woman in the world has scored within 30 points of her this season.
Valiyeva started 2021 at the junior level. Its story is similar to that of Alina zagitova, who won the 2018 Olympic title at the age of 15 in his first senior season. Except that Zagitova had a close rival as a training partner Yevgeny Medvedeva. Valiyeva, on the other hand, is set to finish 2021 as the biggest favorite for gold among all figure skating events.
“If someone can put it all together and be better than Kamila Valiyeva was today in less than 100 days at the Olympics, I’ll be shocked,” NBC Sports analyst Johnny weir said when commenting on Valiyeva’s performance last month at Skate Canada, when she set the world record of 265.08 points she just broke in Sochi. âIt makes everyone happy on both sides, technical purists or artistic purists. She has it all, and ultimately she is the one who is supposed to win these competitions.
Valiyeva is the latest star from the world’s most prestigious skating school, Sambo-70 in Moscow. The director is Eteri Tutberidze, a down-to-earth trainer set to compete in a third consecutive Olympics with a 15-year-old phenomenon after guiding Zagitova in 2018 and inspiration from Valiyeva, Lipnitskaya, in 2014.
Tutberidze, whose students include six of the world’s eight best skaters, calls Valiyeva âgifted,â and it’s easy to see why.
She puts both arms above her head to show the ease of her quadruple jumps. She (or maybe Tutberidze or a choreographer) had the audacity to choose “BolÃ©ro” for her free program from the age of 14 (michelle kwan and Caroline kostner, two of the most graceful modern skaters, performed there in their mid-twenties.)
What’s next for Valiyeva? Without doubt the four greatest competitions of his life: the Grand Prix final. The Russian Championships, the deepest competition in the world (including the Olympics), at the end of December, after which the Olympic team is expected to be named. The European Championships in January then the Beijing Games in February.
Set of pitches for the Grand Prix final
Earlier on Saturday, the Georgian veteran Morisi Kvitelashvili won his first Grand Prix victory, jumping from third place after the short program to beat the Japanese Kazuki tomono by 1.69.
American Jason brown, who was not competing, clinched his second place for the Grand Prix final after the overall results shook. Compatriots Nathan Chen and Vincent zhou previously won the final places. They will be joined by Japanese Shoma uno and Yuma Kagiyama and russian Mikhail Kolyada.
Reigning World Champions Victoria sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov of Russia won the ice dance with 211.72 points, outrunning the Italians Charlene guignard and Marco fabbri by 8.01.
This sets up a final Grand Prix showdown between the Russians and the quadruple world champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France. The last time they met, the Russians inflicted on the French their only loss of this Olympic cycle, but it was in January 2020. The French have the three best scores in the world this season.
Also qualified for the final: the Americans Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue and Madison hold and Evan bates.
In pairs, reigning world champions Anastasia michina and Alexander Galliamov Russian compatriots leapfrog Daria Pavliuchenkova and Denis khodykin in the free skate, scoring 226.98 points to win by 14.39. Alone Yevgeny Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, yet another Russian pair, have scored higher this season.
Four Russian pairs qualified for the Grand Prix final. They are joined by Olympic silver medalists Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, China’s top hope for a figure skating medal in Beijing, and Riku miura and Ryuichi kihara, the first Japanese pair to reach the final in 10 years.
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