The last figure skating event before the International Skating Union (ISU) Grand Prix Final is in the books. Some of the top figure skaters in the world landed in Sochi, Russia for the 2021 Rostelecom Cup.
It was another dramatic men’s event as Georgia’s Morisi Kvitelashvili came away with the gold medal. After winning the silver medal in this competition in 2018 and 2020, it was a sweet victory for the reigning Georgian National Champion.
Reigning Russian National Champion Mikhail Kolyada came from behind after a disappointing skate that left him in fourth place in the short program. His free skate was the top-scoring of the event. It was enough to earn him a spot in next weekend’s Grand Prix Final. Kazuki Tomono of Japan had several errors in the free skate and went from being in the top position after the short program to finishing with a bronze medal overall.
Although Team USA didn’t finish with any medals in this year’s Rostelecom Cup, three American skaters have qualified for the men’s event in the Grand Prix Final. Nathan Chen, Vincent Zhou, and Jason Brown have all qualified to have a chance at medaling for Team USA at this top international competition leading to the 2022 Olympics.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the pairs event was the Russians’ event, and in what was reminiscent of the Soviet era, all of the medals went to Russian teams. Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov finished with the gold medal after a second-place short program.
Teammates Daria Pavliuchenko and Denis Khodykin finished with the silver medal, and Yasmina Kadyrova and Ivan Balchenko rounded out the podium with the bronze medal. Audrey Lu and Misha Mitrofanov of the United States finished just out of the medal standings in fourth place.
This event was a good preview of next week’s Grand Prix Final, where among others Russian teams including Pavliuchenko and Khodykin will be chasing heavy favorites Sui Wenjing and Han Cong of China.
Russians Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov of Russia finished with a gold medal in front of a home crowd. Charlène Guignard and Marco Fabbri of Italy earned the silver medal, their second of this season’s Grand Prix.
Canadians Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sørensen completed the podium with a bronze medal, their second after their third-place finish at this year’s Skate America.
Medalists Sinitsina and Katsalapov and Guignard and Fabri earned their places at next weekend’s Grand Prix Final. Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker were the only American team in the ice dance event and finished in fifth place overall.
After the short program, it looked like American Mariah Bell was going to break the stranglehold on the Russian domination of the event after Maiia Khromykh of Russia finished the short program in a disappointing fifth place. However, Khromykh rallied with a second-place free skate to finish with a bronze medal overall. Bell ultimately finished fourth overall.
The competition ended with Russian figure skaters earning all the medals, with Kamila Valieva absolutely blowing the competition away, earning the gold medal easily with a comfortable 43.48 point lead over silver medalist and fellow Russian skater Elizaveta Tuktamysheva. Valieva received a score of 10 in the Program Component Score (PCS) (for Performance) and ultimately earned the highest scoring short program in history to date.
The women’s event of the Grand Prix Final is set to be a Russian showdown. Kaori Sakamoto of Japan is set to be the only non-Russian skater competing in the women’s event. Heading into the 2022 Olympics, the Russian ladies continue to establish themselves as the ones to beat on the international stage.
The Grand Prix Final is set for next week in Osaka, and it looks to be a fairly good glimpse of what we can expect in the 2022 Olympics, with some heavy hitters like Yuzuru Hanyu still absent due to injury.
Although the Grand Prix Final only has six skaters or teams in each discipline, it usually captures the top skaters at this level and especially in an Olympic year, gives fans a heads up of what to expect for the rest of a season that has not been boring, to say the least.
The 2021 Grand Prix Final will take place December 3-5, 2021 in Osaka, Japan.