Golden Skate

Russia’s Kostornaia leads junior ladies in Vancouver

Alena Kostornaia

Alena Kostornaia of Russia performs her Short Program at the 2018-19 Grand Prix Final of Figure Skating.

2018-19 Junior Grand Prix Final of Figure Skating

Junior Ladies’ Short Program

Alena Kostornaia is currently leading a Russian sweep in the Junior Ladies’ event at the 2018-19 Junior Grand Prix Final in Vancouver, B.C. Alexandra Trusova is second, followed by Alena Kanysheva.

Kostornaia gave an inspiring and well-presented performance to music from the The Leftovers soundtrack. The World Junior silver medalist nailed all her jumps which included a double Axel, triple flip, and triple Lutz-triple toe. The skaters also earned a level 4 on all other elements to score a new personal best of 76.32 points.

“I feel this was the best I’ve ever skated,” said the 15-year-old. “I did everything as I had planned. There is still room to grow, but for now, I did the best I could have done. I am glad that I got such a good score, it is my personal best.”

“This is an important season for me,” said the skater who won both her JGP events this season. “I want to turn senior next year and I need the rating.”

This isn’t the first time Kostornaia  edged out her teammate in the Short Program. It happened at the fourth event of the Russian Cup.

“The short program is just half of the way,” she noted.

The skater from Moscow has recently been practicing the triple Axel and would like to do it in competition.

“I’ve been doing it in practice, but it didn’t go so well yet this season,” she said. “I would not be the first one to do it, but I want to do something that not everyone is doing.”

Training mate Trusova was focused and determined in her performance to music from the Kill Bill soundtrack. The World Junior champion was near perfect, landing a double Axel, triple flip, and triple Lutz-triple loop, but was edged out by Kostornaia on the program component scores, finishing a close second with 74.43 points.

“I really enjoy performing here,” said the skater who remains undefeated this season as well as last. “The crowd had a very warm welcome. There were small errors, but overall I am very  happy with my performance.”

“I was supposed to go straight from the cantilever into the lay back spin, but my leg skated off, and I was late, but I completed the element,” said Trusova when asked about her facial expression at the end of her routine.

The 14-year-old is planning three quad jumps for the Free Skate – two Lutzes and a toe, but admits she is a bit nervous about it.

“I always focus on the skating, especially for the free program,” said Trusova. “It is easier to perform the short program, because you are only allowed to do triple jumps. I would like to be able to quads in the short, but rules do not allow it.”

Kanysheva delivered a classical routine to “The Show Must Go On (Moonlight Sonata)” by Natalia Posnova which featured a double Axel, triple flip, and triple Lutz-triple toe. The skater, coached by Svetlana Panova and Tatiana Moiseeva, also earned a level 4 on all spins and was awarded a new season’s best of 68.66 points.

“I definitely can do better and should have done better, but I’m happy with what I did,” said the 13-year-old. “This is my first (junior) season and my first Final. I think it’s already a lot. I am not making any big plans. Whatever happens, happens.”

“My goal is to make a name for myself,” added the Golden Bear champion. “I want the world to know me. I always watch how the other girls practice, I watch them do quads and I want to do them, too. My coaches say that I am still young, it’s too early, but I want to do it! I feel ready. I do try the quad Salchow sometimes, it’s not fully rotated yet, but I keep trying. I think the more you are scared of falling the more it hurts.”

Yelim Kim of South Korea put a hand down and under-rotated the back end of a triple Lutz-triple toe, but otherwise landed a double Axel and triple flip and showed two level 4 spins in her routine to music from the Cinema Paradiso soundtrack. The skater, who is coached by Tom Zakrajsek, sits in fourth with 62.51 points.

“It was not my best performance, but I am okay with that,” said the 15-year-old.

The skater is currently the only non-Russian lady in the mix. “I thought at first it might be a little bit weird since everyone will be speaking in Russian, but now I think it’s fine.”

“I was very happy when I knew I was going to Grand Prix final and everyone was happy for me,” said the CS U.S. International Classic bronze medalist.

Russia’s Anastasia Tarakanova was a little forward on the landing of her opening triple flip and under-rotated the back end of a triple Lutz-triple toe, but showed level 4 spins to finish fifth with 61.78 points.

“I was in good physical shape, and I could have skated better during the short program, the jumps could have been better,” analyzed the 14-year-old. “There were some small errors in the program. My flip was clean. On the Lutz-toe combination there was little error, which made it hard to do the toe. I was mentally well prepared.”

“Physically, there are changes happening (height and weight),” said the defending bronze medalist. “It is not such a big problem for me. I was very confident in myself and was ready for this competition.”

Teammate Anna Shcherbakova gave an expressive routine to “A Comme Amour” by Richard Clayderman, but fell on a double Axel and two-footed the landing on a triple Lutz and didn’t add the toe. The student of Eteri Tutberidze and Sergei Dudakov is currently in sixth (56.26).

“I skated poorly in the short program,” admitted the 14-year-old who won both her JGP events this season. “I made serious mistakes in the jumps that I don’t ever need to doubt. I’m not sure about the reason. I cannot say how this happened.”

“Yes, it was my first time in such a big competition, but it is important not to let that get into my head and I just have to show the best performance I can do,” said the teenager from Moscow.

The skater is now focused on the Free Skate and wants to skate well and pay attention to the small details, not relaxing until it’s over.

“I am planning two quads (Lutz) in the free program,” she offered.