Compared to football, figure skating is the most open sport in the world. Yesterday it was impossible to get into the Russia – Serbia match at the VTB Arena, which did not prevent the sale of scarves and flags nearby. A couple of kilometers in the neighboring “Megasport” nothing reminded of the competition, but it was possible to come and visit for free a couple of meters from the future figure skaters of the national team, Sergey Dudakov and Elena Ilinykh.

This can only be in Russia

Yes, it was just the Moscow junior championship. But the first official tournament in Russia after the pandemic. An employee of the media team ISU Tatyana Flade, seeing the number of journalists and photographers in the room under the stands, said with surprise: “This can only be in Russia.” There were 100 people in the stands at the women’s competition. And they saw a beautiful opening of the season.

Of course, the main battle in women’s single skating, as it happens in recent months at junior competitions, unfolded between three top schools in Moscow – Angels Plushenko, Khrustalny and CSKA. Before this tournament, each of these schools had an athlete with a quadruple – Veronika Zhilina, Sofya Akatieva and Elizaveta Berestovskaya, respectively. They competed for places on the podium.

Akatieva filed a claim for victory in the short program, ahead of the rest by 8 points. A luxurious cascade of triple axel + triple toe loop and a bright image of a superstar left the judges no choice. But Veronika Zhilina, who passed to Evgeni Plushenko, on the contrary, immediately put herself in the position of taking revenge, barely ahead of the figure skater Medvedeva. Elizabeth from the Moskvich school. An unsuccessful flip + toe loop cascade threw the junior Plushenko to sixth place.

Zhilina’s comeback and Akatieva’s triumph

For the last warm-up, the fans pulled themselves into the stands. There was no special control at the entrance – anyone could enter. A Russian flag with the image of Akatieva appeared in the front row. Plushenko’s figure skater Sofia Muravyova was brought a large bouquet.

Three Sergei were standing at the side. Dudakov clapped Akatiev on the shoulder, Davydov calmly explained the nuances of Berestovskaya, Rozanov, together with Elena Ilinykh, set up Zhilina. The Olympic champion was the star of the evening. The dancer did not talk about the functionality and role in Plushenko’s team, but it seems that she put all of herself into the work. In any case, the tears after the hire of Zhilina did not make him doubt it. Veronica was really perfect in the free program, she started with a score of +3.17 for a quadruple sheepskin coat and then caught the courage. 196.92 points – this result gave hope for a medal.

Berestovskaya was the next leader. She performed last year’s Kalinka-Malinka, a bit unusual for junior competitions. The first jump was also a quadruple toe loop. The judges rated it rather harshly, finding a double under-rotation. In other words – in fact, it was counted as a triple. This became the key in the struggle for the intermediate first place. The figure skaters were divided 1.5 points in favor of Zhilina.

Akatieva started the program with difficulty. For several competitions in a row, she has been trying to do what not a single Russian figure skater has been able to do – to do a quadruple jump and a triple axel in one program. All over the world, only the American Alice Liu did this. Sophia did well with jackdaws and mistakes. But all on the “pluses” – never.

This time we managed to land at least both jumps. But a quadruple sheepskin coat – with a hand touch, and a triple axel – with two jackdaws and a step-out. But Akatieva pulled herself together and finished the program without errors. She had a margin of safety, components that were high by the standards of juniors were also with her. 210.21 points – a well-deserved victory. True, let’s not forget that Sophia Samodelkina, the main rival of the Tutberidze group, was not here. That at the junior skates of the national team in Novogorsk received a couple of points less.

Already now Akatieva behaves not just like a sweet girl who wants to smile, but a professional. Already on the podium Sophia said to her rivals: “Let’s take a picture together” – respect for respect for the rivals. With ex-partner in the group Veronica Zhilina, they hugged. I also had to receive a certificate at the award ceremony for Eteri Tutberidze and a cake from the hands of fans.

The feeling of confrontation in the absence of Tutberidze and Plushenko, in fact, was not in Megasport. Instagram fights did not prevent Dudakov and Rozanov from talking calmly during breaks. War is war, and a smoking room is on schedule.

Plushenko won the juniors

The juniors’ struggle unfolded between three schools, and “Khrustalny” was surprisingly not among them. After the short program, Artem Kovalev from Angels Plushenko and Ilya Yablokov (Moskvich) walked nose to nose. The outcome of the fight was decided by one point – only Kovalev won it against Mark Kondratyuk from CSKA, and Yablokov failed several jumps and, not without difficulty, resisted with the bronze.

Anastasia Mukhortova and Dmitry Evgeniev made a comeback among the couples. After the short program, it seemed that Artur Dmitriev could open champagne, but the two-time Olympic champion Belova / Chigirev closed it with their own falls and under-rotations. The duet Sofya Tyutyunina / Alexander Shustitsky won a quiet victory in dancing.

The season has started – and judging by the calmness with which all visitors reacted to the mask mode, there is no reason to cancel the next starts. I would like to hope that this season will reach more status starts.

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