Yulia Lipnitskaya

Shoma Uno tops Javier Fernandez in Rostelecom Cup short program

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Japan’s Shoma Uno continued his strong start to the figure skating season, easily bettering world champion Javier Fernandez in the Rostelecom Cup short program in Moscow on Friday.

Uno, 18, beat his personal best by 5.6 points, tallying 98.59 points, doing two quadruple jumps (putting his hand down on one landing).

The Spaniard Fernandez performed one quad and scored 91.55 points for second place. Max Aaron, the 2015 Skate America winner, fell on his quad attempt and put up 73.64 for eighth. Full results are here.

Uno scored 9.43 points higher than he did at Skate America two weeks ago, when he also topped the short program, albeit with a fall. Uno has won all three of his competitions this season, including beating Fernandez at the free-skate-only Japan Open on Oct. 1, which can be seen as a preseason exhibition.

Uno’s personal best Friday moved him from No. 8 to No. 3 all time in short program scores under the current points system. Only Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu and Fernandez have scored higher.

Later Friday, Russians took the top three spots in the women’s short program — 2016 World bronze medalist Anna Pogorilaya (73.93), 2015 World bronze medalist Yelena Radionova (71.93) and 2014 World silver medalist Yulia Lipnitskaya (69.25).

Two-time world medalists Madison Chock and Evan Bates of the U.S. topped the short dance with 74.05 points. Russians Yekaterina Bobrova and Dmitry Soloviyev were second at 74.92.

Russians Natalya Zabiyako and Alexander Enbert were the surprise pairs short program leaders with 69.76 points, .25 better than world bronze medalists Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot. Savchenko and Massot both fell on triple Salchows.

Rostelecom Cup concludes with all of the free skates Saturday. A detailed schedule is here.

Uno and Chock and Bates will clinch berths in December’s Grand Prix Final, the second-biggest annual competition, if they hold on to win Saturday. Actually, Uno will clinch with any podium finish.

NBCSN and the NBC Sports app will air coverage Sunday from 10-11:30 p.m. ET.

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Rostelecom Cup preview, broadcast schedule

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 01:  Javier Fernandez of Spain skates in the Men's Free Skate program during Day 5 of the ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2016 at TD Garden on April 1, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Could the world’s best figure skater *right now* be Shoma Uno, the 18-year-old from Japan?

Uno goes into this weekend’s Rostelecom Cup in Moscow perfect for the early season, following wins at the lower-level Lombardia Trophy in September and the free-skate-only Japan Open and Skate America in October.

Quite a bounce back for a skater who could have easily been shaken by a disappointing seventh-place finish at last season’s world championships.

Uno is 5-foot-2 and soft-spoken, but showed a resiliency in standing up again in his second full season as a senior skater. In fact, in his first event after worlds, at the Team Challenge Cup in April, he became the first skater to land a quadruple flip in competition.

Uno then trounced the last two U.S. champions, Jason Brown and Adam Rippon, at Skate America and comfortably beat two-time reigning world champion Javier Fernández of Spain at the Japan Open, which can be seen as a preseason exhibition.

Uno and Fernández meet again with higher stakes at Rostelecom Cup, beginning in Friday’s short program and concluding with Saturday’s free skate.

If Uno wins again, he will become the first skater to qualify for the Grand Prix Final in December (actually, any podium place will do that) and consolidate the argument that he is the world’s best. That Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu was flawed and beaten at Skate Canada last weekend certainly helps Uno’s case, too.

Fernández, meanwhile, has only competed once this season (that runner-up to Uno in Japan) and recently lost about a week of training while traveling from his Toronto base to Madrid to Tokyo and back for off-ice commitments.

Fernández won Rostelecom Cup the last two seasons, but both times he already had a Grand Prix start under his belt before arriving in Moscow.

Also in action this weekend are three Russians with world championships medals — 2016 bronze medalist Anna Pogorilaya, 2015 bronze medalist Yelena Radionova and 2014 silver medalist Yulia Lipnitskaya.

All three are among several countrywomen jockeying for position behind reigning world champ Yevgenia Medvedeva, who won Skate Canada last week by a whopping 14.2 points. Russia will send three women to worlds in Finland in late March, and Medvedeva appears all but a lock to earn one of those spots.

In pairs, Skate America winners Julianne Séguin and Charlie Bilodeau of Canada will qualify for a second straight Grand Prix Final with a podium finish. They go up against world bronze medalists Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot of Germany.

In ice dance, two-time world medalists Madison Chock and Evan Bates compete for a second straight week after taking second at Skate Canada. They will clinch a Grand Prix Final berth with a victory and could also eventually make it with a second- or third-place finish.

Chock and Bates’ top competition will be past world medalists Yekaterina Bobrova and Dmitry Soloviyev of Russia and Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje of Canada.

Other Americans in action in Moscow are 2015 Skate America winner Max Aaron and Courtney Hicks.

MORE: Full figure skating season broadcast schedule

Rostelecom Cup broadcast schedule (all times Eastern)

Friday Short dance 7:45 a.m. Icenetwork.com
Friday Men’s short program 9:25 a.m. Icenetwork.com
Friday Pairs short program 12 p.m. Icenetwork.com
Friday Women’s short program 1:40 p.m. Icenetwork.com
Friday Women’s, men’s short programs 8-10 p.m. UniHD
Saturday Free dance 7 a.m. Icenetwork.com
Saturday Men’s free skate 8:50 a.m. Icenetwork.com
Saturday Pairs free skate 11:05 a.m. Icenetwork.com
Saturday Women’s free skate 12:50 p.m. Icenetwork.com
Saturday Free dance, pairs free 8-10 p.m. UniHD
Sunday Rostelecom Cup 10-11:30 p.m. NBCSN, NBC Sports app

Key Short Program Start Times (Friday ET)
Weaver/Poje (CAN) — 8:11 a.m.
Chock/Bates (USA) — 8:31 a.m.
Bobrova/Soloviyev (RUS) — 8:38 a.m.
Shoma Uno (JPN) — 10:05 a.m.
Javier Fernandez (ESP) — 10:19 a.m.
Max Aaron (USA) — 10:25 a.m.
Savchenko/Massot (FRA) — 12:14 p.m.
Seguin/Bilodeau (CAN) — 12:20 p.m.
Yulia Lipnitskaya (RUS) — 2:07 p.m.
Anna Pogorilaya (RUS) — 2:13 p.m.
Courtney Hicks (USA) — 2:47 p.m.
Yelena Radionova (RUS) — 2:53 p.m.

Top Grand Prix Season Scores
Men
1. Shoma Uno (JPN) — 279.34 (Skate America)
2. Jason Brown (USA) — 268.38 (Skate America)
3. Patrick Chan (CAN) — 266.95 (Skate Canada)
4. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 263.06 (Skate Canada)
5. Adam Rippon (USA) — 261.43 (Skate America)
*World champion Javier Fernandez yet to compete.

Women
1. Yevgenia Medvedeva (RUS) — 220.65 (Skate Canada)
2. Kaetlyn Osmond (CAN) — 206.45 (Skate Canada)
3. Ashley Wagner (USA) — 196.44 (Skate America)
4. Satoko Miyahara (JPN) — 192.08 (Skate Canada)
5. Mariah Bell (USA) — 191.49 (Skate America)
*World bronze medalist Anna Pogorilaya yet to compete.

Pairs
1. Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford (CAN) — 218.30 (Skate Canada)
2. Yu Xiaoyu/Zhang Hao (CHN) — 202.08 (Skate Canada)
3. Julianne Séguin/Charlie Bilodeau (CAN) — 197.31 (Skate America)
4. Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier (USA) — 192.65 (Skate America)
5. Lubov Ilyushechkina/Dylan Moscovitch (CAN) — 190.22 (Skate Canada)
*World bronze medalists Aliona Savchenko/Bruno Massot yet to compete.

Ice Dance
1. Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir (CAN) — 189.06 (Skate Canada)
2. Madison Chock/Evan Bates (USA) — 188.24 (Skate Canada)
3. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) — 185.75 (Skate America)
4. Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier (CAN) — 182.57 (Skate Canada)
5. Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte (ITA) — 180.35 (Skate Canada)
*World champions Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron yet to compete.

Olympic champions left off Russian team for World Figure Skating Championships

Adelina Sotnikova
AP
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Neither of Russia’s Olympic figure skating champions were named as part of the nation’s three-woman team for the World Championships in Boston later this month.

Olympic singles champion Adelina Sotnikova and team event champion Yulia Lipnitskaya were passed over in favor of Anna Pogorilaya for the team’s third spot behind national champion Yevgenia Medvedeva and silver medalist Yelena Radionova.

The full Russian team for all disciplines is here.

The decision was not shocking, given Pogorilaya was third behind Medvedeva and Radionova at both the Russian Championships in December and the European Championships in January.

However, Pogorilaya finished well behind Medvedeva and Radionova at Europeans, by more than 20 points, opening the door for the Russian federation to sit her for Worlds. Pogorilaya, 17, finished fourth at the 2014 World Championships and 13th at the 2015 Worlds.

Neither Sotnikova nor Lipnitskaya performed consistently well this season.

Sotnikova, 19, returned to top-level competition for the first time since Sochi, where she became the first woman to win an Olympic singles title without a prior Olympic or Worlds medal.

Sotnikova placed third at the Rostelecom Cup in November and sixth at the Russian Championships, her worst result in seven senior Nationals appearances.

Lipnitskaya, 17, was sixth at Skate America in October and second in the short program at Trophée Bompard in November (before the free skate was canceled due to the Paris terror attacks).

At Nationals, Lipnitskaya was third after the short program, behind Medvedeva and Radionova, but 10th in the free skate, plummeting to seventh overall.

Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, the 2015 World champion, placed eighth at Nationals. Her coach said earlier that Tuktamysheva would not attempt to defend her World title in Boston.

Medvedeva and Radionova will be medal favorites in Boston. Pogorilaya will also be in the mix, along with U.S. Olympians Gracie GoldAshley Wagner and Polina Edmunds, plus Japan’s contingent.

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