Russians took the top four spots in the Grand Prix Final short program Thursday, setting up a likely women’s medal sweep for the first time in the event’s 20-year history.
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva led with 67.52 points in Barcelona, despite stepping out of a landing on a triple Lutz. Tuktamysheva was 10th at last season’s Russian Championships and didn’t make the Sochi Olympics.
Yulia Lipnitskaya was second with 66.24. She was the star of the Sochi team event and won the World Championships silver medal in March.
Two-time reigning World junior champion Yelena Radionova, arguably the favorite this week, fell on a triple loop and was in third place in the six-skater field. Radionova was too young for the Sochi Olympics.
Anna Pogorilaya, fourth at Worlds, was also fourth Thursday, ahead of Japan’s Rika Hongo and American Ashley Wagner.
Wagner, 23 and the oldest woman in the field by more than four years, stepped out of her opening triple flip landing and performed a triple-double combination rather than a triple-triple.
“The program as a whole was solid, but it just goes to show that now with these younger girls, you need a triple-triple jump to be competitive,” Wagner said, according to U.S. Figure Skating.
Wagner won bronze at last year’s Grand Prix Final and silver the year before. She and Michelle Kwan are the only U.S. women to make at least four Grand Prix Finals.
The Russian women will go for history in the free skate Saturday.
Only once in any discipline has a nation swept a Grand Prix Final podium — Russia’s men in 1999. No nation has ever swept the top four spots.
The only Russian woman to win a Grand Prix Final was two-time Olympic medalist Irina Slutskaya. The last of her four titles came in 2004.
Three Russians can compete at the World Championships in March in Shanghai, where they could take the second women’s medal sweep in the history of that event. In 1991, Kristi Yamaguchi, Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan owned the podium for the U.S.
Earlier in pairs, Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford led after the short program with 74.5. Russian favorites Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov, the Olympic and World Championships silver medalists, were second with 72.33.
The Grand Prix Final continues with the short dance and men’s short program Friday. All of the free skates are Saturday.
Icenetwork.com will stream all the sessions to subscribers live. NBC will air coverage Sunday (4-6 p.m.).
Women’s short program
1. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (RUS) — 67.52
2. Yulia Lipnitskaya (RUS) — 66.24
3. Yelena Radionova (RUS) — 63.89
4. Anna Pogorilaya (RUS) — 61.34
5. Rika Hongo (JPN) — 61.1
6. Ashley Wagner (USA) — 60.24
Pairs short program
1. Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford (CAN) — 74.5
2. Ksenia Stolbova/Fedor Klimov (RUS) — 72.33
3. Sui Wenjing/Han Cong (CHN) — 66.66
4. Yu Xiaoyu/Jin Yang (CHN) — 62.71
5. Peng Cheng/Zhang Hao (CHN) — 62.46
6. Yuko Kavaguti/Aleksander Smirnov (RUS) — 55.97