Anna Shcherbakova wins third consecutive Russia figure skating title

Anna Shcherbakova
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Anna Shcherbakova won a third consecutive Russian figure skating title, doing so as the third skater in a row to land two quadruple jumps in Saturday’s free skate.

Shcherbakova, 16, hit a quad Lutz and a quad flip to improve her lead from Friday’s short program and total 264.10 points, beating 14-year-old Kamila Valiyeva by 10.09. Full results are here.

Shcherbakova’s free skate score — 183.79 — was 17.17 points higher than the top score in history, though scores from domestic competitions (often inflated) don’t count for record purposes and the scoring system is tweaked from season to season.

Valiyeva, who is too young for March’s senior world championships but is now a 2022 Olympic medal contender, landed two quad toe loops just before Shcherbakova skated. A TV camera showed 2002 Olympic champion Aleksey Yagudin appearing to wipe away tears in a commentary position.

Aleksandra Trusova, a 16-year-old who placed third, landed a pair of quad Lutzes in Chelyabinsk.

Shcherbakova became the first Russian woman to win three consecutive national titles since Irina Slutskaya from 1999-2001. She kept Valiyeva from becoming the youngest Russian women’s champion since Adelina Sotnikova in 2010 (Sotnikova, the 2014 Olympic champion, won her first senior national title at age 12 in 2008).

Shcherbakova, Trusova and Aliona Kostornaya, who missed nationals as she returns from a positive coronavirus test, dominated skating last season as all debuted on the senior international level.

Shcherbakova and Trusova appear destined for worlds in Stockholm in March.

The third and final spot on the Russian women’s team could go to Kostornaya, the world’s top skater last season. Or the next-highest ranked, age-eligible skater from nationals — Yelizaveta Nugumanova, who placed sixth overall. Or Yelizaveta Tuktamysheva, the 2015 World champion who dropped from fifth after the short program to seventh but just .38 behind Nugumanova.

Notably absent from nationals: Olympic gold and silver medalists Alina Zagitova (indefinite break from competition) and Yevgenia Medvedeva (working her way back from weeks-long hospitalization for illness).

Earlier, Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov won their third national pairs’ title, edging European champions Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitriy Kozlovskiy by 3.24 points.

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