Kamila Valiyeva confirmed she’s a runaway Olympic favorite by winning the Russian Championships, the world’s deepest women’s figure skating competition, by the largest margin in the event’s history.
Valiyeva, a 15-year-old undefeated in this her first senior season, landed three quadruple jumps in Saturday’s free skate.
She totaled 283.48 points, prevailing over Aleksandra Trusova by 34.83, more than doubling the largest women’s margin in Russian Nationals history since the scoring system changed 15 years ago.
Seven Russian women between the ages of 14 and 17 combined to attempt 18 quads on Saturday, landing 11. No woman has landed a quad at an Olympics.
Valiyeva is headed to the Olympics, though Russia may not name its full three-woman team until after January’s European Championships.
Trusova, who landed three quads Saturday and fell on a fourth, and third place Anna Shcherbakova, the world champion who fell on her lone quad attempt, are the front-runners to join her.
Russia is favored to achieve the first podium sweep in Olympic women’s figure skating, a year after taking all the medals at the world championships.
Valiyeva, Trusova and Shcherbakova all train at Sambo-70, the skating club headed by Eteri Tutberidze, who coached 2018 Olympic gold and silver medalists Alina Zagitova and Yevgenia Medvedeva, who no longer skate competitively.
Yelizaveta Tuktamysheva, the 2015 World champion, was the next highest finisher of skaters who are old enough for the Olympics. She was seventh overall, finishing behind two 14-year-olds and a 15-year-old who doesn’t turn 16 until after the July 1 cutoff for Olympic eligibility.
Tuktamysheva, at 25 trying to become the oldest Russian Olympic women’s singles skater since 2006, has at outside shot at getting to Beijing. She likely needs Trusova or Shcherbakova to have a disastrous European Championships. Tuktamysheva was not named to the European Championships team.
Another top Russian, Aliona Kostornaya, withdrew before Russian Nationals due to injury. Kostornaya was the world’s top skater before the pandemic.
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