Kamila Valiyeva tops Russian Championships short program, followed by surprise

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Olympic favorite Kamila Valiyeva leads the deepest competition in women’s figure skating — the Russian Championships — but is followed by a surprise skater after the short program.

Valiyeva, 15, was one of three women to land a triple Axel in St. Petersburg on Friday. She tallied 90.38 points, distancing second place Sofia Muraviyeva by 8.51.

Valieyva is undefeated in this her first senior season. In three international competitions, she posted the world’s three best scores this season. Her highest — 272.71 — is 35.93 clear of the world’s No. 2 skater, world champion Anna Shcherbakova (who was third in Friday’s short program).

Full results are here.

Muraviyeva is also 15, but she is one month too young for the Olympics (turns 16 after the July 1, 2022 cutoff). Muraviyeva came into the competition ranked 10th among all Russians by best international score this season. Russia is so strong that its 10th-best skater is ranked 15th overall in the world.

Shcherbakova was the top woman who didn’t attempt a triple Axel, the toughest jump in short programs given quads are only allowed in free skates.

The fourth- and sixth-place skaters are each 14 years old. So, then, the standings for Olympic-eligible skaters looking to make the three-woman Russian team for Beijing: Valiyeva, then Shcherbakova, Aleksandra Trusova (fifth overall after falling on a triple Axel) and Yelizaveta Tuktamysheva (seventh overall after falling on a triple Axel).

Tuktamysheva, the 2015 World champion trying to become the oldest Russian Olympic women’s skater since 2006, is in trouble given she is the only one of those four who has never landed a fully rotated quad in competition, according to SkatingScores.com.

Russia may wait until after the European Championships in January to name its Olympic team. It can send three women to that event.

Earlier, world champions Viktoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov withdrew before the free dance due to Katsalapov’s back injury, according to his Instagram.

They are still expected to lead Russia’s Olympic dance team, and potentially face Olympic favorites Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France at the European Championships next month.

Aleksandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin moved up to win the Russian title. They were followed by Diana Davis and Gleb Smolkin, who will likely round out the three-couple Russian Olympic dance team.

That’s notable given Davis, 18, is the U.S.-based daughter of famed Russian women’s singles skating coach Eteri Tutberidze.

Mark Kondratiuk was the surprise Russian men’s champion, edging defending champ Mikhail Kolyada by .67. Kolyada was the top Russian at last season’s worlds in fifth place.

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Kamila Valiyeva tops Russian Championships short program, followed by surprise originally appeared on NBCSports.com