Kamila Valiyeva, Olympic favorite, breaks her own figure skating record

In 2014, a 7-year-old ballet dancer and figure skater was named Kamila Valiyeva got her first look at the Olympics. She saw herself on TV as a Russian compatriot Yuliya LipnitskayaThe then 15-year-old was captivated by the iceberg skating palace in Sochi when, as a girl in a red coat, she skated to music from “Schindler’s List”.

On Friday and Saturday, Valiyeva, now 15, made her own appearances to remember in the same venue at the Black Sea resort.

Valiyeva recorded the highest scores in history (due to scoring changes, i.e. effectively since 2018) for the short program and the freestyle. Valiyeva broke her own record for best total score. She collected 272.71 points and won the Rostelecom Cup with 43.48 points with three quadruple jumps in her freestyle.

Russians took the first three places (Yelizaveta Tuktamysheva, Maiia Chromykh), which brought the nation five of the six places in the Grand Prix final within two weeks. The Grand Prix Final is the largest international competition before the Olympic Games and takes the top six per discipline from the six-fold Autumn Grand Prix series.

American Mariah Bell finished fourth and almost achieved a personal best. She jumped from fifth place among US Olympic hopefuls to second this season and will likely go as a favorite to the national team in January to form the three-man Olympic team, along with Alysa Liu.

No US woman reached the Grand Prix final. No US woman has made it to a podium in the Grand Prix series for the first time (made her debut in 1995).

ROSTELECOM CUP: Results | Highlights on NBC on Sunday, 3 p.m. ET

Valiyeva is the only skater who dwarfs 270 points. To put 260 points in the shade. And put 250 points in the shade. No other woman in the world has scored less than 30 points this season.

Valiyeva started in the junior division in 2021. Their story is similar to that of Alina Zagitovawho won the Olympic title in her first senior season in 2018 at the age of 15. Apart from the fact that Zagitova had a close rival in training partner Yevgenia Medvedeva. Valiyeva, on the other hand, is well on its way to finishing gold as the biggest favorite among all figure skating events in 2021.

“If anyone can put it all together in less than 100 days at the Olympics and be better than Kamila Valiyeva was today, I’ll be shocked,” said NBC Sports analyst Johnny Weir said when commenting on Valiyeva’s performance at Skate Canada last month when she broke the world record of 265.08, which she had just broken in Sochi. “It makes everyone happy on both sides, the technical purists or the artistic purists. She has it all, and that is ultimately who should win these competitions. “

Valiyeva is the newest star from the world’s most prestigious ice skating school, Sambo-70 in Moscow. The headmaster is Eteri Tutberidze, a no-nonsense coach who will go to the third consecutive Olympics with a 15-year-old phenomenon after leading Zagitova in 2018 and Valiyeva’s inspiration Lipnitskaya in 2014.

Tutberidze, whose students include six of the eight best skaters in the world, calls Valiyeva “talented” and it’s easy to see why.

She puts both arms over her head to show the ease of her quadruple jumps. She (or maybe Tutberidze or a choreographer) had the boldness to choose “Boléro” for her freestyle from the age of 14 (Michelle Kwan and Carolina Kostner, two of the most graceful modern skaters, appeared in their mid-twenties.)

What’s next for Valiyeva? Probably the four biggest competitions of your life: The Grand Prix Final. The Russian championships, the deepest competition in the world (including the Olympic Games), at the end of December, after which the Olympic team is to be named. The European Championships in January and then the Beijing Games in February.

Grand prix final fields set

Early Saturday, Georgian veteran Morisi Kvitelashvili won his first Grand Prix and jumped from third place to the Japanese after the short program Kazuki Tomono around 1.69.

American Jason Brown, who did not start, secured his second Grand Prix final place when the overall results rocked. Compatriots Nathan Chen and Vincent Zhou previously earned final places. You will be accompanied by Japanese Shoma Uno and Yuma Kagiyama and Russian Mikhail Kolyada.

reigning world champions Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov from Russia won the ice dance with 211.72 points and distanced the Italians Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri until 8.01.

This brings the Grand Prix final showdown between the Russians and the four-time world champion Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron from France. When they last met, the Russians gave the French their only defeat in this Olympic cycle, but that was way back in January 2020. The French have the three best overall results in the world this season.

Also qualified for the final: Americans Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue and Madison Chock and Evan Bates.

Two reigning world champions Anastasia Mishina and Alexander Galliamov skipped other Russians Daria Pavliuchenkova and Denis Khodykin in the freestyle with a total of 226.98 points to prevail up to 14.39. Just Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, another Russian couple, have seen better results this season.

Four Russian couples qualified for the Grand Prix final. They are joined by Olympic silver medalists Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, China’s greatest hope for a figure skating medal in Beijing, and Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara, the first Japanese couple to reach the finals in 10 years.

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