Junior champ Evgeni Semenenko triumphs in Russian Cup Final

The 17-year-old was second in the men's free skate, but took overall victory from Petr Gumennik and a back-to-form Dmitri Aliev.

By Rory Jiwani

Evgeni Semenenko upstaged his more experienced rivals to win the men's singles at figure skating's Russian Cup Final in Moscow on Sunday (28 February) and perhaps book his place at next month's World Championships.

This was the last chance for skaters to stake their claim for a spot in Stockholm alongside national champion Mikhail Kolyada.

The recent Russian junior champion Semenenko led after Saturday's short program, and kept that form going inside the Megasport Arena with a fine free skate to the Notre Dame de Paris soundtrack.

Trained by Alexei Mishin in St Petersburg, the 17-year-old landed a quad toe loop-triple toe loop combination and a quad Salchow at the start of his routine.

Despite doubling a couple of intended triple jumps later on, and a somewhat tired fall on a triple Salchow, Semenenko scored 170.18 for a winning total of 265.13.

Reigning European champion Dmitri Aliev, who was unable to defend his national title in December due to COVID-19, was back to something like his best after a disappointing short program.

Down in ninth place overnight, the PyeongChang 2018 Olympian just about landed a quad Lutz first up before nailing a quad toe loop-triple toe loop combination in his skate to L'immensita by Il Volo.

Apart from an errant triple flip later on, which meant a deduction for repetition of an element, Aliev showed he remains a force to be reckoned with and gave the Russian selectors something of a dilemma for Stockholm.

The 21-year-old won the free skate with 172.00, moving him up to third overall on 254.79.

World junior champion Andrei Mozalev, lying second overnight, was left to reflect on what might have been after his free skate.

With just over a point to make up on Semenenko, the Lausanne 2020 Youth Olympic silver medallist made a good start but then fell three times as he posted 158.76.

That left him with a total of 252.59 and out of the podium places with Petr Gumennik moving above him.

Gumennik, who took world junior bronze behind Mozalev and Kagiyama Yuma in Tallinn last March, scored 167.97 to repeat his third place from the short program and take second overall with 256.06.

Channel One Cup breakout star Mark Kondratiuk struggled badly with his jumping early in his free skate, coming close to crashing into the boards.

He recovered to show the emotion and artistry which brought him overnight fame earlier this month and scored 167.21, giving him a total of 250.77 and fifth place.

The ladies' free skate follows, with Kamila Valieva leading after the short program.


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