Russian junior champion Semenenko leads at Russian Cup Final after short program

Youth Olympic Games silver medallist Andrei Mozalev sits just over a point behind in second; with Petr Gumennik third as Dmitri Aliev and Mark Kondratiuk disappoint

By ZK Goh

Evgeni Semenenko is the surprise leader of the men's singles at the domestic figure skating Russian Cup Final after the short program on Saturday (27 February), as he swept aside more experienced skaters in Moscow.

With senior national champion Mikhail Kolyada absent, all eyes were on 2018 Olympian Dmitri Aliev, Lausanne 2020 Youth Olympic silver medallist Andrei Mozalev, and Channel One Cup breakout star Mark Kondratiuk.

However, 17-year-old Semenenko – the recent Russian junior national champion – upstaged them all with a skate of utmost composure.

Second on the ice in the first group, the St Petersburg skater, who is trained by Alexei Mishin, put on a tour de force, being the only man of the 10 skaters to successfully land two quadruple jumps without errors.

Semenenko opened with a quadruple toe loop, triple toe loop combination and followed that up with clean landings on his quad Salchow and triple Axel.

As he came off the ice, his coach Mishin raised Semenenko's arm as a boxing referee would for a winning fighter, in faux triumph.

It was a real triumph, however, with his score of 94.95 not matched by any of the other nine skaters.

Mozalev came closest – he was the only other skater in the first men's group to execute all three of his jumping elements correctly.

The world junior champion did not score as high as Semenenko did technically with his triple flip, quad toe-triple toe combination, and triple Axel, but received the highest program component marks to sit just over a point behind on 93.83.

It was Petr Gumennik, who won bronze at the World Juniors behind Mozalev, who came in third despite a fall on his quad Salchow attempt.

Aliev was a disappointing ninth out of ten after he popped his triple Axel attempt down to a single, discounting it from the scores. The Olympian looked sombre in the kiss-and-cry as his score was displayed on the screens.

Meanwhile, Kondratiuk was again struck by his old foe inconsistency, as he turned and stepped out of his opening quad toe loop and put his airborne foot down on his triple Axel attempt for balance.

He gave a wry smile in the kiss-and-cry, knowing his errors had cost him; he placed eighth.

The ladies' event will follow.