Kamila Valieva wins Finlandia Trophy 2021 with sublime free skate

Valieva landed three quads to claim the title in Espoo ahead of Elizaveta Tuktamysheva and reigning champ Alena Kostornaia, a 1-2-3 for Figure Skating Federation of Russia athletes.

By Ken Browne

Kamila Valieva is the women's 2021 Finlandia Trophy champion after a sublime women's free skate on Sunday (10th October).

Valieva landed three quad jumps to score a massive 174.31 points on her free for a total of 249.24.

Neither of her compatriots Alena Kostornaia or yesterday's short program winner Elizaveta Tuktamysheva could get close, Tuktamysheva finished second on a total of 233.30 points and Kostornaia third on 218.83.

Valieva elevated from third to first with a soaring skate where she landed a quad Salchow, a quad toe-triple toe combination and another quad toe-Euler-triple Salchow combo.

The 15-year-old fell on her triple Axel in yesterday's short and went down on the same jump today, but with her fluid free skate to Bolero and a program that included three quads and six triples she stole the show in the Espoo Metro Areena.

Dressed in black and red with striking red gloves, Valieva pumped her fists at the end of her performance, knowing what it meant. She was third-last to skate with Kostornaia and Tuktamysheva up next, but with neither packing quads in the arsenal, the young upstart's technical scores were simply unassailable.

Quad power propels Valieva to victory

As soon as teen sensation Valieva landed her first quad, we knew we were in for something special.

A quad Salchow set the tone and despite a fall on her second jump - that troublesome triple Axel - it was a dream free skate.

A quad toe-triple toe was then followed by a triple loop, next that stunning quad toe-Euler-triple Salchow combo, a triple flip-triple toe and a triple Lutz.

A whopping TES (Technical Element Score) of 102.89 lifted her to a hugely important victory over her teammates with fierce competition for Olympic selection this season among the Russian Figure Skating Federation athletes.

Valieva nailed it, and she knew it, now she's right in the mix for one of those coveted Olympic places for Beijing 2022.

Ice dance: Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron claim 2021 Finlandia Trophy title

Ice Dance’s power pair Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron followed up on Saturday’s winning short program with a fabulous free dance on Sunday scoring 131.96 to top the charts once more, their 217.54 overall total giving them the ice dance title in Finland.

Their final tally was almost ten points ahead of nearest rivals Madison Chock and Evan Bates from the USA who totalled 208.31 after a free dance that saw them awarded 124.59 points.

And Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson danced onto the podium in third place with their free skate, one spot up from their fourth-place finish in yesterday’s short dance.

That meant that Spain's Sara Hurtado / Kirill Khaliavin slipped from third to fifth between the short and the free, their Spanish compatriots and direct rivals for an Olympic spot Olivia Smart / Adrian Diaz sliding into fourth place by a fraction.

Hurtado / Khaliavin scored 185.57 to Smart / Diaz’ 185.82 – a 0.25 difference.

Spain has one Olympic place only for ice dance and it’ll be a fascinating duel between these two talented pairs to see who makes it to China.

The Finlandia Trophy was the first of three deciding qualifiers for that golden Olympic ticket, the other two are the Spanish Nationals and the European Championships.

Path to the top of the Olympic podium clear for Papadakis / Cizeron?

With reigning Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir hanging up their skates, the path to the podium at Beijing 2022 looks clear for France’s duo, but they’ll be taking nothing for granted, focussing on the next event and nothing more.

With the French Masters title and now the 2021 Finlandia Trophy in the bag it’s been a very promising start to the Olympic season.

Their performances have been world class, their intensity of emotion and expression, the powerful lifts and tight spin syncs look hard to match right now.

They showed just how sharp they are in Espoo once more despite a 20-month absence before the French Masters that included pulling out of the 2021 World Championships in Stockholm earlier this year

A few short months out from the Beijing Winter Games, the French pair are setting the standard.