Kamila Valieva steals the show as Zagitova's "Red Machine" lead at Channel One Cup

World junior champion's breathtaking skate helps team come from behind to lead Evgenia Medvedeva's "Time of Firsts" after short programs

4 min By ZK Goh
Kamila Valieva

Kamila Valieva was the standout star of the first day of team competition at the Channel One Figure Skating Cup in Moscow as she helped her "Red Machine" team, captained by Olympic champion Alina Zagitova, come from behind to lead after the short programs.

"Red Machine", named after the nickname given to old Soviet ice hockey teams, were behind the Evgenia Medvedeva-captained "Time of Firsts" team after the ice dance, men's, and pairs short programs, but Valieva and Anna Shcherbakova's high-scoring performances catapulted them into a strong lead.

After the short programs, "Red Machine" lead "Time of Firsts" by 931.41 points to 912.92.

Valieva, the 2020 world junior champion, was the only one of the six ladies' skaters to successfully land a triple Axel; her routine was beautifully choreographed to Storm, an original piece composed by Eric Radford.

The 14-year-old followed up with a triple flip and a triple Lutz, triple toe loop combination; coach Eteri Tutberidze, who joined her and the "Red Machine" team in the kiss and cry afterwards, was seen nodding in satisfaction by the side of the ice.

Her score of 90.25, including an incredible 51.53 points for her technical elements, topped the charts for the ladies.

Before the day's competition began, both teams were tasked to come up with a short team exhibition skate, including the captains Zagitova and Medvedeva.

"Time of Firsts" went with an outer space theme, and were treated to a video message of support recorded by two Russian cosmonauts on the International Space Station; Zagitova's "Red Machine", in line with their name, performed an ice hockey-inspired number and received messages from hockey stars including Alexander Ovechkin and Olympic champion Ilya Kovalchuk.

Shcherbakova's routine also scored highly for the "Red Machine", despite what appeared to be a possible two-footed landing/takeoff on her triple Lutz, triple loop combination.

The three-time Russian national champion's 82.89, and Daria Usacheva's 80.84, both turned the tide as the "Time of Firsts" ladies faltered.

First, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva(https://www.olympicchannel.com/en/athletes/detail/elizaveta-tuktamisheva/) popped her opening triple Axel attempt down to a single – worth no points – before Maiia Khromykh, a late replacement for the unwell Alena Kostornaia, unexpectedly fell during a transition.

Alexandra Trusova (double Axel, triple flip, triple Lutz-triple toe) was the only ladies' skater on Medvedeva's team to put in a clean performance, although her score of 77.86 felt perhaps lower than deserved.

As the judging was done under ISU Judging System rules, the ladies were not permitted to perform quad jumps.

Kondratiuk makes mark, Kolyada shines

"Time of Firsts", who were approximately six points up after the ice dance short dance which opened competition, looked in a very strong position earlier in the day after the men's short programs.

Mark Kondratiuk, a 17-year-old who skated his way to national championships bronze in December, put the senior ranks on notice as he landed two quadruple jumps, one of only two men (along with Makar Ignatov) to do so.

Kondratiuk, skating for "Time of Firsts", hung on to his opening quad toe before following up with a quad Salchow, double toe combination and a triple Axel in an energetic, big-jumping program that scored him 96.89.

He even outscored European champion Dmitri Aliev, who fell on a transition skate and looked to have slightly under-rotated a quad toe.

The top scorer for the men was Rostelecom Cup winner and national champion Mikhail Kolyada, the only skater to break the 100-point mark.

Kolyada opened with a quad toe, triple toe combination and followed it up with a triple Axel and a triple Lutz which he hung on to for a score of 105.42 points.

There were disappointments, however, for world junior champion Andrei Mozalev and the former European silver medallist Alexander Samarin, who both suffered falls on the first jump of their planned combinations.

Samarin also put both hands down on his opening popped Lutz (a quad, down to a triple), which was scored as a fall and resulted in an additional penalty deduction.

Skating to Boléro by Ravel, two-time European champions and veterans Evgenia Tarasova / Vladimir Morozov, skating for "Red Machine", were the pick of the pairs teams.

Current European champions Aleksandra Boikova / Dimitrii Kozlovskii ("Time of Firsts"), however, will be disappointed as they only placed third of the four pairs teams; an off-balance landing leading Boikova putting her hands on the ice on their throw triple flip cost them.

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