Quad-jumping Anna Shcherbakova steals show at Skate America

The Grand Prix debutant lands two quadruple Lutz jumps, and performs a costume change mid-routine, to take the title in Las Vegas from home favourite Bradie Tennell 

By Sanjeev Palar

Grand Prix of Figure Skating debutant Anna Shcherbakova raised the bar and the roof of the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, landing two quadruple jumps in her free skate to clinch the 2019 Skate America crown.

The Russian, who was only fourth after yesterday's short program, scored a season's best of 160.16 points in the free skate to finish on 227.76, more than 11 points clear of overnight leader Bradie Tennell.

The 15-year-old performed quads in last season's Junior Grand Prix and started her first senior Grand Prix free skate with a quad Lutz-triple toe loop combination before landing a second quad Lutz.

"I'm so happy that I can skate it clean because that was my main goal. I'm so happy that I did two quad Lutzes and I'm happy that I could show what we trained everyday, what we have worked on." - Anna Shcherbakova to Olympic Channel

Shcherbakova, who trains under Eteri Tutberidze in Moscow alongside reigning world and Olympic champion Alina Zagitova, went on to complete a flawless program which included a triple Lutz-triple loop combination and - incredibly - a costume change.

Shcherbakova signals new world order?

Shcherbakova won both her Junior Grand Prix assignments last season but disappointed in the Junior Grand Prix Final.

She was then victorious in last year's Russian nationals, beating fellow juniors and training partners Alexandra Trusova and Alena Kostornaia with Zagitova and PyeongChang 2018 silver medallist Evgenia Medvedeva out of the medals.

Trusova beat Shcherbakova to retain her world junior title in March and has already impressed in her early senior outings, not least in the free skate-only Japan Open earlier this month.

With Kostornaia - who does not have quad jumps in her repertoire - taking last weekend's Finlandia Trophy, the three Russian youngsters look set to shake up the pecking order in their first year in the senior ranks.

And Shcherbakova is hoping to perfect her quads to give her the best chance of winning medals this season.

"We jump quads everyday and in every training. We need to jump it more to have more stability, so then we don't think that it's so difficult." - Anna Shcherbakova to Olympic Channel

Anna Shcherbakova 2019 Skate America - Photos: Olympic Channel

Tennell had to settle for second after she scored 141.04 points in the free skate for a total of 216.14.

It was the PyeongChang 2018 team bronze medallist's best result at a Grand Prix, and she was unfazed by all the talk of quad jumps which ultimately cost her victory.

"Everyone is so quad crazy. I think that every athlete is different and for me it's just better to tune out all the buzz and focus on what I'm able to do, what I can do well, and go from there." - Bradie Tennell

(L-R) Bradie Tennell, Anna Shcherbakova and Elizaveta Tuktamysheva on the the podium at 2019 Skate America

Russia's Elizaveta Tuktamysheva delivered a solid free skate to score 138.96 points. The 22-year-old who was fifth after the short program, landed two triple Axels for an overall tally of 208.97 points to claim third.

The 2015 world champion was quick to brush off any notion that she might attempt a quadruple jump this season saying, "It's more of a risk when you're starting to do some different things in the program in the middle of the season.

"I just want to show clean my free program and short program and we will see what's going to happen but I can't do quad toe loop or quad Lutz now, I can do just triple Axel." - Elizaveta Tuktamysheva

2019 Skate America medallist (L_R) Bradie Tennell, Anna Shcherbakova and Elizaveta Tuktamysheva

Hubbell and Donohue retain ice dance crown

There was a home win in the ice dance as Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue retained their Skate America title.

The duo took a lead of three points from the rhythm dance over Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin.

The Russians narrowly won the free dance, by just 0.08, but had to give best to the Americans who beat them to bronze at the World Championships in March.

Hubbell and Donohue, who won last season's Grand Prix Final, totalled 209.55 points with Stepanova and Bukin on 206.57.

Canada's Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sorensen picked up their first Grand Prix medal, taking third on 197.53.

Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue (USA) perform their ice dance free dance program at 2019 Skate America

Hubbel and Donohue continued U.S's dominance in ice dance at Skate America with 15 of the last 17 titles being won by a local duo. The two-time and reigning national champions debuted their free dance program, performing to a medley from the movie "A Star is Born".

"We were happy that we put it out for the first time. There were good things and not so good things and we feel like we can make a lot of progress already, for next week. But we feel like there was a really nice crowd reaction and it was a nice connection between the two of us, and that’s a great place to start." - Madison Hubbell to Olympic Channel 

The duo are set to compete in Skate Canada next week, where they could secure their spot in the Grand Prix Final in December.

Detailed 2019 Skate America results can be found here.


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