Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, the 2015 European and World champion, showed that she is still a force to be reckoned with as she laid down an artistically beautiful skate, punctuated by triple Axels, to win the figure skating Rostelecom Cup Russian Grand Prix in Moscow on Saturday.
Her score of 223.39 points was enough to beat short program leader Alena Kostornaia (220.78), while Anastasiia Guliakova (199.03 points) was the surprise bronze medallist.
Kostornaia's fellow Evgeni Plyuschenko trainee Alexandra Trusova suffered four falls and received six points in deductions in her skate as she fell out of the medal positions.
Tuktamysheva attempted two triple Axels in her program, while Trusova attempted four quads in hers and Kostornaia did not have any big jumps. However, Trusova fell four times in her skate – on her first three jumps, all quads, and a triple Lutz – and although Tuktamysheva had to step out of her second triple Axel, she still managed to overturn a four-point deficit from Friday.
"There were a few errors but I'm very pleased and I'm looking forward to a little rest," she said after her win.
Ladies: Kostornaia and Tuktamysheva artistically brilliant, Trusova goes big and misses
Tuktamysheva put in a mature and beautiful skate that, despite her stepping out of a triple Axel, had the crowd and commentators on their feet in a standing ovation afterwards.
The 2015 world and European champion showed that on her day, she is still able to challenge the young guns at the top of the sport.
Opening with a triple Axel-double toe loop combination, the 23-year-old laid down a marker for the rest of her skate and for Kostornaia.
After her second triple Axel, she added a triple Lutz, triple flip, double Axel-triple toe-double toe combination, triple Lutz-double Axel combination, and a triple loop.
The victory was Tuktamysheva's fifth Grand Prix win in her career and her first in Moscow.
"I've competed twice or thrice at the Rostelecom Cup before, there was such warm support today," she said. "I wasn't sure in the victory, I didn't see how Alena skated and I didn't know what scores she would get. It was a nice surprise for me.
"It's such a rare chance to perform in front of a crowd. I really felt their support and fed off their energy."
Kostornaia, skating to the music of Abel Korzeniowski, went out on the ice last and knew exactly what she needed to do.
An incredible, clean skate followed, with a quiet confident smile on her face at the end telling the story of how she felt she did.
Although she didn't have a triple Axel in her program, she did everything as she needed to – and fell just short with her technical score, despite outscoring Tuktamysheva on her program components.
"I knew Liza had skated very well because I watched her performance," she said of Tuktamysheva's skate. "I went out to do my job and wanted to do everything as planned and unfortunately it didn't work out but we will continue to work hard.
"Obviously, in order to compete at the highest level, you need to do the hard jumps like quads and triple Axels. These are in my plans and we'll work towards that," she added.
With the music of Romeo and Juliet providing the setting, Trusova attempted four quads in her routine again, just as she had earlier this month in the Cup of Russia in Kazan.
However, things did not work out for her today, falling on her quad Salchow, quad Lutz, quad toe, and triple Lutz.
If the plan was to make up her eight-point short program deficit to the pair in front of her with a big technical score, it backfired.
Pairs: Boikova / Kozlovskii flawless
European champions Boikova / Kozlovskii were on their best form as they successfully defended their pairs title.
The pair, who were in second place by just over a point after Friday's short program, dazzled the fans with a stunning program, both technically and artistically, to climb their way to the top with a total score of 232.56 points.
Short program leaders Anastasia Mishina / Aleksandr Galliamov fell back to second place overall, scoring 225.80; Lausanne 2020 Youth Olympic Games champions Apollinariia Panfilova / Dmitry Rylov were third on 210.07.
This was Boikova / Kozlovskii's third Grand Prix win, after also triumphing here and at Skate Canada last year. It was the first appearance at their home Grand Prix for the other two medal-winning pairs, and in Panfilova / Rylov's case their first senior Grand Prix ever.
Only Russian and regional athletes were allowed to compete, to mitigate travel due to the pandemic – six of the seven pairs in this competition represented Russia.
Boikova and Kozlovskii, skating second-to-last to The Writing On The Wall from James Bond, looked confident from first to last on the ice as they put in clean elements – a triple Salchow, triple toe-double toe-double toe combination, triple twist, throw triple flip, and throw triple loop.
"After the short program, we did not analyse too much and separated the short and free skating. They are very different from each other, and for us we just switched our mindset and focussed on the free skate," Kozlovskii said afterwards.
Skating to a Queen medley (Bohemain Rhapsody / We Are The Champions), Mishina and Galliamov were hamstrung by an error on their third element as Mishina popped the final jump of their combination. The pair were marked down on their grade of execution on a triple Salchow-Euler-single Salchow.
"Even a bad experience is an experience, we really wanted to skate clean today - not for the result but for ourselves - unfortunately that didn't happen today but we hope next time we'll be able to skate clean," Mishina said.
The fifth and final stage of the Cup of Russia takes place in Moscow from 5–8 December, with Kostornaia and Tuktamysheva both set to compete in the ladies' and Boikova / Kozlovskii and Panfilova / Rylov listed to take part in pairs.
That is the last chance for skaters to confirm their spots at the Russian national championships, the next major meet for these skaters, from 23–27 December. Those championships, set to be held Chelyabinsk, will be the Russian internal qualifier for the European Championships in January (Zagreb, Croatia), and the Worlds in March (Stockholm, Sweden).
Elsewhere, Olympic silver medallist Evgenia Medvedeva has reportedly tested positive for coronavirus. The skater, who withdrew from the Rostelecom Cup due to a back injury, is quarantining.