Anna Shcherbakova leads at Worlds after short program

The 2021 World Figure Skating Championships began in Stockholm this week and the first competitions got underway today. A highly anticipated ladies’ short program event opened the competition with a very strong and competitive field of athletes. Leader heading into the free skate is Anna Shcherbakova.

Three-time Russian national champion Shcherbakova is among the favorites to win the World Championships this year and she proved that with a great short program performance. Skating to Elegie: O Doux printemps d’autrefois, the 16-year-old landed her opening double axel and then followed that up with a triple flip. Shcherbakova completed a triple Lutz-triple loop combination, which has a base value of 11.88 points – the highest value for a combination among all of the other ladies in the competition. Eteri Tutberidze’s skater received 43.86 points for technical elements and the highest overall program component score of 37.14 points for a total short program score of 81.00 points.

Two-time Japanese national champion Rika Kihira delivered a powerful and exciting performance, landing a triple axel in the beginning and doing a cartwheel in the end. Unfortunately, the judges marked a quarter under-rotation on the triple axel attempt and then the same on her triple flip-triple toe loop combination. The 18-year-old landed a triple Lutz in her last jumping sequence. Kihira earned 43.68 points for technical elements and 35.40 points for program components, adding up to a total score of 79.08 points. The Japanese skater, who has recently been training in Switzerland with Stephane Lambiel, is currently second.

Returning to the World Championships for the first time since winning the competition in 2015, 24-year-old Elizaveta Tuktamysheva had a good day and performed an inspiring routine. The skater from Russia landed a clean triple axel to begin her short program and added a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination and later a triple flip. Alexei Mishin’s student received the highest overall technical score of 44.39 points but earned the fourth highest program component score of 34.47 points. Her total score of 78.86 points puts her currently in third place.

Former Olympian and bronze medalist at this season’s U.S. nationals, 21-year-old Karen Chen was the top American in the short program and one of the bigger pleasant surprises. Skating to Katy Perry’s Rise, Chen began her short program with a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination. Her next two jumping sequences were the double axel and a triple loop. The 2017 U.S. national champion was one of only five ladies with a technical score in the forties, earning 40.88 points, and she received 33.52 points for program components. Chen’s overall score of 74.40 points has her in fourth position at the moment.

Among the unfortunate surprises, two-time World Junior champion Alexandra Trusova only ended up in twelfth place. One of the top favorites to not only medal but win the competition, the 16-year-old Russian opted for a double axel instead of a triple and then did not execute a combination in her final jumping sequence. Trusova received the third largest program component score of 34.48 points but her overall short program score of 64.82 points puts her in the middle of the standings among the twenty four ladies that qualified for the free skate. In her free skate, Trusova could possibly attempt up to five quad jumps.

Switzerland’s Alexia Paganini might have been the most unexpected skater to not qualify for the free skate. She was twenty fifth – just one position lower than needed. The U.S.-born 19-year-old received a negative grade of execution on her opening triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination and then received 0 points for her final triple loop as an invalid element because one of the solo jumps has to be a triple. Paganini received 57.23 points.

France’s Mae Berenice Meite was forced to withdraw from the competition just moments after starting her short program performance because of an injury on her opening triple toe loop attempt. The French Federation of Ice Sports later updated that Meite suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon.

Judges’ scores for the short program can be found here.

Results after the short program:

  1. Anna SHCHERBAKOVA (Figure Skating Federation of Russia) – 81.00
  2. Rika KIHIRA (Japan) – 79.08
  3. Elizaveta TUKTAMYSHEVA (Figure Skating Federation of Russia) – 78.86
  4. Karen CHEN (United States) – 74.40
  5. Yelim KIM (South Korea) – 73.63
  6. Kaori SAKAMOTO (Japan) – 70.38
  7. Bradie TENNELL (United States) – 69.87
  8. Haein LEE (South Korea) – 68.94
  9. Madeline SCHIZAS (Canada) – 68.77
  10. Loena HENDRICKX (Belgium) – 67.28
  11. Olga MIKUTINA (Austria) – 67.18
  12. Alexandra TRUSOVA (Figure Skating Federation of Russia) – 64.82
  13. Ekaterina RYABOVA (Azerbaijan) – 64.11
  14. Jenni SAARINEN (Finland) – 63.54
  15. Josefin TALJEGARD (Sweden) – 61.58
  16. Satoko MIYAHARA (Japan) – 59.99
  17. Alexandra FEIGIN (Bulgaria) – 59.97
  18. Alina URUSHADZE (Georgia) – 59.89
  19. Eva-Lotta KIIBUS (Estonia) – 59.65
  20. Nicole SCHOTT (Germany) – 59.09
  21. Eliska BREZINOVA (Czech Republic) – 58.81
  22. Hongyi CHEN (China) – 58.81
  23. Natasha MCKAY (Great Britain) – 58.15
  24. Lindsay VAN ZUNDERT (Netherlands) – 57.72

Did not advance to free skate:

  1. Alexia PAGANINI (Switzerland) – 57.23
  2. Kailani CRAINE (Australia) – 56.86
  3. Emily BAUSBACK (Canada) – 55.74
  4. Lara Naki GUTMANN (Italy) – 55.64
  5. Emmy MA (Chinese Taipei) – 55.63
  6. Julia LANG (Hungary) – 54.20
  7. Nelli IOFFE (Israel) – 52.43
  8. Ekaterina KURAKOVA (Poland) – 52.28
  9. Angelina KUCHVALSKA (Latvia) – 47.94
  10. Dasa GRM (Slovenia) – 47.76
  11. Anastasiia ARKHIPOVA (Ukraine) – 45.07
  12. Emilea ZINGAS (Cyprus) – 43.20
  13. Elzbieta KROPA (Lithuania) – 41.31

WD – Mae Berenice MEITE (France) – suffered injury on ice at beginning of performance
WD – Yi Christy LEUNG (Hong Kong) – suffered injury in practice before competition

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