Kamila Valieva breaks world record, Nathan Chen wins at Skate Canada

Kamila Valieva at the 2021 Finlandia Trophy on October 10, 2021. (Photo by Heikki Saukkomaa/Lehtikuva/AFP via Getty Images)

At the second stage of this season’s International Skating Union (ISU) Grand Prix series in Vancouver – the 2021 Skate Canada, all of the top favorites in each discipline met expectations and provided a memorable showcase.

In the women’s event, Russians once again swept the podium and – in a high level competition with many different skaters attempting triple axels and delivering clean performances – new free skate and total competition score world records were set.

Leader after the short program, 2020 World Junior champion Kamila Valieva began her free skate program with a successful quad Salchow and then attempted a triple axel, but did land it cleanly. The 15-year-old Russian phenom kept calm and continued earning points by landing a quad toe loop-triple toe loop combination and, following a triple loop, landed another quad – a toe loop in a combination with a Euler and a triple Salchow. Skating to Bolero, Valieva culminated her free skate performance with a triple Lutz. She received a new world record free skate score of 180.89 points and set a new world record total competition score of 265.08 points.

2015 World champion and 2021 World silver medalist Elizaveta Tuktamysheva got off to a fiery start – the 24-year-old Russian landed a triple axel-double toe loop combination and then another triple axel in the following jumping sequence. Skating to a mixture of Arabia by Hanine El Alam and My Love … Music by Artem Uzuno, she later completed a triple Lutz, a triple flip, a double axel-Euler-triple Salchow combination, a triple Lutz-double axel combination, and a triple loop. Tuktamysheva received a free skate score of 151.64 points and a total competition score of 232.88 points. She won the silver medal.

2020 European champion Alena Kostornaia was not fully successful in her triple axel attempt as it was under-rotated, but avoided falling. Skating to Lovely by Billie Eilish, the 18-year-old Russian later completed a triple Lutz-double toe loop combination, a triple loop, and a double axel. Third after the short program, Kostornaia landed a triple flip-triple toe loop combination, a triple flip-Euler-triple Salchow combination, and a triple Lutz in the second half of the routine. She received a score of 138.96 points for the presentation and earned a total competition score of 214.54 points, enough for the bronze medal.

Two-time United States national champion Alysa Liu was fourth after the short program and was in prime position to challenge for the podium. Skating to Violin Concerto by Pyotr Tchaikovsky, the 16-year-old fell on her free skate opening triple axel and did not attempt any quads. The American successfully completed a triple Salchow, a triple loop, a double axel, a triple Lutz-Euler-triple flip combination, a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination, and a triple flip-double axel in a sequence. She received a score of 132.90 points for the performance and earned a total competition score of 206.53 points. She dropped to fifth place overall.

2018 World silver medalist Wakaba Higuchi was another author of a triple axel in the women’s event. The 20-year-old Japanese representative began her free skate with the axel and then completed a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination, a triple Salchow, and a double axel. Skating to music from The Lion King, Higuchi double a Lutz in the second half of the program before completing a triple loop-double toe loop combination and a triple flip-double toe loop-double loop combination. She receive a score of 135.86 points for the performance and earned a total competition score of 205.27 points. She placed sixth.

Japanese figure skater Mana Kawabe was last after the short program and presented her free skate performance first. The 16-year-old, who turns seventeen tomorrow, began her routine with a good triple axel and successfully completed all of her jumps – including a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination, a triple loop, a triple Lutz-double toe loop combination, a double axel-triple toe loop-double toe loop combination, a triple flip, and a triple Salchow. Kawabe received a score of 133.22 points for her free skate presentation and earned a total competition score of 186.52 points. She finished ninth.

Final Results

  1. Kamila VALIEVA (RUS) – 265.08
  2. Elizaveta TUKTAMYSHEVA (RUS) – 232.88
  3. Alena KOSTORNAIA (RUS) – 214.54
  4. Mai MIHARA (JPN) – 210.01
  5. Alysa LIU (USA) – 206.53
  6. Wakaba HIGUCHI (JPN) – 205.27
  7. Haein LEE (KOR) – 190.00
  8. Madeline SCHIZAS (CAN) – 186.56
  9. Mana KAWABE (JPN) – 186.52
  10. Karen CHEN (USA) – 183.41
  11. Emily BAUSBACK (CAN) – 159.88
  12. Alison SCHUMACHER (CAN) – 151.19

Judges’ Scores


Nathan Chen at the 2021 Skate Canada. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/International Skating Union via Getty Images)

Following a bronze medal last week at Skate America in Las Vegas, three-time World champion Nathan Chen redeemed himself with a gold medal this weekend at Skate Canada in Vancouver.

The 22-year-old five-time United States national champion began his free skate performance with a quad Salchow and then a triple Lutz. Chen later landed a quad flip-triple toe loop combination and a triple loop. Skating to music by Mozart, in the second half of the routine he completed a triple axel, a quad toe loop-Euler-triple flip combination, and a quad toe loop-double toe loop combination. Chen received a score of 200.46 points for the performance and earned a total competition score of 307.18 points.

Former U.S. national champion Jason Brown attempted one quad jump – a Salchow, which was downgraded by the judges. He then fell on his next triple axel attempt but completed all of his subsequent jumping sequences. Brown landed a triple axel-double toe loop combination, a triple loop, a triple flip-triple toe loop combination, a triple Lutz-Euler-double Salchow combination, and a triple flip. Skating to Schindler’s List, the 26-year-old American received the third-best score of 165.55 points for the free skate and earned a total competition score of 259.55 points.

Fifth after the short program, Russian figure skater Evgeni Semenenko continued to show future potential in Vancouver. The 18-year-old from St. Petersburg began his free skate routine, to music from The Master and Margarita, with a quad toe loop-double toe loop combination, a quad Salchow, and a solo quad toe loop. Afterwards, Semenenko also completed a triple loop, a triple axel-Euler-triple Salchow, a triple axel, and a triple flip-triple toe loop combination. He received the second highest free skate score of 168.30 points and earned a total competition score of 256.01 points for the bronze medal.

Final Results

  1. Nathan CHEN (USA) – 307.18
  2. Jason BROWN (USA) – 259.55
  3. Evgeni SEMENENKO (RUS) – 256.01
  4. Makar IGNATOV (RUS) – 244.17
  5. Keegan MESSING (CAN) – 238.34
  6. Morisi KVITELASHVILI (GEO) – 232.87
  7. Sota YAMAMOTO (JPN) – 225.74
  8. Alexander SAMARIN (RUS) – 224.20
  9. Conrad ORZEL (CAN) – 222.75
  10. Keiji TANAKA (JPN) – 222.20
  11. Tomoki HIWATASHI (USA) – 221.77
  12. Roman SADOVSKY (CAN) – 217.73

Judges’ Scores


Wenjing Sui and Cong Han at the 2021 Skate Canada. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/International Skating Union via Getty Images)

Having settled for the silver medals at Skate Canada in 2011, 2013, and 2014, Chinese pair Wenjing Sui and Cong Han finally broke through and claimed gold this weekend. The 2018 Olympic silver medalists and two-time World champions topped the standings in both the short program and free skate performances, celebrating the victory by over thirty points.

Skating to Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel, Sui and Han began their free skate routine with the triple twist lift and then completed a side-by-side triple toe loop-double toe loop-double toe loop combination. Later in the program, Sui fell during the side-by-side triple Salchow attempt but successfully landed both triple throws – a flip and a Salchow. They received a score of 145.11 points and earned a total competition score of 224.05 points.

Russia’s representatives Daria Pavliuchenko and Denis Khodykin were not able to complete a clean performance in the free skate and committed too many errors to compete against Sui and Han. Skating to the Black Swan, Pavliuchenko struggled on the opening two side-by-side jumping sequences – under-rotating the second triple toe loop in a combination and then falling on a triple Salchow. She also had to hold herself up on the triple flip throw. Pavliuchenko and Khodykin received the third-best free skate score of 123.62 points and managed to maintain second place from the short program with a total competition result of 193.08 points.

Sixth after the short program, Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy Leduc delivered the second highest scoring free skate performance and moved all the way up to the third podium position for the bronze medals. Cain-Gribble and Leduc lost points on both of their side-by-side jumps – a quarter under-rotated triple loop and the triple Salchow-double toe loop-double loop combination which saw under-rotations on all three jumps. They received a score of 128.22 points for the presentation and earned a total competition score of 189.90 points.

Final Results

  1. Wenjing SUI / Cong HAN (CHN) – 224.05
  2. Daria PAVLIUCHENKO / Denis KHODYKIN (RUS) – 193.08
  3. Ashley CAIN-GRIBBLE / Timothy LEDUC (USA) – 189.90
  4. Vanessa JAMES / Eric RADFORD (CAN) – 187.92
  5. Minerva Fabienne HASE / Nolan SEEGERT (GER) – 186.82
  6. Kirsten MOORE-TOWERS / Michael MARINARO (CAN) – 180.25
  7. Lori-Ann MATTE / Thierry FERLAND (CAN) – 168.81
  8. Zoe JONES / Christopher BOYADJI (GBR) – 134.68

Judges’ Scores


Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier at the 2021 Skate Canada. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/International Skating Union via Getty Images)

In the ice dance discipline, Canada’s Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier were the top favorites to take the victory and did so, defending their Skate Canada title from 2019 – as last year’s edition of the competition was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. Skating to The Long and Winding Road by The Beatles, the 2021 World bronze medalists received a score of 125.32 points for their free dance program. Gilles and Poirier earned a total competition score of 210.97 points.

Presenting their free dance performance to a mixture of Atonement by Dario Marianelli and Song For The Little Sparrow by Abel Korzeniowski, Italy’s 2019 European bronze medalists Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri received a score of 121.23 points for their presentation. They earned a total competition score of 200.05 points and won second place.

Skating to music from The Mask of Zorro, Spain’s Olivia Smart and Adrian Diaz received a score of 115.96 points for the free dance and earned a total competition score of 192.93 points for the bronze medals.

Final Results

  1. Piper GILLES / Paul POIRIER (CAN) – 210.97
  2. Charlene GUIGNARD / Marco FABBRI (ITA) – 200.05
  3. Olivia SMART / Adrian DIAZ (ESP) – 192.93
  4. Caroline GREEN / Michael PARSONS (USA) – 186.51
  5. Diana DAVIS / Gleb SMOLKIN (RUS) – 180.57
  6. Marjorie LAJOIE / Zachary LAGHA (CAN) – 179.07
  7. Lilah FEAR / Lewis GIBSON (GBR) – 178.08
  8. Christina CARREIRA / Anthony PONOMARENKO (USA) – 168.76
  9. Elizaveta SHANAEVA / Devid NARYZHNYY (RUS) – 160.66
  10. Haley SALES / Nikolas WAMSTEEKER (CAN) – 156.56

Judges’ Scores

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