We are now 4 1/2 Grand Prix events into the series. And as we are halfway through the 2015 Rostelecom Cup, one thing to note is that this season's storylines have developed to a point where we are able to comment on trajectories now. The short programs during the first day of competition saw a lot of redemption, some expected and some completely out of left field.
#CoR15 Day 1: Videos/Results
For me, the three most unexpected surprises so far:
- Russia's Adian Pitkeev and American Ross Miner in the top three after the men's short program
- Canada's Alaine Chartrand in second after the short program in the ladies' event
- Victoria Sinitsina/Nikita Katsalapov leading Elena Ilinykh/Ruslan Zhiganshin by over nine points after the short dance
In the men's event, everyone expected heavy favorite Javier Fernandez to be leading comfortably. Instead, he tripled his quad salchow and fought through his lutz combo to sit in second, trailing Pitkeev by 0.55. Pitkeev was spectacular, skating a clean short to score a personal best. I had a hunch that this might be a breakthrough kind of competition for him. And so far, so good.
And what about Miner? He's gone from U.S. silver medalist to a skater on the fringe during the past few seasons. It was great to see him shine again, but at the same time, a quadless short program that scores over 85 points - that's a statement.
For Chartrand, anything would be better than her free skate performance at Skate America, where she finished 12th out of 12. And resilient as she is, she came back with a career-best clean short program that propelled her into the medal conversation in this ridiculously deep field of ladies.
And in dance, the saga that is Sinitsina/Katsalapov vs. Ilinykh/Zhiganshin, all of whom skated with the other team's partners just two seasons ago, continues. But whereas Ilinykh/Zhiganshin had the upper hand last season, it looks like Sinitsina/Katsalapov might have made some strides. Zhiganshin's fall during their twizzle sequence didn't help either.
There was some redemption that was somewhat expected. Elena Radionova gave a rousing performance in her short program, after which she was overcome with emotion. On the surface, you wonder why a short program at a Grand Prix event meant that much. But when you take into account the fact that she's just not used to making mistakes and this season has been mistake central for her, you get why she feels like she had something to prove.
Similarly, Ksenia Stolbova/Fedor Klimov looked like a completely different pair than the uninspired one we saw at Skate America, where they finished off the podium. This is a pair who has won an individual Olympic medal, so it's great to see them come back with confidence. The question remains whether or not they can withstand the barrage of quads in the free skate from other teams.