The 2017/2018 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating got under way this weekend in Moscow, Russia with the Rostelecom Cup and two skating powerhouse nations divided the titles between them.
Nathan Chen caused a small upset in claiming his first Grand Prix title. After a somewhat disappointing disappointing sixth place finish at the World Championships in March, the American clearly felt like he had something to prove and kept his errors to a minimum in both segments. The only costly flaw he made occurred midway through his free skating routine when he doubled a toe loop and then had the second part of a triple Axel-double toe loop combination invalidated because it was his third double toe loop of the programme. Despite finishing second in the free, Chen hung on to win with a total of 293.79.
Hundreds of fans had travelled to see Yuzuru Hanyu compete in Moscow. Unfortunately, things did not get off to a good start for the reigning Olympic champion and he stepped out of a quadruple loop and fell on the back end of a quadruple toe-triple toe combination in the short programme. In the free, he landed a quad Lutz for the first time in competition and won that portion of the event with a solid skate to finish second overall on 290.77.
Local boy Mikhail Kolyada pulled up from fourth after the short to pick up the bronze, his first Grand Prix medal of any colour.
Evgenia Medvedeva’s competition ended in both uncharacteristic and familiar fashion. Uncharacteristic in that she fell on a jump, a relatively easy double Axel. Familiar in that she still sailed to victory with an impressive total score of 231.21, which was over 15 points higher than the next skater. Stranger things have happened, but even at this early stage of the season it is hard to see past the two-time World champion for gold in Korea next February.
There are not many skaters over 30 competing in singles, but Carolina Kostner is proving that her age is not an issue when it comes to winning medals. The 2012 World champion skated cleanly in both the short and the free to amass 215.98, just shy of what she achieved when she secured Olympic bronze in Sochi. This was the Italian’s first Grand Prix medal since another silver at Rostelecom Cup in 2013.
Japan’s Wakaba Higuchi set her stall out as a potential pick for one of her country’s two coveted Olympic spots with fine performances in the short and free on her way to Rostelecom Cup bronze.
Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morosov were emphatic winners of the pairs event as they led Russia to a clean sweep of the podium. The European champions’ free skate score of 147.37 was a new personal best. Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov bagged silver with Kristina Astakhova and Alexei Rogonov earning bronze.
In ice dance, Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani got their season off to a winning start. The two-time U.S. champions were skating for the first time at Rostelecom Cup since 2012 when they had finished off the podium in fourth. The Americans may have faced a stiffer challenge had Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev not botched their dance spin in their free routine. The 2013 European champions wound up second. Russia received another medal thanks to Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin who came third.