Maxim Kovtun: this young man really wants that single Olympic berth of Russia in the men’s event

Maxim Kovtun, at the 2013 European Figure Skating Champioships in Zagreb (in the back: Tatiana Tarasova and Elena Buianova)

Maxim Kovtun, at the 2013 European Figure Skating Champioships in Zagreb (in the back: Tatiana Tarasova and Elena Buianova)

The short programs’ day at Cup of China witnessed a phenomenal performance of the 18-year-old Maxim Kovtun of Russia: a quad Salchow-triple Toe Loop combination, another quad, a Toe Loop, and an exquisite triple Axel. All in all, a wonderful and courageous flamenco routine coming from Maxim (including also a surprising stumble and fall…). With 81.84 points (I could have sworn he would receive more), the Russian is second after the short program, showing a lot of determination: Russia has only one berth in the Olympic men’s event in Sochi and Maxim definitely wants that place.

by Florentina Tone

First after the short is the young Chinese Han Yan, after a stunning performance including a triple Axel, a quad Toe Loop and a triple Lutz-triple Toe Loop combination. His scores really went through the roof – 90.14 points – and, finally, the people in Capital Indoor Stadium in Beijing started to applaud (until then it was quiet, really quiet). This boy is truly talented, that’s for sure; and I can’t wait to see him live in Paris, two weeks from now.

As for the Japanese Takahiko Kozuka, third after the short, great speed, great step sequences, difficult program. Takahiko wasn’t perfect, but his quality of skating is something to be reckoned with.

This year’s World silver medalist, Denis Ten, was not on his best day at Cup of China; but his program, though not yet polished, could definitely transform itself into a masterpiece during the season. I love the choice of the music, Yuna’s music: “Danse macabre” by Camille Saint-Saëns. And I love the constant support coming from Mr. Frank Carroll; they seem to have a wonderful bond. On the Kiss and Cry bench, Denis talked about the fact that he wasn’t feeling strong enough for this (and by this he probably meant Cup of China). Mr. Carroll added (and Denis nodded): “The Chinese boy was very good”. Denis is fourth after the short.