A golden (s)quad at 2019 Rostelecom Cup. The photo-story of the 5th GP event

Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii, Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov, Alexandra Trusova, Alexander Samarin – the gold medal winners at 2019 Rostelecom Cup in Moscow

With 8 medals won out of the possible 12 (and 4 gold medals out of 4), Russia triumphed at this year’s edition of Rostelecom Cup – and, let us tell you, some of our highlights have been the skaters of St. Petersburg: Makar Ignatov, Dmitri Aliev and, above all, the stunning pair skaters Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii.

And here’s a thought: why not have an edition (or more) of Rostelecom Cup in Saint Petersburg in the next years? The skaters, the skating schools there, the overall talent in the city and the fans surely deserve it.

The last time the Russian Grand Prix event was hosted by St. Petersburg, under the name of Cup of Russia, was in 2005, with Evgeni Plushenko, Irina Slutskaya, Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin, Tatiana Navka and Roman Kostomarov winning the gold in their events.

Our photo-recap of this year’s edition starts with Makar Ignatov, the overall revelation of 2019 Rostelecom Cup, and ends (appropriately) with Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii.

by Florentina Tone

A flying Makar Ignatov on the ice of Megasport Palace in Moscow. So soft, so elegant – yet so powerful. Two quads in his Grand Prix debut, and a short program that he can definitely be proud of. Glorious start of this year’s edition of Rostelecom Cup.


This was the second “Blues for Klook” of the day, as skated by Nam Nguyen in Moscow, and Nam “wore” the music as a warm, comfortable jacket – he made it his. And we love this new, improved version of Nam – he looks so relaxed this season.


A soothing skate at first, and then it came the storm, the explosion, in Deniss Vasiljevs short program to “Bloodstream” – and this music suits him beautifully. And he feels at home in Moscow – have you heard the cheers? – and he is happy with that skate.

We love the first part, and we have a feeling he loves the second one even more. And the musical choice is so fresh, so him.


“Sasha, davai!”, a kid shouts just before Alexander Samarin starts his “Blues for Klook” short program, and you can sense he is nervous. But he jumps a glorious quad Lutz-triple Toeloop, and then he fights for the quad Flip. The Axel is rather approximate as well – so this is clearly not the best SP Alexander can show. Still, the base value of the elements put him above Makar Ignatov, who was way smoother in his performance. And the Program Components had a say in this as well.


Shoma Uno spent the two weeks going into Rostelecom Cup at Stéphane Lambiel’s skating school in Champèry. And his skate in Moscow had a certain air of confidence, one that was clearly missing in Grenoble. He didn’t feel alone anymore – the entire weight of the world was not on his shoulders (anymore).

That weight aside, he could perform – and he was ready for it; you could see it from the very first moment. A dove splinting the sky.

And apart from the quad Flip – it was not a good day for quad Flip jumps in Moscow – Shoma brought the house down, jumped into the air for the quad Toe-double Toe and offered the audience a flying triple Axel (he still got it). And he even had the time to catch his breath, and punctuate the moves before the step sequence, which was fire.

In the background, an enthusiastic Stéphane Lambiel kept clapping, and Shoma took a deep breath at the end. And Stéphane greeted him smilingly at the boards – and encouragingly as well: “Flip was good – Flip was good, but a bit slow”.

And then: “Your season best is 79, I think you will get higher than this”.

And they both laughed in the Kiss and Cry – and they both looked relieved. And so were we.


A chorus of “Molodets!” follows Dmitri Aliev’s short program in Rostelecom Cup, as if it were a trace, a “tail” of gratitude and joy, an exchange of energies from him to us, from us to him.

Because that was a beautiful skate from Dmitri, in spite of him tripling the opening quad Lutz planned. No interruptions there whatsoever, the quad Toe, the Axel flowing one from the other – exactly as Dmitri wants his performances to be, not puddles, but flowing rivers.

And he is the very definition of elegance, he is, we could watch him all day – and, in a future life, we want to be Dmitri Aliev’s arms.

In the Kiss and Cry, he sends greetings to all his dear ones at home, “Mamulea, papulea, babulea…”


Thoughts after men SP: Alexander Samarin won the short program in Moscow, at this year’s edition of Rostelecom Cup, but our highlights have definitely been Dmitri Aliev and Makar Ignatov – training mates in St. Petersburg and students of Evgeni Rukavicin. Makar, in particular, has been amazing in his Grand Prix debut.


Sara Hurtado and Kirill Khaliavin, as if they were skating through butter at Rostelecom Cup.

We love this red, smooth, buttery rhythm dance of theirs, to “Hello, Dolly”, to the wonderful voices of Barbara Streisand and Frank Sinatra. And those arms of Sara? A joy. A little glitch on the Finnstep, but it didn’t take away from the beauty of the dance.

Eyes are happy watching them skate – Sara and Kirill are so elegant and they compliment each other beautifully.


Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier’s rhythm dance is so wonderfully detailed, so intricate and so joyous. Plus: so contagious. We’re under their spell, and we don’t even want to blink – not to miss any of the action on the ice. And they look so confident, so secure – we love this new face of them.

“Really good components”, Paul says while looking at their scores. And so well deserved: their RD this season is a bubble of joy and they are magnificent performers. From movements to costumes, Piper and Paul were spot on. Our highlight of the afternoon.

And we do have a soft spot for the music choice as well – we kept mumbling “Tap your troubles awaaaay” for days on end.


It rained with cheers, with enthusiasm over Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov at the end of their blue, flowing dance to “Singing’ in the Rain”. So light, so free, so at ease – we love to see them skate like that.

And even though, composition-wise, we might not be as impressed as we are with other rhythm dances this season, as we were with Victoria and Nikita’s tango last season, this was still a beautiful, flowing skate, under the rain of cheers and the applause. They have the speed, the power, the finesse.

They’re glued, and they’re good.


Alexandra Trusova had to (re)find her focus after that fluke fall just before the start – and the music helped her build and build throughout the program.

She looked a bit behind it here and there – she skates to music from “Peer Gynt” by Edvard Grieg – but what a skater she is, on warrior-mode in the second part. And, with her, the best is yet to come – you feel that, the way she skates gives you this confidence, this certainty.

Daniil with the bear


Stéphane Lambiel choreographed such a magnificent short program for Yuna Shiraiwa this season – to “Concertino Bianco for Piano in C Major” by Georg Pelecis – and we love it, and we love her to the moon and back.

And Stéphane will also give her (good) advice in the Kiss and Cry, given her mistake on the opening triple Lutz: “Too much force on the triple Lutz – you have to do the triple Lutz AND the triple Toe together”.

One thing is sure though: so much flow and effortlessness – Yuna Shiraiwa is a joy to the eyes.


This music – “Exogenesis Symphony Part 3” by Muse – allows Evgenia Medvedeva to breathe. And she does just that, she breathes, she lives the music, and her skating has never looked more beautiful, more complete. She is relieved, we are relieved. And Brian Orser trusts his fist in the air here and there during her skate.

“Finally”, she says when leaving the ice. “Finally”.

And she receives yellow stars in return. Many of them. And we are thrilled for her, we are.

And the audience screams “Molodets, molodets”, and Evgenia smiles, her arms full of red roses.


Toeloop? What Toeloop? Mariah Bell’s short program, choreographed by Adam Rippon, has fantastic energy – and she didn’t let the program escape her not even for a second. And she has just the right attitude to make this work.

Clearly disappointed at the end, with her mistake on the combination – but that skate was fire.


Satoko Miyahara can sell anything – she can take any music, any program, and “wear” it as if it had been hers since forever.

That said, this Egyptian disco program is a challenge, she acknowledged that herself – you just have to be spot on and really use all the energy you have. And she did just that while skating it in Moscow.


Thoughts after Ladies SP: Evgenia Medvedeva wins the short program in Moscow, over Alexandra Trusova and Mariah Bell, and this intermediate victory is surely rewarding – after all those months and months of efforts put into the change. And we are happy for her.


How appropriate is to skate to “Rebirth”: Ksenia Stolbova came back to the World stage, alongside Andrei Novoselov, and we’re thrilled that she did. Apart from the double Toe from Andrei, that was a very good debut-skate for them in Moscow.


What a beautiful, blue, emotional skate from Minerva Fabienne Hase and Nolan Seegert in Moscow, at 2019 Rostelecom Cup. They look absolutely thrilled while leaving the ice.


Spellbound with these two, their unison, their joy, their enthusiasm. Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii are the real deal, they are.

And we’re relieved that fluke fall from Dmitrii in the warm-up didn’t affect them after all (they both looked very worried, she looked very worried, when it happened).

Still, you didn’t see any sign of it during their skate, their peach-beautiful skate to “My Way”.

A big skate, followed by a big score – and Tamara Moskvina’s arms are in the air.

And that was clearly St. Petersburg’s Day in Moscow, with Makar Ignatov, Dmitri Aliev, Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii having all wonderful skates at Rostelecom Cup.


Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov looked way sharper, way confident than in their previous Grand Prix event. This music, “Bolero”, grows on them, this program grows on us. They seem on the right track, definitely more relaxed than in Kelowna.

Nina Mozer is with them as well – and that clearly had a say in their mindset here in Moscow.


We’re absolutely amazed with the qualities of Vladimir Litvintsev’s skating. A flowing, beautiful long program to “Hallelujah”, to begin the men’s free skate in Moscow, at 2019 Rostelecom Cup. So much talent.


Committing to the music, to the theme, to Moulin Rouge? Kazuki Tomono does that to the fullest – and we love his passion, his enthusiasm, his dedication. This program becomes a second layer of skin. And have you seen those arms of his? So elegant. The step sequence? So into it.

And we remembered we used to love this music – Kazuki made us remember that.


Shoma Uno’s programs this season are the exact image of the season so far. You had him doubting at the start, to the point where he doesn’t even attempt a jump, and then you find him with renewed confidence. The thing with him is that we’re sure he’ll find his confidence along the way.

This is a transitional time to something better, we don’t even doubt that.


…as if he were a bird on the sky of Moscow – Deniss Vasiljevs embraced the music, he literally did that, and the music responded the embrace. It’s such a joy to see a skater fully there, 100 percent in the program, and with Deniss it is always like that.


Let it be written: this is a statement of love to the talent that Dmitri Aliev is – he becomes one with the music, and keeps you glued from the first second to the very end. He made some changes all along the way in his “Sound of Silence” free skate, but that was incredibly beautiful to watch.

And silence, what silence? People love him here in Moscow.


The height of Makar Ignatov’s jumps? Oh my, he trusts in the air with so much confidence.

No power left in the tank in the last part of the program, but what an effort – Makar has been our revelation at this year’s edition of Rostelecom Cup.

And Evgeni Rukavicin is surely a happy coach right now – he has gold in his hands, with both Dmitri Aliev and Makar Ignatov.


Alexander Samarin started in full force his free skate in Moscow, flying up in the sky with his quad Lutz-triple Toe combination, he then had to fight for some landings, but you knew he was going to give it all, try it all – that’s the kind of skater he is.

The way we see it though, and as an overall image, Alexander’s long program looked more like a fight than as a homogeneous story. It didn’t have the flow one wishes from a program, especially a winning one – it was rather made of disconnected parts, especially in those areas where he had to fight to stay on his feet. So he’ll need to put on extra work in this area in particular – keeping the flow of the skate – in his future events.


Strike a pose: Dmitri, Alexander, Makar having fun after the free skate


We’re in love with the softness in the second part of Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov’s free dance (the part skated to “Songs My Mother Taught Me” by Antonín Dvořák) – but the truth is the whole program is a joy to the eyes. And so much better already, in terms of performance, from their first GP event in Chongqing.

The music choice favors their lines, their elegance, it highlights their qualities.


Allow us to tell you that we are moved to tears with Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier’s free dance this season. This journey into life, with good and bad, and contrasting emotions – they embody it to the fullest, wearing their hearts on their sleeves.

With them, ice dance feels authentic, feels genuine, nothing is forced. With them, what you see is what you feel – and we thank them for the emotions.

And we’re stunned with their fluidity, with them as narrators.

Seeing the scores, Piper is thrilled – and so are we: “We’re going to the Final! We’re going to the Final!”


The white bird. The black bird.

We’re flying with Sara Hurtado and Kirill Khaliavin – we are moved by them, their dance, their feathers in the sky.

On a more subjective note, we have always been impressed with Antonio Najarro’s choreographies, but this one is an absolute gem. And Sara and Kirill are marvelous interpreters.

Let it remain written: composition-wise, music-wise, we love this dance to the sky and back.


Strike a pose – three free dances in one picture, each with its own charm, own character.


Satoko Miyahara, casting away the clouds, to find the light. And she does find the light – because that’s the kind of skater she is.

Jumps or no jumps, we are blessed to have Satoko in our lives.

And this free skate is like a candle – the search for humanity into our souls.


We find ourselves particularly attached to Evgenia Medvedeva’s journey, to her continuous quest to improvement. And her progress – in terms of speed, in terms of skating skills, in terms of overall performance – is obvious, for everyone to see it.

And “Memoirs of a Geisha” was a stunning free skate from Evgenia in Moscow, a redemptory skate.

Her head on Brian’s shoulder (“I’m tired”, she says smiling), you know she’s in the best possible place in order to continue her skating journey.


Just this: watching Mariah Bell skate her long program in Moscow it’s so very obvious she loves skating to “Hallelujah”, she loves skating overall.

And it’s a pure joy watching her fly.


A supportive voice from the audience shouts – and Sasha is on fight-mode, especially after falling on the quad Salchow in the debut of her program.

And Alexandra Trusova is a remarkable athlete, she is, but, with the big jumps she follows, the program lacks the overall cohesion. Still, her efforts are more than commendable – and she makes history going after the big jumps, and landing them.

And she proves tons of character, on and off the ice.

And Daniil in the Kiss and Cry is right – five out of six Grand Prix gold medals go into their camp.


Ksenia Stolbova and Andrei Novoselov: so pleasing to the eyes, especially when skating to this modern version of “Moonlight Sonata”. They really are a well-matched pair – and they need to remember, and we need to remember, this is only the beginning of their journey. They need time – and, above all, they need to be patient with one another.

And Ksenia seems so happy to come back to major competitions, to skating overall.


Minerva Fabienne Hase and Nolan Seegert: that was a courageous skate from them at 2019 Rostelecom Cup – and it might just have them on the podium here, in Moscow.

True that – this is the first Grand Prix medal of their career.


We are so intrigued with this version of “Ti Amo” for Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov – sometimes we feel that is working, sometimes, that is not. One thing is sure though: these two are so incredibly gifted for pair skating, and some of their elements are text-book elements.

They just need to work (a bit more) on their connection with the program, with themselves.


Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii: their skating is grand. And so are their elements. And “the writing is on the wall”: this right here is the best pair that Russia has at the moment. Plus: they are hungry for more and, no doubt, looking for all the podiums they can get this season.

And that was a stunning skate in Rostelecom Cup, perfect and all. A World-level skate.

And they’re not aspiring to enter the pairs’ elite – they are now a part of it.

[stories by Florentina Tone/photos by Natasha Ponarina, Moscow]


What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas? The highlights of 2019 Skate America

2019 Skate Canada: quad-queen Alexandra Trusova debuts with a bang

One, two, three, bend! One, two, three, stretch! A (photo) journey into 2019 Internationaux de France

Hot & spicy skating in Chongqing, at 2019 Cup of China. Plus: the emotional comeback of Han Yan