Episode 22: Russian Nationals 2019 - Transcript


Yogeeta: You're In The Loop - we're here to discuss the ups, downs and sideways of the sport of figure skating, and maybe give you +5 GOE along the way. Let’s introduce this week's hosts. Hi, I’m Yogeeta and I hope that all of our listeners had a happy holiday! You can find me on Twitter @liliorum.

Nina: Hey, I’m Nina and I hope Nationals weren’t too stressful for you guys over the holidays! You can find me on Twitter @yonkaitenpooh.

Kite: Hi, I’m Kite and I want to wish you all a Happy New Year! I’m in Twitter @mossyzinc.

Sam: And I’m Sam! I hope everyone had an awesome holiday season, and that that carries over into the New Year for you all. You can follow me @quadlutze with an e for edge call on Twitter.

Sam: Alright! Some news for all of y'all. Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland announced their engagement. Obviously, we want to extend our warmest congratulations to them. Hoping to see them back competing soon too, next season maybe? But yeah, that's always nice to have some happy news to start it off. In some not so happy news, [Natalia] Zabiiako and [Alexander] Enbert have pulled out of Euros because of an unspecified illness.

Yogeeta: Continuing in some sad news, Kevin Reynolds of Canada has announced his retirement from skating. He hasn't had the best season, but he did have some great skates last season. So, we're wishing him the best. And Gabrielle Daleman of Canada is returning for Canadian Nationals. Hopefully, we'll be able to see her return soon and that it goes well.

Kite: In more news, and a bit of a content warning for those people who might be sensitive, the Denis Ten murder case has been expanded to investigate the possibility of assassination. This is news that we got from Kazakh news sources in the past week so we will all be waiting, of course, to see how that pans out.

In much happier news, Chinese Nationals happened over the past few days. The champions of Chinese Nationals: in Men's Jin Boyang, who finally skated a clean Free Skate after having a pretty tough season, and broke 300 in the total score. In Ladies, Yi Christy Leung of Hong Kong, in Pairs, Peng Cheng and Jin Yang, and then in Ice Dance, Wang Shiyue and Liu Xinyu. And also, for Pairs enthusiasts out there, Olympic silver medalists Sui Wenjing and Han Cong have returned to competition. They were out because Wenjing had a recurring ankle slash foot injury and they were not competing on the Grand Prix this season and they only competed in the Short Program [here]. But it does sound like they will be going to Four Continents and, possibly, Worlds in the spring. So, very exciting to see them back in competition.

Nina: And also, Carolina Kostner of Italy is not totally recovered from her fall yet, and so she will not be competing at Euros. We publish a weekly roundup of news stories you might have missed during the week on our website. Just go to inthelopodcast.com and you’ll find all our articles there.

-end segment- 3:15

START: Pairs

Sam: To start off our coverage this week, we're going to be talking about Russian Nationals. In Pairs, our first place team were Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, in second were Natalia Zabiiako and Alexander Enbert, and in third were Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii. All of them showcased an absolute masterclass in Pairs technique, that's hard to duplicate at Worlds in their Free Skates. Tarasova and Morozov were by far the highlight, after skating clean for maybe the first time ever in their Senior career. It's really hard to think of one where they were like totally perfect, and they were that day. But they proved what a lot of us have been saying for a while, they should honestly be the number one Pair team in the world, they have easily the best elements of anybody out there. But the Seniors weren't the only ones to step up, Pairs like Mishina/Galliamov had their say too. From top to bottom it was obvious that Russia has the deepest Pairs field in the world, and it's not even really close. It's honestly a shame that they all can't go compete at their respective Worlds, kind of like the Japanese Ladies. I wasn't particularly a fan of all of their programs, pretty few of them if I'm being completely honest. But, going back to saying that Tarasova and Morozov should be the number one Pair team in the world, people say "Well yeah, but they shouldn't be getting as high PCS as Sui and Han or James and Cipres," but it's important to point out that most PCS categories aren't actually tied to your personal taste in the program. Things like Skating Skills, Transitions, and Composition don't all encompass that. So the combination of their elements being +5 GOE automatically throw it at them when they do things right, plus having insanely good basics all combines to if they skate clean, they should probably win most of the time. For me, I think the most interesting thing was Tarasova and Morozov skating clean. You might want to point out and be like "Well yeah, it's Nationals, it should be not as stressful," but I don't really think that's the case at this Nationals. I don't think it's any less stressful for them to have a Zabiiako and Enbert not that far behind them, when they're also skating clean in their Short Program, to then go into a Free Skate being the first to skate in that last final three and knowing you have to knock it out of the park, because if you falter another team could take over and surpass you. So I don't know if that's necessarily the case, that it was less stressful for them, but I'm hoping, like I said, that this is a turnaround and they have more success, in the Free Skate especially internationally. Finally, after this very long monologue, I just want to say to everybody out there - can we please get [Tamara] Moskvina a box so she can see over the boards? Please, she's like barely covering it, with her head barely over the boards. For those who don't know, she is a famous Pair coach. She was Boikova and Kozlovskii's coach. She had some of the other Junior Pairs. She was that little tiny woman who literally was like just barely peeking over. Can we just get her something so she can see? Thanks.

(hosts laugh)

Nina: I'm just picturing like a very old flower girl.

Sam: She's basically is their height - she might even be shorter!

Yogeeta: I will say, just for upcoming Euros, both James and Cipres, and Tarasova and Morozov skated their best Free Skates of the season at their Nationals, so I'm interested to see how their second matchup is going to look like at Europeans.

-end segment- 6:42


Nina: We also had the Men skate. For the gold medal, we had Maxim Kovtun. For the silver medal, we had Mikhail Kolyada. And the bronze medal went to Alexander Samarin.

Kite: I've been endlessly amused for the past week that Russia's top two men are both skating to "Carmen" this season. And even more so that they're good "Carmen's."

Yogeeta: It's battle of the "Carmen's" the sequel, Kite.

Sam: And they're such different "Carmen's" too because Mikhail has like the traditional Men's "Carmen" where he's super grounded and skating with strength and power. And then you have Maxim, where they're using "Habanera," which is like the woman's aria, being his sexy self - his gender doesn't exist, Y'all. And it's just like yes, please, give us everything you possibly can in two separate ways. Honestly, I'm shocked that I like both of them because I'm a notorious "Carmen" hater and I don't want anything to do with it most of the time.

Nina: But like, Maxim's was really fun!

Sam: Yeah! Especially at the end when he's coming out of the Euler combo and he starts dramatically running it's like yes, this is the stuff I want.

Kite: Yeah, that was my favorite part of it. But it was just really good to see him back in competition, I think, because he's been gone for so long. He was out with injury for a long time and then never really just picked up the momentum that he had a couple of years ago when he was a rising Senior. And it was just super nice to see him have really solid skates here and take back the Russian title. And like Sam said, especially the final choreographic sequence in the Free Skate, where the music starts building and his footwork starts building and he's using his toepicks to run across the ice - so good. And he has his quads back, and they look really good too.

Nina: His quads are so big, and he snaps into rotation super fast.

Sam: Yeah, he obviously had a little bit of an issue with the toe in the Free Skate. He slipped and was completely outside the circle when he was up in the air, which is why he that full body fall. But both of the Salchows were really good and I love the placement of them. The first one being on the obvious subtle note, and then the second one being on the offbeat of the chime, so he's landing it with the run of the note, and I love stuff like that and it was just A+.

Yogeeta: I really like the Short Program too. It was such a fun program, and you could tell that he really enjoyed it. I rewatched that step sequence in the Short like twenty times, it was so perfectly choreographed to the music. He hits every musical accent, and when nobody usually hits their musical accents, it's very noticeable to me when someone's actually choreographing to try and do that. And for me it didn't feel like he was overperforming, he definitely knew how to sell that program just right and I was so happy to see him come back and do so well here.

Sam: Yeah, and it's especially interesting cause Max was never the guy you would point to and be like "He listens to his music." He was like the quirky Russian with the "I Can't Dance" program that you're like "What is this?" Or the hitchhiker program, where you're like "This is kind of weird but I'm into it." But it wasn't like "Yeah, this guy, he's got all the bits top to bottom." Where like these two programs are choreographed in a way that they really make him shine in ways you haven't seen before, and I really like them both.

Nina: That's why good choreography is important. It can showcase a skater's elements you didn't realize they had.

Kite: Hopefully this will be a big boost for his confidence, and his reputation too going into Euros. And hopefully, Worlds, if he does well at Euros.

Nina: Speaking of other men who did well when it counted, Mikhail Kolyada. I'm glad that he lived.

Kite: He did, he did live considering the fact that he has had sinusitis all season apparently and couldn't even start training until the Thursday before the competition started and he actually hung onto his jumps, even though he did make some mistakes in the Free Skate. He usually kind of falls apart after the first mistake and just pops the rest of his jumps or falls or something. But he actually hung onto his jumps, I was really impressed. And he really needed a good outing here to prove that he should be sent to the Championships in the Spring because he didn't do super well on the Grand Prix. And so, the fact that he was able to deliver under these really unfortunate circumstances, I think, hopefully, bodes well for how he's going to do later on in the season.

Nina: I hope it gives him some good momentum because didn't he also do well at Golden Spin?

Sam: Yeah, that was his best competition of the season by far.

Nina: Yeah, so, hopefully, it's a later start than he would have liked but it's giving him some momentum.

Yogeeta: All I really wanted was for him to actually get out of this competition alive, especially after we saw that he was still feeling very sick and that he definitely looked like wasn't doing his best, especially in the Short Program. It felt a lot less energetic than it usually does. But he did skate, probably, one of his better Free Skates of the season here so hopefully he's taking some time now to recover before returning to training for Euros.

Sam: I'm just shocked that was able to even get through a Free Skate, I don't know how he did it. I can't walk up the stairs when I have a head cold, so the fact that he made it through relatively fine - like it wasn't a great Free Skate, it wasn't a bad Free Skate, it was just fine. That is insanely impressive to me. I don't necessarily think it was the smartest decision, but he was kind of backed into a corner, where if he didn't skate who knows if he would have been assigned to anything else because of his lackluster performances on the Grand Prix. So I understand why he did it but...

Nina: Yeah, it's not the same as [Elizaveta Tuktamysheva] who had to take off, because she had done well on the Grand Prix.

Sam: I just love that program so much, it genuinely might be my favorite Free Skate for Men. (Nina: A "Carmen?") Yeah, a "Carmen" is my favorite Free Skate on the Men's side like period bar none.

Nina: What happened to Sam?

Sam: Yeah, I know right! But his body positions are so great, he skates from his core and just holds out every single position. I would honestly give it 10 in Composition every single time he skates it. It's just that good, I love it so much.

Yogeeta: I agree, it's probably my favorite program from the Men's this season for the Free Skates. I'm trying to think and there's really nothing else that can top this. I really want to see a clean "Carmen," guys. Moving onto our bronze medalist, Alexander Samarin. This is Samarin's third medal at Nationals and I don't understand what Russia sees in him. He can consistently land his jumps.

Nina: And I think that's it.

Kite: Yay!

Yogeeta: But he doesn't have super great entries into those jumps and his landings aren't very good either. I'm still very confused how his quad Lutz-triple toe combo got +4.27 GOE in his Free Skate because for something to get over +3 GOE it has to have very good height and distance, good take off and landing, and be effortless throughout, and I don't even think that jump combo was effortless throughout.

Nina: His landings are so crunchy.

Sam: They land with a little bit of a thud. They're not aesthetically pleasing, in any sense of the word. I don't know if you could say "aesthetically pleasing" for any bit of his skating to be honest. I'm going to stop there though because my mom always said: "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say it at all."

Kite: He lands on like a straight leg and so you kind of see him fish hook out of the jump because he doesn't have the knee bend to get that really nice running edge coming out. So he should never be able to get the good takeoff and landing bullet straight out of the gate.

Nina: Also his takeoff's are often on pretty shallow edges, especially his Lutz. It's enough to be a Lutz but it's not particularly deep or clear.

Yogeeta: Outside of the jumps, Samarin moves pretty awkwardly on ice. He doesn't really have much awareness of his body but he somehow got 9.18 in Performance for his Free Skate and I don't understand, guys. I don't.

Nina: Yeah, he also got 9.18 in Interpretation.

Sam: I'm still kind of reeling that he got higher Skating Skills marks at IDF than Jason [Brown]. That just tells you everything you kind of need to know (Nina: Excuse me) about where he's scored in relation to what's actually accurate and lot of it is just kind of a headscratcher where you're like "I don't really understand what you're seeing here."

Nina: Jason Brown didn't move to Canada for this.

Kite: Well he will be going to Euros so we'll see how he stacks up.

Sam: And most likely Worlds.

Kite: Yep, most likely Worlds.

Nina: Honestly, the Russian men have had it rough, so I can see why they're pushing him because for a while he was the only one who could land, so...

Yogeeta: Speaking of other tragic Russian men, Dmitri Aliev… I would love to know what’s going on with him and his Axels.

Sam: He didn’t jump an Axel in the Short Program, which is one of the required elements in the Short Program, so, unfortunately, he buried himself by missing one of three jumping passes, and couldn’t quite get it together enough to be named to the Euros team, which is probably also going to take him out of contention for Worlds, unfortunately.

Nina: He’s like the third alternate for Euros.

Yogeeta: He hasn’t actually skated consistent skates of both his programs this season. He’s consistently done really well in one and fallen apart in the other somehow.

Sam: I’m just so confused by the Axel issues, because he never really had a problem before, like his Axel was fine, but it’s twice now where he just didn’t do one. I just don’t know what to say, because what could have happened over the summer where it just literally - his jump died.

Nina: I mean the first time at least he kind of replaced it, so it’s like maybe you just thought you did it already? But this time, you clearly knew what you were doing, and then didn’t do it.

Kite: I hope it’s not becoming a mental block for him, where he like sees he’s going in for the Axel and is like ‘nope, not today.’

Nina: It makes me sad because he does have, he has some of my favorite programs this season, just because he’s really really lovely to watch when it’s just his movements.

Yogeeta: Moving on to other men, who are not on the Euros team because Russia hates him - Sergei Voronov. He is the one Russian man who actually made it to the Grand Prix Final, but apparently, Russia hates him.

Sam: My guy could have skated, and like gotten 300 Total, and RusFed still would’ve been like “No thanks, move on.” Like, he made the Grand Prix Final last year, didn’t have a great Nats and they were like “Yeah, no.. you’re not in contention for anything, it’s no big deal.” Like, he only skated better than every other man you had but, whatever... I’m fine, I’m not bitter about that at all.

Yogeeta: I’m still bitter that he didn’t get to go to the Olympics last year.

Sam: Do we want to do good Russia? Do we want spots? Or do we want to just promote the people we like? Make a choice.

Nina: He’s not an up and coming Junior, so Russia doesn’t know what to do with him.

Sam: Doesn’t Russia only have, like, one up and coming Junior?

Kite: In Men’s?

Sam: I had like a fever dream during Grand Prix Final. I’m pretty sure there was only one Russian man there in Juniors.

Kite: Yeah it was Petr -

Nina: Gumennik, who is also out with an upper respiratory infection or something... Russian Nationals, sponsored by Sudafed.

-end segment- 17:34

START: Ice Dance

Yogeeta: Moving on to our Ice Dance medalists, in gold, we have Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov, in silver, we have Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin and in third, we have Sofia Evdokimova and Egor Bazin.

Nina: So.. Gold medalists, Sinitsina and Katsalapov.

Kite: So I understand on an impartial basis why Victoria and Nikita won, but like why? (Hosts Laugh)

Sam: The existential why still exists.

Nina: Their Free Dance is so boring, there’s no chemistry in it. I don’t get it, because their Rhythm Dance is very good, and very enjoyable to watch, but then their Free Dance is glass - like there’s a glass wall up between me and any emotions I could be getting from it.

Sam: Yeah, so the best way I can describe it is like pretty music meant to emphasize pretty lines means nothing when you don’t have (laughs) anything to say with it. There’s no, like, inherent story between them, there’s no connection to how they’re supposed to feel while they’re listening to this pretty music that’s meant to make them look pretty and it’s all just kind of like mushed together to make something that’s pretty boring.

Kite: Sam is probably going to fight me on this, but I think their Free Dance is so boring because they don’t actually have any real chemistry, which I think you need to have if you’re going to skate to a piece like Bach, where it’s really slow and really nice and really melodic; the two people really have to have this connection that carries the music because the music is not going to carry you. I think Nikita still does a lot of the heavy lifting of the two in terms of skating skills and performance, and like, yeah, she’s gotten better, but he still kind of drags her around the ice most of the time and it’s like “Oh, we’re going to hit this position now, and this position and she’s just kind of there.”

Sam: I don’t necessarily disagree, but I will say that I think they deserve every mark they get for their Rhythm Dance. (Nina: I like that Rhythm Dance) They drill that pattern, consistently, every single time. It’s probably the best-performed pattern of the year, from anybody. Literally, like I said, on a consistent basis, at every competition they do, they do it the best, which is saying a lot when most people’s patterns, unfortunately, suck. So that gives them a huge advantage point going into the Free Dance, even though their Free Dance isn’t necessarily great. I agree with you guys, I do think Nikita is obviously the heavy lifter in the group, I just think Victoria should get a little bit of the credit for how far she’s come since they first partnered together and I will say she hits a beautiful line in a lift; their lifts are great when she like elongates out, because she has super long legs too (Nina: When she bends them right, she makes her positions look very nice) - She’s not as leggy as Alexandra but she’s cleaner with those long legs than Alexandra is.

Nina: What do they put in the water over there? I want some of that leg juice. (Hosts laugh)

Sam: Yeah, exactly. (laughs)

Yogeeta: Speaking of Alexandra, Stepanova and Bukin - I was just really sad, I really wanted them to win, I was really rooting for them. This was probably their best pattern work they’ve done all season, Victoria and Nikita were just better.

Sam: Alexandra, Ivan… Please get your levels. They got Level 3 in both parts of the Tango Romantica pattern in their Rhythm Dance versus Level 4 for Victoria and Nikita, and so that’s a one point difference in base value right out of the gate, and they were only behind by like 2 points, going into the Free Skate, so they could’ve narrowed that lead pretty considerably if they had hit all the elements the pattern required, and Yogeeta is right that at least Ivan didn’t get like a B for basic pattern this time. They’re making progress, from Grand Prix Final…

Yogeeta: Can’t you make the progress where it counts?

Kite: Well, Russian Nationals counts too.

Nina: I mean, can't you get more progress, at Nationals, that counts.

Kite: It’s just frustrating because even on home ice, they’re scored so close to Victoria and Nikita in PCS. Like, I was actually really surprised how close PCS were because they were in 0.5 of a point in both segments of the competition.

Sam: Weren’t they farther apart PCS wise at the [Grand Prix] Final? I can’t remember exact;y the numbers were but it wasn’t nearly that close (Nina: It was definitely further than 0.5) so that’s interesting.

Kite: Given how clearly Victoria and Nikita are the skaters that RusFed is pushing, I’m very surprised that PCS are that close. Stepanova and Bukin went into Grand Prix Final as the top Russian team - they had two gold medals on the Grand Prix - so I think that’s what’s giving them a boost at home, but they’re still not doing enough to overtake which would get that much closer if they got their levels on the pattern, that’s all I want. Like, New Year’s Resolution guys, get your levels.

Sam: I will say, I stand by what I said during the Rostelecom Cup episode, that if they really drill their program and skate lights-out on the Free Dance, later on in the season, they could easily still vault themselves into second in the world, because their programs have so much intensity to them. They are more engaging, as two programs, than anyone else, except from maybe Papadakis and Cizeron. I think they could easily just blow everybody else out of the water - if they do what they have to do technically, which they’re not doing right now.

Yogeeta: I just want to speak quickly to Tiffany [Zagorski] and Jonathan [Guerreiro] who had some unfortunate issues here. They’ve just had a really off season, from Tiffany’s knee injury delaying training over the summer, so they didn’t really start practicing their programs til the end of summer. They never really quite hit the elements of their Free Dance well enough, so it’s always kind of looked pretty awkward, and just having Jonathan’s boots coming undone during the Free Dance just threw the entire thing off. They’re currently, in my opinion, Russia’s third-best Ice Dance team, but with them not making Euros team, coupled with the rest of their mistakes this season, this is going to be a huge hit for their momentum and definitely allowing other Ice Dance teams to take that place as third-best.

Sam: I think it’s a huge opportunity for a team like Hawayek and Baker [USA] if they make it to Four Continents and become the third best, they’re the third-best USA team, which I pretty much expect them to be with Chock and Bates and Hubbell and Donohue - because that is their main competition, is Hawayek and Baker, I think, in terms of rankings. So, if Hawayek and Baker go to Four Continents, and Tiffany and Jonathan are at home still, not being able to go to Euros, then there’s this huge opportunity for them to step over them and move up.

-end segment- 24:05

START: Ladies

Kite: Okay, so moving on to the Russian Ladies’ medalists. In first place, we have Anna Shcherbakova, second place, Alexandra Trusova, and third place, Alena Kostornaia. And I would like to ask the class, what was the common trend on the Ladies’ podium?

Nina: Eteri Juniors!

Sam: Eteri!

Yogeeta: They are all Russian Juniors!

Sam: I was going to say they were Juniors, but that kind of goes hand in hand at this point.

Nina: I mean, yeah, she’s the one who’s pushing these juniors way up in the ranks with TES.

Sam: I will say though, that all the Juniors, not just the Eteri Juniors out-skated the Seniors, pretty much from top to bottom. They were all much more consistent, and much more on top of it than most of the Seniors were. [Maria] Sotskova did not have a great competition, Polina [Tsurskaya] did not have a great competition. Obviously, Evgenia [Medvedeva] struggled in the Short Program. I think, for the most the most part, they all skated close to clean.

Nina: I think the closest Russian Senior lady to be consistent this comp was Sofia [Samodurova].

Sam: She’s pretty much the most consistent skater in the world, so yeah.

Kite: The one that just came out of Juniors.

Nina: Liza was out though, she had pneumonia.

Kite: So, onto Anna Shcherbakova, so I was really, really, really happy she could have a good skate here, after she kind of struggled a little bit at [Junior] Grand Prix Final, fighting her jumps, so I’m really hoping this is going to help her confidence going into Junior Worlds, because that opening quad Lutz in her Free Skate was so big, and it was actually rotated. I was like “Oh my god,” that was not something I saw coming. I actually dropped whatever I was holding in my hand at the time because I was so shook at how good all of the elements of that jump were. And, I will credit her team in saying they made the right choice by only quote on quote putting one quad in the Free Skate, because she’s really had some issues landing the quad Lutz this season, like I don’t think she got it at all on the Junior Grand Prix and she took a really nasty fall, she took many nasty falls, during practise at Grand Prix Final, and then she took a nasty fall during the actual program too. So, I think by only putting one in there, and kind of like removing that pressure from her after she’s landed it was good and definitely helped her get the title here.

Yogeeta: After all the struggles that we saw her have at Junior Grand Prix Final, she definitely deserved the two great skates she had here, and I think this was the first time in the season she’s had two clean programs?

Sam: I think she did at her first Grand Prix because she didn’t do the quad.

Kite: Yeah, she went for the triple Lutz to open, I think, in the first one. But ever since she’s added the quad, this has been the first time she’s had two clean skates.

Nina: Yeah, I thought she did well, I’m happy for her. I still think her Free Skate music is a little heavy for her, in terms of tone and ability to perform it, and also her costume is very very fussy looking, kind of weighs her down, though is pretty. I still don’t know how I feel about Juniors really boosting their TES with quads, but her PCS aren't by the wayside because she does have some really solid skating skills and doesn’t seem to be 100% dependent on having quads to win, especially since she won here with only one versus Alexandra Trusova.

Sam: I’m going to be really honest, for both Shcherbakova and Trusova - the minute they’re done with their quads, and they’ve lived, I’m completely removed from what’s going on and so relieved they’re okay, so it’s hard for me to accurately judge how good their programs are or like, what’s happening afterward because I’m so focused on the one moment, and then I’m out. That said though, I do agree with Nina and I think the Free is a little too heavy for her. I think it has more to do with the costume, than it is to do with the music, because it’s just a lot, and she’s very slight and tiny and it kind of overwhelms her, but that said, she’s a beautiful skater, she’s really fast, her spins are great, she’s super flexible. I wish she would hold an edge out of her jumps just once, because I’d like to see what it looks like, because like [Alena Kostornaia] has a beautiful ending line position when she lands a jump and just holds it out, and it’s the most gorgeous thing in the world, so I’d like to see her and Trusova both try that, to gage better if they are having a running edge, because that affects their GOE on their jumps. That said though, I am concerned about the quads because you can tell that both her and Trusova are using their back a lot, to go ahead and vault themselves up in the air. Which like, anybody over 20 can attest to it, when you actually try and pick something up that’s heavy, and you’re using your upper body instead of your legs to pick it up, it hurts a lot afterward. So I can’t imagine what it’s like to be that young and be constantly using your upper body to jump, and what your back must feel like as you start to get older. I think you can see that, especially with Alina [Zagitova] and Evgenia now. Their skating is a lot more ‘hunchy’, especially on their toe combos, where they are hunching down into the second take-off for the toe to be able to get up into the air, and I think that’s the biggest drawback of Eteri’s technique - is that because she’s teaching them to jump with their upper body, there is no longevity for them going on further, because your body, as you get older, can’t handle that the same way and your rotational speed isn’t fast enough to compensate for your lack of height, because you’re not using your legs to jump.

Kite: Lift with your legs, not with your back (Sam: Yep) is the lesson for all you non-skaters out there.

Nina: And yeah, she could be teaching them really good technique to get them in the air, but instead, we have Alexandra Trusova, silver medalist, training a quad flip.

Yogeeta: We saw her practicing a quad flip, we don’t know she’s ever going to use it in competition so...

Sam: It’s Trusova…

Nina: She’s going to use it in competition.

Sam: I feel pretty confident in saying that girl will try anything. You could tell her “Yeah, we’re going to try quad Axel in the harness today,” and I think she would jump at the chance.

Nina: Okay, if someone told me I was going to be trying quad Axels in harness, I would jump at the chance.

Yogeeta: I would not because that sounds like hell. But Trusova also did land a quad Lutz in her Free Skate. She fell on her quad toe but she still ended up with the third highest TES of the entire event, including the men.

Sam: Which what else can you do but shake your head at her now. I mean honestly, she's a little firecracker. She's not the most musical skater. Especially out of the three Eteri juniors for me she's like third on the PCS front and I think that's where she should be scored. But what else can you say about her she's tenacious, she's a fighter, she's clearly super athletic. Again she is still jumping with her back, especially on the quads, but on her triples, she's using her legs more than I think Anna does. That said, like I said before, I don't remember much about her program outside of the quads. But I will say, her opening miming choreo where she goes in front of the judges and does like inside the box and then she punches them, is my favorite thing. I feel that.

Nina: I have to admit I like the programs that she was given this season for highlighting the fact that she isn't the most traditionally musical. And I think that especially her Free Skate is really fun when it gets very aggressive. I really enjoy it. I just do think that she could stand to work on her components more. But I think that picking interesting pieces of music is actually a good choice for her and I would like to see that continue.

Kite: So moving on to bronze medalist for the second year running, Alena Kostornaia, I just want to say that she would've won the entire event if she hadn't fallen on the step sequence in the Short Program and I am going to die on this hill.

Nina: And my heart agrees with you, my conservative brain says that they might have given her silver because of the less aggressive jumping passes but really she deserved to win.

Yogeeta: Yeah she lost two points for that fall. Minus one on her base value and then another deduction for the fall, so her PCS probably took a small hit there as well. I can't say who would've won, I agree I would've loved her to win but it definitely would've been very very close between the top three.

Sam: And for me, she's Satoko category where I'm like give her 77 PCS or bust just for standing there. So in my head, she should've won anyway, but I'm not going to fight for it. I understand why she didn't but her PCS should be… she should've won PCS across the board in the entire competition and I'm kind of upset she didn't.

Nina: I was just going to say it's kind of hard to fault them for not letting her win when she did take a random stumble and fall in her step sequence, that's not a good look to have.

Yogeeta: She definitely deserved higher PCS. The fact that her PCS was so close to Konstantinova's hurts me.

Kite: Again like girl...fix your leg wrap please on the double Axel especially. It's super obvious. We did get video over the past few days, which is apparently an old training video that resurfaced on Instagram, of her training the triple Axel and her leg position does look a lot better on that jump. And the triple Axel looks really great and it's fully rotated, at least to the naked eye. So I hope it'll be ready for competition when she joins the senior ranks because quite frankly I think she's gonna need it to actually be competitive as a senior. But yeah there's obviously still some issues with her technique that her team needs to work on. And will they? That's debatable.

Sam: I wonder if the leg wrap comes because she is training a triple Axel? So the double Axel is less tight, less clean like that cause it does get very very high.

Kite: Well I mean her double Axel looks like a popped triple Axel. It really does. Like when you see some of the senior men who pop quads into doubles, like that's what their leg position looks like. But because it's intended to be a double I think the leg wrap should still hurt her GOE. But I mean that's a pretty small nitpick in the grand scheme of her skating, which I think is lovely.

Yogeeta: I would like to say that even if she doesn't have the triple Axel she's still going to be competitive in the Senior ranks. Because she has such great skating and especially since the judges this season are definitely trying to send the message that the new judging system with the GOEs, with the plus or minus 5 GOE, is meant to help reward that quality of skating which Alena has.

Sam: Oh boy, she has that quality.

Nina: I do think that she needs the triple Axel to really be competitive for top podium spots because she'll have been just coming up from Juniors, she's going to be a Russian lady in a field that's pretty big and I don't know if she's going to be pushed by them as like a heavy favorite right away. And the Japanese ladies are still also right up there with all of them.

Sam: I don't know if I'm like you need the hardest jumps to be able to make podiums now. Because for a lot of skaters they're saying they're training triple Axels or they're saying they want to do quads but we haven't seen them, even in training videos. So it's hard to say when those will actually be in competition. And right now we only have two skaters that are doing triple Axels. One, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, who is beaten consistently by skaters with less technical content. And Rika Kihira, who, while she should win when she's clean, she's only been clean in both segments once so far this season and she's only a first-year senior. So I'm not necessarily concerned about where her place will be when she becomes a senior next season, because like Yogeeta said, there's obvious room for a skater with insane quality, who does it consistently to rise through the ranks quickly. And that's traditionally how you get higher PCS when you first become a senior. You skate consistently and you make the judges pay attention to you and that's when your PCS starts to rise. So I'm not really worried about that. I think obviously the trend is to push for higher technical content in Ladies, but I don't think we're at a place yet where you need the technical content to beat skaters that already have it. I think there's plenty of room for a PCS skater with quality jumps to still get ahead when they're clean.

Kite: Well yeah like Yogeeta said, I think that the judges are definitely actually using the scoring system the way that it was meant to be used. Which is to reward the quality of your elements over quantity/your technical content. Which we saw with Jason Brown at IDF, who nearly broke a hundred without a quad in the Short Program. And Alena is kind of the same, she doesn't do quads and she doesn't do the triple loop combos. But this is the second time in a month that we've seen the judges willing to score her close to or above the quadsters anyway, just based on how well she executes her elements and also her PCS. Ultimately I think/hope that she is making the smart choice by playing the long game. Which is to say that she's relying on her consistency and just how lovely and pure her skating is and reducing her risk of injury.

Nina: So two of Eteri's skaters, or former skaters, who didn't have such great showings this competition, we're starting to make people talk about the longevity of her technique or just the longevity of her skaters. So first we had Alina Zagitova, in a rather disappointing finish for her I'm sure.

Kite: This is the part where we kind of start going through the aftermath of the technique that Eteri teaches and that Sam gave us a very good rundown of earlier in the episode. So we saw it with Yulia Lipnitskaya and we kind of saw the beginnings of it with Evgenia before she moved. Now we're seeing it again with Alina and that's that the jump technique that the Eteri camp teaches will inevitably start to fail the skater sometime during the second senior season. Like clockwork during the second senior season is when you can see their technique start to fall apart. And so how Evgenia managed to keep her jumps intact, will never cease to amaze me, because she was basically landing, especially her double Axels, through sheer willpower. Like physically that Axel should never have gotten off the ground.

Nina: I mean you could see she would rotate it with her shoulders before she got off the ground.

Kite: Yeah.

Sam: And there's like...when we were talking about earlier that they were jumping with their upper body, there's no way to do an Axel with your upper body and make it look nice.

Kite: Exactly.

Sam: You need to be using your lower body and your free leg to kick yourself up into the air to be able to get an effective Axel. So the fact that that jump even still...I think the fact that that jump is still even feasible for her is kind of incredible.

Kite: And Alina was injured at Russian Nationals as far as we know. She injured herself at Grand Prix Final by tripping over one of the power cables. And so there's no way that the injury had healed within two weeks if she was training towards Nationals at the same time. But I think skating through injury is another hallmark of why Samba 70, which is Eteri's camp, why their training methods ultimately fail their skaters. Because Alina was visibly not ready to compete. And frankly, she didn't need to compete because she did well enough on the Grand Prix that she was basically guaranteed a spot at Euros and then there she could make the case for the world team. Instead of needing to push herself through injury and risk, re-aggravating the injury in order to have a good showing at Russian Nationals, when ultimately it's not her priority as a skater, frankly.

Nina: I was just going to say, skating through injury...don't forget that Alina still has Osgood-Schlatter disease and isn't taking off time to rest like she needs to, to even let that sort of condition de-inflame.

Kite: Speaking from personal experience, that is a really terrible condition to have to deal with. Like it hurts to walk. So I don't know how she is going out there and banging out like triple Lutz-triple loop combos.

Sam: And there was a picture of her ankle and it was still visibly swollen. So…

Yogeeta: It's not like there isn't precedent for someone withdrawing from Russian Nationals and still making Euros team. Evgenia had to withdraw last season from Russian Nationals due to injury and she still made it to Europeans. And Alina definitely did not need to go to Russian Nationals.

Sam: And it's important to point out that like, being injured is another hallmark of what happens with Eteri's skaters. They all have their fabulous first senior season or their fabulous final last junior season, they move up, they take everything by storm. And then their second season, Evgenia aside, they get injured, things get harder, they grow up, and then suddenly they're gone. And it's really sad to see. It's not fun to talk about, it's not fun to talk about with these juniors now, I understand why everybody...why people want to be like "Oh my god what they're doing is so impressive!". But when you pay attention to the patterns and you see what happens with her skaters going forward, it's hard to be happy about these incredibly talented girls being this successful doing these quads when you know the success rate going forward.

Kite: It's I think doubly just really difficult to watch. Because Alina came into this season as a pretty strong contender for the world title. Especially at Nebelhorn where she broke the world record in both segments of the competition at her very first outing and generally looked pretty good. And then I think the season for her has kind of derailed to the point where it's in question whether she's even going to make the world podium. Because I personally can think of at least three ladies who could beat her internationally. And even her performances on the Grand Prix...even though she won both of her assignments and she was second at the Final, she was noticeably labored. And her jumps were just not...not working for her anymore and she got pretty lucky because she was assigned to two competitions where their fields were pretty watered down and she didn't really have any rivals and it's not like next season is necessarily going to be easier for her either because all of the juniors, Trusova, Shcherbakova, and Kostornaia, are all going to be moving up to Seniors, so she really needed this season to kind of prove internationally that she was the top lady in the world before the crop of juniors come in. And given the history of young senior superstars coming out of Eteri's camp, like Sam said, I really worry about what's gonna happen now that she's not delivering. And in a similar vein, I don't know why I had to see a video of her training a quad flip in harness. I didn't deserve that. I don't think anyone deserved that.

Nina: I don't think Alina deserved that.

Kite: Yeah. I don't know if her team actually is planning to prep her for a quad flip, I really hope they're not, but I think...I'd hope they would realize that the more immediate issue right now is the fact that she's barely even rotating her triples. Like I don't know if I've seen her land a clean triple Lutz combo all season.

Nina: I mean I'm hoping that it was because like you mentioned, the Alena triple Axel video was apparently like old footage, and we don't know when the Trusova video is from, we don't necessarily know when this is from and it could hopefully just be like "Oh it's a training day let's bring out the harness and try some big jumps". I mean honestly, I am starting to wonder and starting to worry if she's going to continue to be competitive at all because she doesn't seem to have her triples. I worry that she's not going to be able to get them back due to her health issues and the technique issues. And then she's getting a lot of high marks because her team is really pushing her because she's their only top senior lady now and right now is still somewhat competitive on the international field. But when the juniors move up, I'm not sure if she's going to be able to stay competitive and if they're going need to continue to push for her.

Sam: Yeah I mean there isn't really a precedent for Eteri still prioritizing you after she's found somebody else to replace you whose doing better than you. That sounds really harsh to say but like even watching her in the kiss & cries here at Russian Nationals, she was in view of the camera during Shcherbakova's skate but she wasn't over by the boards with her. And she was visibly upset almost when Trusova didn't win, like she was hitting her leg in frustration. Or even at the Olympics when Evgenia didn't win and she saw Alina's scores she didn't look happy for her.

Nina: That's how it works in Samba 70 when someone younger with better tech comes along.

Sam: She clearly has her favorites and I don't think she necessarily prioritizes them all the same. She clearly like goes for the one and her one skater even though she has a wealth of talent around her. And I just...for me it's just not comfortable to watch Alina skate at this point. She doesn't look comfortable. In fact I visibly can't look at her when she's opening her Carmen Free Skate because she just does not look like she's into it.

Kite: She looks panicked.

Sam: Yeah! Like the smile is not engaging in a helpful way it's just...it just looks like she's out of it. And her movement isn't like connected or smooth or again, I guess comfortable is the word. She just don't look like she's enjoying skating right now and she might love it still and she might be happy when she's out on the ice practicing. But when she's competing she doesn't look like she is.

Nina: It looks like she's really stressed out competing because every competition for her position in her camp is so stressful and up in the air.

Yogeeta: Yeah.

Nina: It's like every competition she’s like I have to show why I'm still here.

Yogeeta: Yeah, I hope that after this season she does leave the Eteri camp and finds a new coach, but I don't know if it's too late to save her.

Sam: I don't even know if it's even just that. I think if you told me at the beginning of the season that she was the one who left Eteri, instead of Evgenia, I would have had a lot more hope for her because her jumps weren't at a place, even though I didn't necessarily think they were looking great over the summer, they weren't in a place where I thought that she was beyond help. That said though, just because of how unprecedented it is to leave Eteri and still be successful afterward and find a coach that can completely overhaul your jumps the way they need to be overhauled because they need, from the ground up, to take a couple years and just fix everything. I don't know what she could conceivably do to fix it. Her, especially where her skating is right now, and with the injuries.

Kite: Yeah, I honestly think people who are calling for her to leave Eteri, I mean they do have her best interests in mind, I think, but I think maybe they fail to recognize that what Evgenia did at the end of last season, how unprecedented it was, for especially a Russian lady to be training outside of Russia and still have some measure of success, especially after leaving Eteri's camp as a second or third season senior. That is not something that I think we have ever seen before, so there are a lot more factors in consideration there than just "Alina can leave Eteri and some other coach is gonna be able to save her jumps and her competitive mentality and she's still gonna be able to be as dominant as she was in her first season," it's not as simple as that. And those are all things that need to be considered.

Nina: Speaking of Evgenia, it's not like she had the easiest process this season and that really showed itself here.

Kite: Yeah, so moving on to Evgenia Medvedeva. She did change her Short Program, it was rumored that she would be because there was a video that surfaced of her training to some other music, and she's skating to “Tosca” now, and I do understand why she made the change, because her old Short Program "Orange Colored Sky" really was not working for her, because it was such a different style than what she was used to that she was having a really hard time getting her jumps, while also focusing on selling the choreo, and it looked good at ACI the first time and then kinda just never really worked for her again. So I think it ultimately, it was the smart, strategic choice for her team to give her a piece of music that's more comfortable for her, and she has a really good face for dramatic music, she's really good at selling drama, and so I can see how “Tosca” is a better fit for her at this transition point in her career, but that said, after the news initially came out that she was gonna be switching her Short Program, it really didn't look good for her, it looked really panicked and desperate, and people were like "Oh my god, is she even gonna be able to get the program choreographed before Russian nationals," but she and Brian Orser apparently made the choice after IDF, so that was way back in November, and choreo-wise I think it looked fine. It didn't look empty or didn't look like something that was cobbled together at the last minute.

Nina: Oh yeah no, I knew it was gonna be risky right before nationals, but I wasn't worried about the choreo, it was plenty of time for her to nail something, and it did look quite nice, and I do think it's gonna make things easier for her in the short run, but I don't know if it's a good move for the long term run of her change, because I think "Orange Colored Sky" was good for her and showed promise at Autumn Classic, but she didn't win Autumn Classic, she placed second, and I've been worried about her mentality ever since because shortly after at Skate Canada she changed her costume and her hairstyle back to her old competition hairstyle, then at IDF she was losing her ability to emote the sort of spunky, flirtatious atmosphere of "Orange Colored Sky" and now she's gone back to something that, for her, is still easier to emote traditionally, and I worry that part of her brain is going "Oh my god, I'm slipping and I need to go back to what was working before," but that stuff wasn't gonna work in the long run necessarily for her and she kind of needs to change her mentality in a much bigger frame.

Yogeeta: I agree that some of the mentality issues are there but I don't think that choosing to go to “Tosca” is a sign that's she's slipping mentality, I just think that they were trying to change too much at one time for her, they were trying to give her new styles, they were trying to fix her jumps, they were trying to get her, fix her technique, and her basic skills, so it was just way too much for her to handle, I think. I hope that she brings back "Orange Colored Sky" maybe next season, or the season after when she has a better fit for herself in Toronto, and also has a better grip on her jumps and her technique.

Sam: I think for me, we've all said, as skating fans in general, that this was gonna take time, that this wasn't gonna be easy, that she wasn't gonna be winning everything out of the gate, that she wasn't gonna be dominating like she had in the past, but I don't necessarily think that she thought that.

Nina: That's what I'm worried about.

Sam: It doesn't feel like it, the stuff that Nina mentioned about how the program kind of went down performance wise as she didn't skate it as well as a lot of people expected her to and kept making mistakes, I don't think she thought that she would get the scores she got at Autumn Classic, I think she thought it would be much higher because she did skate it well, but she didn't get the GOE she was used to, and from then on from that competition it just kind of - I don't wanna say it spiraled, because I don't think she's spiraling, because like I said I never once thought that this would be easy for her, that she would be clean at every competition, but I don't think she's where she thought she would be and that's hard for her to deal with. And why wouldn't it be? You're on top of the world one moment and then the next second you're not anymore and you're injured and you're completely having to relearn how to jump, and you're in a new place with new faces, speaking a completely different language, so obviously there's gonna be upheaval, but I just wonder if she realized how difficult this would be, just even skating wise - score-wise, if she thought she'd be in this position or what she thought she would achieve this season, I guess.

Nina: Especially because her jumps look good in practices, in practices she's still able to pull out good run-throughs, so I think that when she does and in the past has had really not-great Short Programs, I think it's gotta be something in her brain.

Sam: Yeah, especially here. She was skating clean in practices. Especially for the Free, I was concerned for her, when I saw that she was doing a double Axel-triple toe, because while her double Axel has made improvements, I'm still not confident in it, because she does tend to clam up with it when she's not feeling comfortable, which I think was part of the issue of having the two at the top originally in her planned content, but that said, she is skating well in practices and it's just not translating which she needs to compete.

Kite: This was also her first time competing at home since she changed coaches, and so I mean obviously she knew a lot of eyes were on her. They were scrutinizing her decisions to move to Canada and wondering if she made the right decision and knowing that if she didn't do well, people were gonna say she should have never left Eteri, yadda yadda yadda, and so you could see that that was all kind of going on in her brain and that was really impacting her ability to have confidence in herself. And so it was really a shame what happened in the Short Program, but despite the fact that she faltered quite a bit, she had the support of the crowd, they were very enthusiastic for her, and of the judges, she got the second highest PCS in the segment, despite falling and having an invalidated combo, and she got nine's or above in skating skills and composition of the program and that is nuts.

Nina: I don't know if I'd agree with that, but...

Kite: It's nuts considering that she was 14th overall after the Short Program, to have the second highest PCS.

Yogeeta: I honestly think she needed to have that skate here, to know that her fans in Russia are still behind her and still are supporting her.

Nina: Her face in the kiss & cry, she was clearly so surprised and happy to have people still cheering for her after the skate she put out.

Yogeeta: So I think that definitely lifted a lot from her shoulders, to know that she can go out and fail and still receive the support of her fans at home. Her Free Skate went a lot better than her Short Program here, she had the highest scoring Free Skate of the senior ladies, and hopefully that's a sign of her turning around and understanding that it's okay for her to fail and she's gonna lift some of that off of her shoulder, some of those feelings that she has to be perfect off of her shoulders and actually perform.

Sam: Yeah, and hopefully that's something that she can do if she goes to the domestic comp later in the spring before Worlds, to see if she can make the team, that said, on the PCS front, I mean, I don't think she's truly performed that Free Skate this season, I don't think she's really come close which makes it very difficult to watch because she needs to be carrying that music, that music can't carry her, she needs to be the driving force behind it, otherwise it just kind of looks empty, before you get to the [part of] the Free Skate where the music starts to build intensity, that said, adding the Salchow-loop combo is the smartest thing she's done all season. Her edge jumps are easily her best jumps outside of the double Axel, I don't know why she never thought about doing a loop combo before, because the loop especially is probably her best jump, so I think maybe if they had started the season doing the sal-loop and then having the sal-triple toe in the second half, maybe that probably would have helped her with her earlier struggles instead of trying to force the flip-toe and do the Lutzes, I don't know if that was necessarily the smartest thing. I understand they were trying to fix her Lutz edge, but there's only so much you can do at this point with it, but yeah, I really love that combo, I hope she keeps using it, I hope she can get her flip back into a place where maybe down the line, eventually, she might be able to try a flip-loop instead of the flip-toe too, that said, though, I think I'm still in the camp of thinking she should have taken the season off.

Nina: I don't think she should go to worlds, either.

Sam: I just meant, in general, I don't think she should have competed on the Grand Prix or tried to push for this year, maybe gone to Rus Nats just to have a comp to get your feet wet, but she was severely injured after the Olympics, by some reports she wasn't even - she could barely jump when she was coming back to Canada. So that said, being in a new environment, completely changing your life, relearning how to jump, and then trying to compete on top of it might not have been the best decision for her, and I think that can account for a lot of the issues she's had, so I think that maybe taking the season off, really working her ass off, and just trying to improve every aspect of her skating in the comfort of being in a private environment could have helped her going into next season and maybe she wouldn't have struggled as much out of the gate then as she has here.

Kite: And kind of to piggyback off of that, this is the second time we've seen Evgenia have a very good Free Skate following a very disastrous Short Program, and so it seems that now, because she's not overtly one of the leading ladies of the world, sitting in the underdog position is taking some of the pressure off of her to deliver when she needs to maintain a lead, and at the same time it's lighting a fire in her belly that she needs to deliver a clean Free Skate to be on the podium, and while we've gotten some very good performances from her because of that, it does make me a little bit worried that she's developing a mental block to skating as the leader after the Short Program, or at this point even going into a competition as the favorite, because she still very clearly thinks that she needs to prove to Rus Fed and to the judges and probably to some extent her old team that she made the right choice to switch coaches and turn her life around and move to Canada, and when she falters, it's like that entire justification seems to start to crumble around her, and I don't necessarily think that that's a good approach going forward. That's not a good competitive mentality. So I really hope that, if her team sees something concerning regarding that, that they're going to address it.

Yogeeta: Moving on to our other two big Russian ladies here, Sofia Samodurova and Stanislava Konstantinova.

Kite: Starting off with Sofia, this is her first senior season, and I don't think we've actually seen her miss all season.

Yogeeta: We haven't.

Kite: Yeah, I think she's been clean at every competition that she's been at, and her jumps are pretty small but she does have very solid technique and she gets her rotations around. And so there was some concern about whether or not she would get assigned to Euros, because she wasn't the top finishing senior lady at Russian nationals and since Tuktamysheva is out with pneumonia and Stanislava is getting score inflation out the wazoo as we have seen. I think if she places ahead of Stanislava at Euros, she's gonna get the nod for Worlds.

Yogeeta: Sofia here was, in my opinion, much better than Stanislava in all fronts, but I'm just concerned about whether or not she will actually place ahead of Stanislava at Euros. While Sofia does have a higher personal best internationally than Stanislava, they haven't gone head to head yet, and we all know who, between the two, who Russian Fed is much more invested in for some reason, because I don't understand why, but Stanislava has had Russian Federation's backing in not just this season but also last season, and they're definitely pushing for Stanislava as a top Russian lady which I don't really understand, Stanislava is perfectly fine, she doesn't have the best jump technique - she hunches over on her landings, she underrotates a lot, but... she's not the worst skater in the world by any means, but Sofia's technique, I think, is a lot smoother, and she's just more entertaining to watch. I just don't understand guys, I don't understand.

Sam: I just - you'd think after last year when they almost lost three spots at Worlds, they would value the consistent skater who they'll know will go out there and give you two perfectly fine performances and have a high enough ranking where if something happens with Alina and Elizaveta that there's somebody there who can take their place and be totally okay to help them three spots because they're gonna need it next year a lot. This isn't the time to be mucking around with politics and favoring people who aren't consistent, because Stanislava is not consistent.

Kite: And also, I think the judges really do tend to have selective blindness when calling her jumps, because in the Free Skate here, like she does have a chronic underrotation problem, you can see that even in real time, but in the Free Skate here I counted at least five out of seven jumping passes that at least should have been reviewed if not called under, and then they ended up calling just her solo triple Lutz under. Were we watching the same competition?

Yogeeta: Well, that's been consistent throughout the season, even on the Grand Prix, she's had severe underrotation issues and she rarely, if ever, gets called. I really would love to know why.

Kite: Yeah, wouldn't we all.

Yogeeta: I have a lot of fears about what Russia is going to be doing with the Sofia versus Stanislava situation because they're pretty much the ones who are up for the third spot at Worlds unless Evgenia does some miracle in that domestic Russian comp so I really hope that they both do well at Euros and I hope that they get the scores that they both deserve, if they both skate cleanly I would always place Sofia above Stanislava.

Nina: The scores are just so dependent on where people want people to go, and again, I also just imagine it's very frustrating and not very kind to Sofia who's had a great senior debut, but if she's not named to the teams when she deserves to be going there with this consistency and her scores...

Yogeeta: Like, she made Grand Prix Final.

Nina: Yeah, she did.

Sam: She made the Junior Grand Prix Final last year and she wasn't even in close contention for a spot at Junior Worlds. That Stanislava got.

Nina: It's, if she has this great season and again isn't picked to go to Worlds, and again the Russian juniors are coming up next season, I worry what it will do for her momentum which she should rightfully have at this point, coming off of the Grand Prix Final.

Kite: Yeah, so looking ahead to the European Championships, we could easily have an all-Russian podium, now that Carolina Kostner is no longer competing, which is pretty funny to me.

Yogeeta: I'm worried about Alina's condition for Euros, but even so, I don't think that will stop an all-Russian podium, are there any other ladies that can..?

Nina: Maé-Bérénice [Méité]!

Sam: I don't think a clean Maé could beat Alina even with mistakes. Loena [Hendrickx] might if she was clean. She did have a really great competition to start the season, especially that Short Program where she scored over seventy, that said she was sick for Skate America and she was so-so at Helsinki. So I'm curious to where she's at now but her jumps are spectacular, so she could, conceivably, make it on to the podium, but it would still be highly dependent on what everybody else does.

Yogeeta: Loena had a great breakout at Euros last season and she was fifth there, so anything is possible.

Kite: It's just really hard to see Alina being lower than third. Even if she skates like she did at Russian nationals, which I don't think she will personally, I think she'll have it more together at Euros, because she has a month until then and she only had two weeks between Grand Prix Final and Russian Nationals. So we'll see, but I wouldn't be surprised if we saw a Russian sweep of the podium.

-end segment- 1:03:31

START: Outro

Nina: Thank you for listening! We hope to see you again for our next episode, which is going to be about Japanese Nationals.

Yogeeta: If you want to get in touch with us, then please feel free to contact us via our website inthelopodcast.com or on Twitter, Tumblr, or Facebook. You can find our episodes on YouTube, iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, and Spotify.

Sam: If you enjoy the show and want to help support the team, then please, please, please consider making a donation to us on our ko-fi page. We'd also like to give a huge shoutout to all the listeners who have contributed to the team so far.

Kite: You can find the links to all our social media and our ko-fi on our website. If you're listening on iTunes, please consider leaving a rating and a review if you enjoyed the show. Thanks for listening, this has been Kite.

Yogeeta: Yogeeta.

Sam: Sam.

Nina: And Nina. See you soon!