Alena Kostornaia leads historic Russian medal sweep at Grand Prix Final
Alena Kostornaia led the way as Russian women swept the medals at the Grand Prix Final, a historic achievement for a nation that has been the dominant force the last six years.
Kostornaia, 16 and in her first senior international season, landed three triple Axels between two programs, tallying 247.59 points, the world’s best score this season.
“It was a challenge for me because it is the fourth competition at the high level [this season],” said Kostornaia, undefeated this fall. “It’s really cool that I can be first.”
She prevailed by 6.67 points on the strength of her short program lead and artistic scores. Her countrywomen landed quadruple jumps in Saturday’s free skate in Turin, Italy.
Russia is the only nation to sweep the medals in one discipline in the 25-year history of the event, the second-biggest annual international competition behind the world championships. It happened once before: Russia’s men in the 1998-99 season.
Kostornaia, last year’s Junior Grand Prix Final champion, was followed in the final standings by fellow pupils of Eteri Tutberidze: Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova. NBC Sports analyst Johnny Weir calls them “the Troika.”
Shcherbakova and Trusova, both 15, each landed multiple quads but also fell on quad attempts.
Shcherbakova outscored Kostornaia in the free skate but couldn’t make up the gap from the short, where quads aren’t allowed. Trusova, who came into the event ranked No. 1 in the world, became the first woman to land a quad flip in competition.
Bradie Tennell, the first American woman in the Grand Prix Final since 2015, had a relatively clean free skate (two under-rotated jumps) and finished fifth in the six-skater field.
Olympic and world champion Alina Zagitova dropped from second after the short to sixth, her worst finish as a senior, after falling in a free skate without a quad or triple Axel.
Earlier in ice dance, French Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron extended their unbeaten run since taking Olympic silver, comfortably bagging their second Grand Prix Final title by 9.17 points.
Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates and Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue were second and third, marking the first time the U.S. put two couples on a Grand Prix Final podium.
Chock and Bates passed Hubbell and Donohue in the free dance to match their best Grand Prix Final result from 2014 and 2015, when they were the U.S.’ top couple.
Grand Prix Final
Gold: Alena Kostornaia (RUS) — 247.59
Silver: Anna Shcherbakova (RUS) — 240.92
Bronze: Alexandra Trusova (RUS) — 233.18
4. Rika Kihira (JPN) — 216.47
5. Bradie Tennell (USA) — 212.88
6. Alina Zagitova (RUS) — 205.23
Gold: Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron (FRA) -- 219.85
Silver: Madison Chock/Evan Bates (USA) -- 210.68
Bronze: Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue (USA) -- 207.93
4. Alexandra Stepanova/Ivan Bukin (RUS) -- 204.88
5. Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier (CAN) -- 203.50
6. Victoria Sinitsina/Nikita Katsalapov (RUS) -- 203.39
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