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Aliona Kostornaya tops Rostelecom Cup short program

Alena Kostornaia

Russia’s Alena Kostornaia competes to win the Ladies Free skating program of ISU European Figure Skating Championship 2020 in Graz, on January 25, 2019. (Photo by Daniel MIHAILESCU / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL MIHAILESCU/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

Aliona Kostornaya didn’t have the triple Axel, but she didn’t need it to top the short program in a battle of Russian Olympic medal contenders at the Rostelecom Cup in Moscow on Friday.

Kostornaya, 17 and the world’s top skater last season when she incorporated the Axel, instead had three clean jumping passes. They included a triple flip-triple toe loop combination for 78.84 points.

Aleksandra Trusova, a 16-year-old who can perform a triple Axel and quadruple jumps, fell on her opening triple Axel attempt and had it downgraded. Trusova, like Kostornaya, won her first two Grand Prix starts last season to stamp her name as the Beijing Olympics near.

Trusova tallied 70.81 points on Friday, trailing both Kostornaya and 2015 World champion Yelizaveta Tuktamysheva, who had a triple Axel but erred on her two other jumping passes for 74.70 points.

Rostelecom Cup, typically one of six Grand Prix Series events that gather the world’s top skaters, is largely a domestic Russian affair this year due to coronavirus pandemic-related travel precautions.

Full results are here. All of the free skates are Saturday, streaming live on Peacock Premium. NBC airs TV coverage on Saturday and Sunday from 4-6 p.m. ET.

Earlier, Georgian Morisi Kvitelashvili outscored the top Russian men with a short program that included two quads. Kvitelashvili, 25, improved from 24th at the PyeongChang Olympics to place third at last January’s European Championships.

In pairs, Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov edged European champions Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitriy Kozlovskiy by 1.05 points. Mishina and Galliamov were the top Russian pair at last December’s Grand Prix Final (bronze), then placed fourth at the Russian Nationals and were not among the three Russian pairs sent to Europeans in January.

World silver medalists Victoriya Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov topped the rhythm dance by 6.67 points.

Sinitsina and Katsalapov, who upset French Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeorn to win the European title in January, will look in 2022 to put Russia back on the Olympic dance podium. The 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games marked the first Olympics without a Russian or Soviet couple among the medalists.

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