The COVID-19 pandemic kicked all skaters out from the ice. News like coaching changes at those of Trusova and Kostornaia's cases; or skaters far away from their training places, like Medvedeva; have marked the news during the summer.
The Russian Tests Skates 2020 make it clear that, despite difficulties, no Russian ice skaters want to be left behind this season. Falls, setbacks, anger, and dedication. These four words can sum up the afternoons of September 12th and 13th, when Moscow was the centre of attention.
The falls divided among the seven women who presented their new programs in the Russian capital. The setbacks such as Samodurova's departure because of fever. Kostornaia’s anger main feeling, the reason why she did not agree with her short program, and directly refusing the free one. And the dedication for the effort they has taken to go out and give everything, even when they are inappropiate conditions.
Plushenko's skaters are doing well
Trusova and Kostornaia. Kostornaia and Trusova. The two of them were the undisputed main characters of the Tests, like Evgeni Plushenko was too. The performance they were going to do on the skates was something that was going to be discussed, a lot. Again, in the case of Alena, it was also discussed what was done outside the ice.
Kostornaia chose ''no time to die'' and ''you should see me in a crown'' by Billie Eillish as the music for her short program. Her face when she finished skating said it all: she was not at all happy about her performance inside the ice rink. The program was very in her line, with two parts clearly distinguished by the two songs but she skated with no emotion.
The basis is present, the potential can be appreciated and the European champion can extract it without any problem. But Saturday was not the best of her days. Due to this reason, when last Sunday dawned, Kostornaia left the Tests with the intention of changing its free program for the next competition. This program is going to be choreographed by Shae-Lynn Bourne.
It was even better for Alexandra Trusova. She has been under Plushenko's sight during the entire summer period. The music of her short program was "Love Story" by Lola & Hauser. It showed the work to polish and improve the Sasha who come to seniority last season.
At the long program the improvement can be seen briefly with the music of ''Romeo and Juliet''. It was seen a more mature Trusova in her skating, minimally moved away of her methodical statism. She was close but in a concise way approaching to the 'artistic' part of figure skating.
Samodurova's fever and Tuktamyseva's evolution
Sofia Samodurova skated the short program with a fever. In a normal year, in a normal situation, there would not have been an issue. But in these times, in the middle of a pandemic that continues to accumulate infections and deaths, it is a serious problem.
Putting this incident aside, her short program, ''The man with the harmonica'', by Apollo 440, was a pleasant surprise on Saturday afternoon. According to her song, the choreography was cold but she always manages how to capture the aura of the music. Good for Mishin's pupil, the greatest unperceived of the Tests.
The oldest of the seven, 23-year-old Tuktamyseva, was not unnoticed. To the rhythm of Khachaturian's ''Spartak'', the Saint Petersburg native made a short program with a very own brand. A dreamlike choreography with a great potential at the time of competing.
On the other hand, her FS, ''The song of the bird'', demonstrated Elizaveta's desire and intention not to stall, knowing how to evolve according to with current skating.
Difficult times for Tutberidze
A stranger among adults, and a skater alone in the face of danger. Valieva and Shcherbakova gave their best, but with an incomparable pressure. The junior starts as a favourite, and her presence during the Senior Tests was decaffeinated among the real centres of attention. However, now Anna is the only senior trained by Tutberidze, which puts real pressure on her shoulders.
‘’Storm’’ will be the SP of Valieva, just as stormy has been the summer of Team Tutberidze. It was delicate, with details to be polished over the next few weeks, but with plenty of some potential to be the junior queen in her final year. It is not an unique program, it is nothing extremely new, but it is designed to succeed in its category. It is something that Eteri knows how to achieve.
Similar is her free program, ''Bolero''. However, the free one is even more austere in interpretation than the short one. Cold in certain moments, remarkably close to the technique and truly little to the artistic, his FS coincides with her short program. She tries to be perfectly measured to win, nothing more.
Shcherbakova is, on the other hand, the only one of the 3A faithful to Tutberidze. Her short program, ''O doux printemps d'autrefois'' is grey, with a melancholy, muted tone, enveloped in a dark mist. The rest of the young Anna's programme saw last season, leads to a more reflexive and intimate program, far from what was seen before.
‘’Forgiveness’’ is the music of her long program, in the vein of what was seen in her SP. It was a more adult Shcherbakova -- although perhaps taking a forced leap of maturity in her skating that she will have to polish throughout the season -- and she offered us another choreography about memories, wanting to turn it into a memorable one.
Anna shows more fineness than any other in the Tests, in exchange for a lack power that can be attributed to being the first time she skates in front of an audience. A bittersweet mix of feelings, with smiles and serious faces on her face, leaves a feeling of sadness pervading her. A long season ahead for the current winner of the Russian Nationals, so that this aura becomes a synonymous with triumph.
Medvedeva's strength, even bigger
It is not an easy year for Medvedeva. But it is well known that, under stress situations, the Muscovite manages to surpass itself, and all the expectations placed on her.
Canada, Japan, and Russia. The iceskater ‘locked up’ in Moscow due to the mandatory quarantines to get to Toronto, where Brian Orser, Tracy Wilson, and the whole Cricket Club are waiting for her. Training temporarily with Tatiana Tarasova, controlled via Skype by Orser, the Muscovite faces the season in an even more complex way than the rest. Only one thing moves Evgenia, and that is her unconditional love for skating.
It is for that reason that she came to the Tests with a back injury, but with a desire to show what she had in her hands. ‘’Masquerade’’, her short program, reminds in some way of ''Anna Karenina'', both of which suit Medvedeva perfectly.
Subtle, delicate, but joyful and hopeful. This is the essence of the choreography, which wraps you perfectly in the story that wants to tell the skating perfomance of the Olympic athlete. The SP with the most energy of all shown, and a hit on Evgenia's table to show that she will never get stuck.
And if ''Masquerade'' is delicate, ''Allegria'' is risky, innovative, perfectly eloquent, and in tune with the skater. Despite the tiredness, the injury, and all that surrounds the double Grand Prix winner, the potential of the program is clear to see just by looking at her face. The circus aura that she exudes creates a happy, unique, different show.
The choreography, by Shae-Lynn Bourne, is something never seen in her. An incredibly visual step sequences or the presence of a somersault are parts of an FS worthy of the maturity and tenacity of Evgenia. You can see in her that it is going to be a program to enjoy and to mark a different way. Because being close to her 21st birthday, her ingenuity on the icerinks seems inexhaustible.