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Doronina repeats as Russian champion

Khokhlova/Novitski and Kawaguchi/Smirnov have good day as well

Yuko Kawaguchi and Alexander Smirnov (pictured) edged U.S. pairs team Chloe Katz and Joseph Lynch for ice dancing gold.
Yuko Kawaguchi and Alexander Smirnov (pictured) edged U.S. pairs team Chloe Katz and Joseph Lynch for ice dancing gold. (Getty Images)

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By Tatiana Flade / Special to icenetwork.com
(01/05/2008) - On the second day of 2008 Russian National Championships in St. Petersburg, Ksenia Doronina defended her national title ahead of Nina Petushkova and Olga Naidenova. Both Petushkova and Naidenova medaled for the first time at nationals. However, the overall level of competition was rather low.

Doronina started her program to "Tale of Travelling" by Alfred Schnittke strongly, hitting a triple flip, Lutz and loop before beginning to struggle. She stumbled out of a triple Salchow and popped her second Lutz and a toe loop. She placed third in the free skate but remained in first overall with 149.09 points.

"I enjoyed skating today a lot, although I wasn't able to do all of my elements", the 17-year-old said. "Last year it was a shock for me to win, because nobody expected it. This year I feel more confident, but it was hard to prove that I earned the title last year, and I am very happy not only to have finished in first place but to have defended my title." Doronina will now go on to Europeans and is aiming for a top-six placement.

Petushkova landed four triples, but doubled her flip. Like Doronina, she placed lower in the free skate than in the short program, but managed to hold on to second place overall at 146.99 points

. "To have medaled at nationals means a lot to me. Now, I will work harder to avoid the stupid mistakes in my free skating that I did today. I was hoping to medal here, but I somehow didn't really believe in it", the 15-year-old said.

Naidenova moved up from fourth with a total score of 145.34 points. The 20-year-old went for five triples, but appeared to have under rotated some of them. "I have been so many times at nationals, and it was my dream to win a medal", the Muscovite commented.

Katarina Gerboldt won the free skate and moved up from sixth to fourth at 144.64 points.

11-year-old Elizaveta Tuktamysheva finished eighth, but had the highest technical score of all 14 competitors with 46.98 points.

In the pairs event, Yuko Kawaguchi and Alexander Smirnov took the lead over defending champions Maria Mukhortova and Maxim Trankov, but both couples made errors. Kawaguchi and Smirnov seemed nervous, with Kawaguchi executing shaky triple toe and throw triple loops, and Smirnov exiting the side-by-side spin early. Despite a messy triple twist, the couple still surprisingly got a lot of positive GOEs on the elements and accumulated 66.30 points.

Mukhortova and Trankov were more polished and cleaner on their triple twist, throw triple Salchow and spin, but Mukhortova doubled the side-by-side triple toe. The couple picked up 62.26 points.

Youngsters Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov, who won the Junior Grand Prix Final in Gdansk, Poland, last month, turned in a strong performance that included a triple twist, double Axel and throw triple flip, but they got only a level one for their footwork and the death spiral. They came in third with 57.47 points and are followed by Ksenia Krasilnikova and Konstantin Bezmaternikh, who scored a solid 55.47 points for their performance.

As expected, ice dancers Jana Khohklova and Sergei Novitski strengthened their lead and delivered a consistent performance of their Gypsy routine to score 65.46 points in the original dance. All their elements were graded a level four. Overall, the Grand Prix finalists now have 106.78 points and are far ahead of second-ranked Ekaterina Rubleva and Ivan Shefer, who have 92.54 points.

"To be the clear leader probably gives us more confidence", Khokhlova said. "Technically, it wasn't our best today, but concerning the emotions, it probably was the best of the season so far", Novitski added. "To be the first couple means more responsibility. We also don't know yet if Maxim [Shabalin] will recover in time for Europeans."

Rubleva and Shefer showed improvement over their Grand Prix events in their Ukrainian Folk dance. Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev, the 2007 world junior champions, pulled up from fourth to third with 88.02 points so far. They were awarded a level four for all their elements, although Bobrova's twizzles in the side-by-side step sequence weren't completely clean. Natalia Mikhailova and Andrei Maximishin dropped one spot and are now in fourth at 85.80.