Tuktamisheva jumps out ahead of veteran duo

Russian wunderkind holds advantage over Kostner, Czisny after error-free short

Russian Elizaveta Tuktamisheva has shown she's a force to be reckoned with.
Russian Elizaveta Tuktamisheva has shown she's a force to be reckoned with. (AFP)


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By Jean-Christophe Berlot, special to
(11/18/2011) - Elizaveta Tuktamisheva, who started her senior career with a gold medal at Skate Canada three weeks ago, won the ladies short program Friday night at 2011 Trophée Eric Bompard, ahead of Carolina Kostner of Italy and Alissa Czisny of the United States. Tuktamisheva enters Saturday's free skate 2.34 points ahead of Kostner and almost five points ahead of Czisny.

The ladies competition at this event is undoubtedly one of the most exciting Paris has ever witnessed, as three of the competitors have won a gold medal in the 2011 Grand Prix Series: Czisny at Skate America, Tuktamisheva at Skate Canada and Kostner at Cup of China.

Tuktamisheva skated a clean program to Astor Piazzolla's "Tango." Her triple Lutz-triple toe combination seemed totally effortless (it brought her 11.30 points!), and her triple loop was of millimetric precision. She received Level 2 for her layback spin, Level 3 for her circular step sequence and Level 4 for her two other spins.

"I got higher scores than at Skate Canada," she said. "Maybe judges know me better now ... or maybe I felt more confident."

Tuktamisheva's artistry and interpretation capabilities now need to be developed, a fact that was reflected in her component marks. Nonetheless, her technical elements were enough to secure her a victory by a margin of more than two points.

Kostner skates her short program to Dmitri Shostakovich's "Trio No. 2." She has always had a great talent for selecting just the right musical pieces, as if she wants to show her audience a whole new repertoire.

"Lori [Nichol, who choreographed this program] had picked that music for me last year already," she said, "Yet I did not quite understand it at the time. This year I thought that we would have a lot of fun choreographing it. In fact, when we did, all the little kids skating around us starting dancing along when they heard the music, so we knew that it would be fun!"

Dressed in a creative green-and-yellow-green skirt, Kostner delivered an elegant program, including a beautiful triple toe-triple toe combination and a triple loop. Her amplitude and speed were marred by a fall at the beginning of her circular step sequence, but she received a warm applause from the crowd.

She scored 59.70 points and the best components score in the field.

Czisny interpreted Edith Piaf's "La Vie en Rose" ("Life in Pink," in French) with an incredible "touch" of ice and emotion.

"Last year, Yuka [Sato, her coach] choreographed an exhibition program for me named 'Moon River'," Czisny explained. "We were looking for the same style of music for this year's short program. We looked and looked and could not find anything we liked. Then we said, 'What about 'La Vie en Rose?' Pasquale [Camerlengo] and Yuka then choreographed it."

The audience was quick to respond with deep concentration, which is always impressive in a big audience. Dressed in pink with silver sparkles, Czisny let a little toe interrupt her triple Lutz-triple toe combination.

She quickly composed herself to land a triple loop-double toe combination. Her majestic lines and unique spins garnered her a roaring ovation.

"Obviously, tonight was not my best skate," she said, "Yet I really enjoyed skating this program here in Paris."

Kanako Murakami of Japan sits in fourth after a dramatic program to Muse's "Violin," based on the rhythm of Bach's "Partita" and Maurice Ravel's "Bolero."