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Sotnikova earns third national title in four years

Bazarova and Larionov take advantage of depleted pairs field to grab first Russian crown

Adelina Sotnikova followed up her win at the Junior Grand Prix Final by taking her third Russian championship in four years.
Adelina Sotnikova followed up her win at the Junior Grand Prix Final by taking her third Russian championship in four years. (Getty Images)

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By Vladislav Luchianov, special to icenetwork.com
(12/28/2011) - The Russian Figure Skating Championships concluded Tuesday night with the pairs and ladies free skate programs. The main event of the day was the ladies competition, in which there were several serious contenders for the podium.

Adelina Sotnikova, 15, became a three-time national champion. She wasn't perfect in her free skate, but she had a good advantage in points after the short program and won the competition with an overall score of 193.71. Second place went to Julia Lipnitskaia, who impressed the audience with her clean, high-level and breathtaking performances. Alena Leonova showed she's a real fighter, earning the bronze with 178.15 points despite mistakes in both programs.

"The main thing to me is to skate clean my programs at any competition," Sotnikova told the press. "I'm happy with my third national title and with my clean short program. Unfortunately, not everything went well in my free skate, so I will work on improving my programs."

The winner of the Junior Grand Prix Final, Lipnitskaia was the biggest surprise of these nationals. She performed both of her programs clean, easy and confidently despite their high level of difficulty.

"I didn't feel the pressure at the championships," Lipnitskaia said. "My main goal was to skate everything I planned clean."

Leonova, the Grand Prix Final bronze medalist, took great pleasure in reuniting with all her skating friends at nationals.

"I'm very happy that I participated at nationals," she said. "I was so glad to see all our skaters. We so rarely see each other."

Elizaveta Tuktamisheva, won both of her Grand Prix events and finished fourth at the Final, had an optimistic view of her sixth-place finish at the competition.

"I was in a very good mood before nationals and didn't feel any pressure. I already have good experience on the international senior stage, so I absolutely wasn't nervous," she said. "I tried to do my best; I tried very much, but sometimes things don't happen as we plan."

In the absence of the favorites -- Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov and Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov missed nationals due to injuries -- Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov took the national pairs title with 194.86 points. The silver medal was earned by the team of Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov, who earned 182.13 points. The main surprise of the pairs event was the bronze medal won by the young couple of Anastasia Martiusheva and Sergei Rogonov, who earned 179.94 points.

"We didn't think about the placements on the podium or that we were the favorites of the championships," said Bazarova and Larionov, who were not pleased with their performance in the free skate. "We think that it's much more difficult to compete at home-based competitions."

Based on the results of the competition, and taking into account the age limit, the skaters who will represent Russia at senior international competitions the rest of the season are:

Men's: Evgeni Plushenko, Artur Gachinski, Sergei Voronov
Ladies: Leonova, Ksenia Makarova, Polina Korobeynikova*
Pairs: Volosozhar/Trankov, Kavaguti/Smirnov, Bazarova/Larionov
Ice Dancing: Ekaterina Bobrova/Dmitri Soloviev, Elena Ilinykh/Nikita Katsalapov, Ekaterina Riazanova/Ilia Tkachenko

*Korobeynikova's spot at the European Championships in Sheffield may be given to Sofia Biryukova because of the quick turnaround time for a British visa application.