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Silver inspires tears, emotions for happy Leonova

Russian standout overwhelmed by second-place finish at worlds

Russia's Alena Leonova exceeded expectations by taking silver at the world championships.
Russia's Alena Leonova exceeded expectations by taking silver at the world championships. (Getty Images)

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By Vladislav Luchianov, special to icenetwork.com
(04/03/2012) - Russian skater Alena Leonova said she was going to the 2012 World Championships in Nice hoping to place higher than she did at the 2011 worlds in Moscow -- where she finished fourth -- and she is glad that she was able to achieve that goal.

Leonova performed her free skate program to "Adagio for Strings" and Requiem for a Dream with great energy and passion and without serious mistakes. She executed her triple toe-triple toe combination and four other triple jumps, but stepped out of a triple Lutz. However, Leonova couldn't hold onto the leader's spot, which she took after the short program, and lost it to Carolina Kostner of Italy, who performed flawlessly.

"My main goal was to perform better than it was in Moscow last year," the 2012 world silver medalist said. "The fourth place there was very disappointing to me. I've lost just a few to the bronze medalist (Kostner, who took the bronze at the 2011 worlds). I'm very happy about my performances here.

"My tears and emotions after the free skating were because of happiness," she said. "I managed to distract my mind from the fact that I was ranked first after the short program and was able to [do all things necessary to succeed as planned] on my free skate."

According to Leonova, the right words played a big role in her success, which were spoken to her by coach Nikoli Morozov before the free skate.

"Before my performance, my coach said that I'm the most beautiful and a very good skater, and that I can achieve everything." Leonova said.

During the day of her free skate, she tried to distract her mind and concentrate. However, she found time to support training mates Sergei Voronov of Russia and Florent Amodio of France, who performed their free skate programs earlier.

"Of course, I tried today to distract from anything but the boys did not give me the rest," Leonova said with a smile. "Florent and Sergei skated their programs very well. When I watched Brian Joubert's free skate, I already wanted to go to the ice.

"On Friday, I tried to think that competitions just started," she continued. "Also, I always remember the words of my coach that program begins again with every new element."

However, the pressure of the world championships is very high for everyone.

"I was nervous before the beginning of my free skating," she said. "My warm-up didn't turn out well; I couldn't execute even just a simple double axel. Everything has changed when the music started and I became concentrated only on my program."

Leonova also thinks that she can perform much better.

"I think I'm able to perform better," she said. "Especially in the free skating where is a big space for creativity. There you can show many different jumps, spins and step sequences. The first thing on which I have to work hard is a confidence."

Morozov thinks that his student achieved big results because she worked very hard all season.

"She was prepared for this championships," Morozov told Moscow News. "She had only one unsuccessful event in this season -- the European championships. I think this happened because she was over-scheduled. She shouldn't compete at the Russian nationals but Alena wanted to perform there. After the Europeans, we have developed a system and tactics, and everything turned out well here, in Nice.

"She is very hardworking person. I'm sure it will bring new results," Morozov said.