The much-anticipated pairs short program at the 2020 Russian Championships was a series of thrills and spills.

Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov provided many of the thrills with their best performance of the season and perhaps in recent memory. They captured the lead with 83.91 points, bettering their highest score for a short program this season by a little more than seven points. Both their coach Marina Zoueva and former coach Maxim Trankov were at the boards for the short program. “We’re pleased that we were able to show a clean performance and to make our coaches, the spectators and ourselves happy. Now we will focus on the free,” Tarasova said.

Morozov added that the team made some changes to the program and did not stop working as they prepared for nationals. “We used the time for the preparation and it was quite successful.”

Coming off a disappointing fourth-place finish at the 2019 Grand Prix Final, Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii were back in their groove in Krasnoyarsk, and provided the first thrilling performance of the day. However, they sit in second with 80.39 points – well within striking distance of Tarasova and Morozov. “The Final is done – it is history. We drew our conclusions and we took the most important moments to prepare to show the maximum in the next event. We’re also happy. Honestly, it was a good, working performance,” said Boikova.

Daria Pavliuchenko and Denis Khodykin finished third with 76.13 points ahead of Alisa Efimova and Alexander Korovin (72.83).

Apollinariia Panfilova and Dmitry Rylov, the reigning Junior Grand Prix Final champions, skated into fifth with 71.51 points in their debut at senior nationals. “I can say that we skated well, a lot better than at the Junior Grand Prix Final. I haven’t seen the levels yet, but the quality of the elements was definitely better. However, we were not able to prepare the way we would have liked to due to Dmitry falling ill. We came here to present ourselves among the senior teams and I think fifth place at senior nationals is not a bad result for us.”

Rylov explained that he came down with a cold a few days before nationals but they still decided to attend, as “we’re not competing for a medal here.”

It was not the outing Anastasia Mishina and Alexander Galliamov had hoped for. The reigning Grand Prix Final bronze medalists had serious technical issues from beginning to end that left them in a distant eighth place with 67.73 points. Mishina fell on the throw triple flip, stumbled in the step sequence and lost her balance on the side-by-side spin. She was visibly upset at the end of the program.

“I don’t know the reason for these mistakes,” Mishina said. “I felt normal. We didn’t change anything in our preparation. Sometimes national events are more nerve-wracking than international competitions because it is a home atmosphere, and everyone speaks our language. But I don’t want to blame that for the mistakes.

Galliamov was nonplussed. ‘Tomorrow we’ll have training, and then take a walk to forget about figure skating a little. It will be a new day for us in the free skate.” With files from Tatjana Flade in Krasnoyarsk


LADIES UPDATE: Tatjana reports that one of Evgenia Medvedeva’s boots broke on Thursday and she will be competing in a new pair in the ladies short program on Dec. 27. Russian federation president Alexander Gorshkov later confirmed this to the press, saying, ″However, she is not thinking about withdrawing.″