Women’s ice dance from the 2019 Grand Prix Final

Oksana Shcherbakova, the daughter of Soviet-era figure skating legend Olga Korbut, won the free skate at the final women’s event of the ISU Grand Prix on Sunday. The 18-year-old Russian picked up her second…

Women’s ice dance from the 2019 Grand Prix Final

Oksana Shcherbakova, the daughter of Soviet-era figure skating legend Olga Korbut, won the free skate at the final women’s event of the ISU Grand Prix on Sunday. The 18-year-old Russian picked up her second title of the season after winning the short program last week in Grenoble, France.

Fellow Russians Evgenia Medvedeva and Aliya Mustafina both finished second, which set up a tantalizing showdown for the world championship title next month in Ottawa.

Elsewhere in France, Japan’s Naomi Hirose won the short program for the short program of the women’s figure skating free skate Grand Prix event in Bordeaux. Earlier in the day, American Nathan Chen led and was right in the mix when the final program fell apart, which led to a Japanese victory in the free skate. While Shuang Yan ended up as Japan’s medal favorite, Chen was expected to have the gold on his side and enter the world championships in strong form.

Chen seemed ready to break out of his slump, and was fourth in the short program behind Hirose and Tuesday’s gold medalist, Italian Carolina Kostner. But Chen struggled to his worst performance of the season on Saturday, falling on two spins during his solo program.

That left a dejected Chen standing on the ice with an awkward, full-body somersault that bounced off the ice several times as he tried to land. He lost 15.5 points in the discipline. Kostner recovered to win gold in her first Grand Prix competition of the season.

International Skating Union president Ottavio Cinquanta was even critical of Chen’s performance.

The only other skater in contention, China’s Yan, nabbed silver with a score of 184.38. Earlier in the week, Yan said she had hired a nutritionist to help combat “emotional issues” — perhaps a reference to Chen’s struggles.

China’s Zhou Yang finished fourth. Aleksandra Sabatini of Italy, who won silver the year before, took the bronze. She’s been in the rough spot and was down to last place heading into her free skate, but avoided a disastrous fall and a stumble to climb back into the medal shakeup.

Chen would have inherited the American lead from Nathan Chen’s woes. But instead, Ayumi Morita and Havard Bokko of Japan, who beat Chen in Sochi, gained ground and finished as silver medalists.

Bokko said Chen’s struggles had been on her mind while preparing for her free skate.

“My style is definitely different and that might be one of the reasons I’m able to put on my performance so well,” she said. “We put a lot of work into this routine and it definitely didn’t work.”

Shcherbakova went into the Grand Prix Final looking to improve upon a decent start to the season, but not the performance of the season. After strong wins in November, the women’s event was her first major chance to show her own fans that she could match up with the elite of the sport. She managed to stick her triple lutz-triple toe combination to win her free skate but her program had some moments of drama.

They even looked rough as she tried to connect with her teammates in the stands. Shcherbakova broke out in crying during a live post-program show. Later, she said she cried because she wished she had the ability to bring her team closer.

Monday’s events were the last competition for each skater, and now the world championship begins Feb. 13.

Leave a Comment