The Samara stage of the Russian Grand Prix showed the world of figure skating two heroes at once: Pyotr Gumennik exceeded the 300-point mark for the first time in his career, and Ksenia Sinitsyna returned to the ice after breaking her leg and won her debut victory.
At first glance, the achievements are incomparable. 300 points is effectively a guarantee of the podium, or at least the fight for it, at any major tournament, including the Olympic Games. This is an unspoken sign that you are in the elite and can do anything. Finally, it was just beautiful: both programs of the St. Petersburg athlete this season fell on him like a glove, and this greatly strengthens the perception.
In comparison, Sinitsyna's victory looks much more modest. Nevertheless, I want to write about it.
Forgive the shabby turn of phrase, but if this skater didn't exist, she would definitely be worth inventing. At least to understand what the second grade in figure skating is. I would venture to say that no other singles skater in the world slides and feels the music and the image of Svetlana Panova's ward.
Sinitsyna's free skate in Samara turned out to be almost perfect, as well as the short program, but after a metatarsal fracture diagnosed in September, the athlete had to take a forced break, and she began full-fledged training a couple of weeks before the start of the fifth stage of the Grand Prix.
The only (so far) victory is, of course, not a reason to declare Ksenia the favorite. Even if we exclude Adelia Petrosyan with her still existing quadruple jumps, Sinitsyna's overall result will remain third after Sofia Muravyova and Alina Gorbacheva. It is clear that it is not entirely correct to compare the results shown at different tournaments, but this allows you to assess the overall picture. For example, to see that in terms of the basic difficulty of the free program, Sinitsyna is predictably inferior to Petrosian, but confidently shares the second position with Muravyova.
Is further technological progress possible? On the one hand, 19 years old is not the right age to start mastering ultra-C, but Ksenia, firstly, had already tried to perform a quadruple jump when she was a junior, and secondly, before the injury happened, the coaching team planned to complicate it. My coach even said about it a year ago: if you have a quad in your arsenal, it allows you to combine other jumps as advantageously as possible.
"After all, the quadruple is usually in the first half of the program, and if it doesn't work out, you can kind of compensate for the first half with the second half. At the beginning of the program, Sonya Akatieva had two quadruple toe loops and a triple axel. That is, the three elements of ultra-C. That's why she can afford to jump sequences with an oiler-salchow, with a triple toe loop and an axel – in this regard, she has "complete minced meat", as I like to say," Panova added.
So far, Sinitsyna's "complete mincemeat" has been seen only in what theoretically should constitute the second assessment. First of all, in absolutely impeccable skate control.
Hence the incredible visual ease of skating and expressiveness. In fact, Panova herself has always emphasized that these qualities come only through very serious and painstaking work on sliding. And that's what the group always pays a lot of attention to.
It is absolutely impossible not to wonder: why is such performing skill not properly appreciated in modern times? Probably, because the second grade in figure skating has long reflected the length of service, belonging to a particular coaching staff, the authority of the athlete in the eyes of the judges, his titles - that is, anything but what it should reflect.
After all, even if we recall the departure of Sasha Trusova and Alyona Kostornaya from Khrustalny and a rather sudden return to the same headquarters a season later, it was largely dictated by the desire of the skaters to be judged "as before".
For the same reason, I believe, Sinitsyna's scores for components in Samara were lower than those of Kamila Valieva, who ruined her free skate a week earlier in Kazan.
Will Ksenia be able to prove that her success will not remain isolated? Not really. In order to remain competitive in the company of all the strongest Russian singles athletes (that is, at the same national championship), you need stability, you need a higher functional readiness, and almost two months of treatment and missed training sessions are not too much help in this.
But if one of the Russian singles players manages to break the existing refereeing stereotypes, I would call Sinitsyna's chances the most preferable.
Therefore, in fact, I would like to wish her good luck.