2021 World Championships: Day 3 Recap

Today the ice dance finally got underway and we crowned a new women’s champion. With half of the medals given out and half to go tomorrow, there’s plenty to unpack from Day 3 of action at the World Championships.

Ice Dance Rhythm Dance

Ice dance is generally the most predictable of the figure skating disciplines, but there has been some extra excitement injected into this year’s event by the absence of four-time World champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron. Instead the battle will between the North American teams and Russian teams for the top step of the podium with a brand-new champion guaranteed.

Standings

#1 Sinitsina/Katsalapov – FSR: 88.15 (TES: 49.55, PCS: 38.60)

Sinitsina and Katsalapov topped the day’s standings with the highest tech and component scores, but the second highest base value. They came in as the favorites after beating Papadakis and Cizeron at Europeans last year, but they’ve had their fair share of issues this season, between injuries and COVID that left Victoria with “serious lung damage,” so there were questions about how their conditioning would stand up in such a competitive field. In this rhythm dance they didn’t show obvious signs of any issues and put out a strong skate to secure the lead.

#2 Hubbell/Donohue – USA: 86.05 (TES: 48.34, PCS: 37.71)

Hubbell and Donohue actually had a slightly higher base value–the only difference being a level 4 on the pattern for Hubbell vs. a level 3 for Sinitsina–but received about a point and a half less in GOE and were about a point lower in PCS. Their new “Burlesque” rhythm dance for this season really highlights their power and ice coverage as a team and they find themselves just over two points off the lead.

#3 Chock/Bates – USA: 85.15 (TES: 47.38, PCS: 37.77)

Rounding out the podium places, the other American team of Chock and Bates got level 3 on their twizzles for both partners, which made up most of the score difference to second place. They actually just beat Hubbell/Donohue in PCS, so are about even in the judges’ eyes and the free dance will come down to whoever can get their levels.

#4 Gilles/Poirier – Canada: 83.37 (TES: 45.88. PCS: 37.49)

The lead Canadian team had a solid program but were let down technically by a level 2 Finnstep and level 2 pattern from Gilles. On PCS they were just behind the Americans and on par with Stepanova and Bukin, so should get a relatively favorable look in the free dance if they skate well again.

#5 Stepanova/Bukin – FSR: 83.02 (TES: 45.62. PCS: 37.40)

Stepanova and Bukin had visibly the worst rhythm dance among the top six, with Stepanova stumbling in both the Finnstep and the pattern. Nonetheless, they received level 3 for both elements and were not strongly penalized in GOE; the Finnstep received mostly 3s with a handful of 2s and a 4, and the pattern received mostly 2s with only one judge going as low as a zero. Based on previous competitions, fifth is the lowest anyone probably expected them to go, but based on the performances today they should probably be lower or at least have a bigger gap to the top teams.

Who Had a Good Day?

The Disco Brits

Fear and Gibson, who finished 13th at their last Worlds, ended the day in 8th place, well on track for a top ten finish that would give the British team a chance for two Olympic spots (with Fear’s younger sister and her partner Waddell possibly getting the nod for Team GB’s number two spot). They also received a few 9s in PCS which put them almost tied with the Canadian team of Fournier Beaudry/Sorensen in components and a level above teams like Zagorski/Guerreiro and Hawayak/Baker, so their stock clearly continues to rise in judges’ opinions.

Who Had a Bad Day?

Finnstep Levels

Despite this being the second year that the pattern has been in use, not a single team managed to get a level 4 on their Finnstep. Sure, breaks in ice time this season will have had an impact and maybe drilling patterns hasn’t been the focus, but the most important element of the rhythm dance deserve a bit more attention. This was the last we’ll see of the Finnstep as the patten gets switched out for next season and sadly, it was quite a lackluster farewell.

Women’s Free Skate

Final Standings

  1. Anna Shcherbakova – FSR: 233.17
  2. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva – FSR: 220.46
  3. Alexandra Trusova – FSR: 217.20

The Figure Skating Federation of Russia completed the first sweep of the women’s podium since the USA took the top three places in 1991.

Free Skate Standings

#1 Alexandra Trusova – FSR: 4F!, 4S(fall), 4Lz+3T, 2A, 4Lz< (fall), 4T<<+1Eu+3Sq, 3Lz+3T / 152.38 (TES: 88.04, PCS: 66.34)

Despite falls on two jumps and serious issues on a combo, the base value of Trusova’s five-quad layout (plus mistakes from others and help from the judges) was enough to win the free skate and pull her from twelfth place to third overall. Even though she had those serious mistakes and most of the choreography was removed from the program to make room for the jumps, Trusova was given PCS in line with skaters who went clean with much better components. She’s clearly an unreal talent, and it’s nothing against her personally, but relative to other skaters, the scores for Trusova were just far too generous.

#2 Anna Shcherbakova – FSR: 4Fq(fall), 3F+3T, 2A, 2A, 3Lz, 3F+1Eu+3S, 3Lz+3Lo / 152.17 (TES: 80.32, PCS: 72.85)

Skating last, Shcherbakova had the benefit of knowing how others before her had faltered and opted for a less ambitions layout than originally planned. She fell on her opening quad flip, but then only attempted triples and double Axels, all of which were landed cleanly. She had some spin issues that weren’t penalized very harshly, and her components were high compared the skaters from other countries of a similar level, but across both programs, she had the strongest competition in the field and deserved to win the gold.

#3 Elizaveta Tuktamysheva – FSR: 3A+2T, 3A, 3Lz+3Tq, 3F<(fall), 2A+1Eu+3S, 3Lz, 3Lo / 141.60 (TES: 73.52, PCS: 69.08)

In her return to Worlds after a six-year absence, 24-year-old Tuktamysheva didn’t have a perfect skate, but did enough to earn a silver medal, which is an incredible accomplishment when many thought she’d never make it out of Russia again. She turned out of her first triple Axel and fell on a triple flip but skated mostly clean otherwise. PCS overscoring notwithstanding, her second-place podium step was well earned based on what she put out in both programs.

#4 Loena Hendrickx – Belgium: 3Lz+3T, 2A, 3F, 3Lz, 3F+2T+2Lo, 2A+2Lo, 3S / 141.16 (TES: 74.53, PCS: 66.63)

Possibly the skate of the day, Hendrickx recovered from tenth to fifth and was the only skater in the top nine without a jump call, pop, or fall. This was her best placement ever at a World Championships and her top-ten finish also gives Belgium the chance to qualify a second Olympic spot in the fall, so a great day all around for her.

#5 Kaori Sakamoto – Japan: 2A, 3F+3T, 3Lze, 3S, 2A+3T+2T, 3F+2T, 3Lo / 137.42 (TES: 69.72, PCS: 67.70)

In another outstanding free skate, Kaori Sakamoto nailed all of her elements except for getting an edge call on her triple Lutz–just as she did in the short program–and a V on her final spin. Despite an outstanding performance, her scores again felt suspiciously low and she finished the event in sixth place overall.

#6 Karen Chen – USA: 2A+3Tq, 3Lz, 3F!q, 3Lo, 3Lzq+2T+2Lo, 3S<, 3Lo+2T / 134.23 (TES: 66.34, PCS: 67.89)

In a repeat of her outstanding 2017 performance, Karen Chen came in clutch for the USA’s Olympic qualifying chances and finished just off the podium in fourth place. Though she skated with great conviction and stayed on her feet, her jumps were plagued by underrotations, which substantially lowered the technical mark. But for skating with so much pressure on her shoulders, she did a remarkable job.

Who Had a Good Day?

Team USA’s Olympic Dreams

Despite a less-than-ideal skate from Bradie Tennell, her ninth place finish coupled with Karen Chen’s fourth place gives the US exactly what they needed in order to have a shot at three Olympic spots. Due to the new qualification rules, Team USA will need to send someone other than Tennell or Chen to Nebelhorn Trophy in the fall in order to lock in that spot, but the team did all they could this week and should leave very satisfied.

Lindsay van Zundert

Skating first in both the short program and the free skate, sixteen-year-old Lindsay van Zundert skated two clean, personal best programs to finish in sixteenth place overall. That placement means she qualified an Olympic place for The Netherlands, who haven’t sent a figure skater to the Winter Games since 1976.

Josefin Taljegard

The Swedish skater put up a second clean program at her home Worlds, and while there wasn’t a full arena cheering her on, she was heavily encouraged by all of the volunteers who gave her plenty of support throughout the weekend her fifteenth place finish here will likewise qualify a spot for Sweden at the 2022 Olympics.

Who Had a Bad Day?

Rika Kihira

Sitting in second place after the short program and aiming to land her first quad in competition, Rika Kihira was skating with all of the pressure in the world and the potential to pick up her first Worlds medal after missing the 2019 podium by 0.31 points. Unfortunately, today was not her day and she had a number of technical errors, including two falls and no ratified triple Axel in the free (one popped and one downgraded). Her short program performance shows that she is capable of competing with the Russians when she’s on form, so hopefully she is able to put this performance behind her and focus on putting together a strong Olympic season.

Satoko Miyahara

After a disappointing short program with two falls, Satoko Miyahara again had multiple falls in the free skate and a handful of underrotations to finish in 19th place overall. This marks the first time Miyahara has ever finished outside of the top six in her senior career, a very uncharacteristic result for a skater who is usually so consistent, and not what she will have been hoping for on her 23rd birthday.

Coming Up Next – Saturday, March 27th Schedule

Men’s Free Skate – 11am local time (GMT+1) / 6am EST

The men’s event wraps up tomorrow and there’s likely to be plenty of movement in the top spots. Catch up with what happened in the short program in yesterday’s recap.

Ice Dance Free Dance – 5pm local time (GMT+1) / 12pm EST

And finally, competition closes with the free dance as multiple teams try to take the crown and their maiden World title. Going into the Olympic season as reigning World champions can surely give a team a big boost, so there will definitely be plenty of drama to look forward to.

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