Event Previews

Rostelecom Cup 2021 Preview: Russia’s Cup Runneth Over

The 2021 Grand Prix series closes out its regular events this weekend with Rostelecom Cup, aka the Cup of Russia. This year’s installment will take place in Sochi, Russia, in the same venue used for the 2014 Winter Olympics, making it the second former Olympic venue to host a Grand Prix event this season after the Torino Palavela hosted the Grand Premio d’Italia. Can you tell it’s an Olympic season?

This event is also the last shot to qualify for the Grand Prix Final, which will be in Osaka, Japan in two weeks’ time. There are lots of mathematical possibilities for who could make the final cut, but let’s run through the most likely scenarios, as well as stories to watch through the rest of the field.

Men

This isn’t the most competitive men’s field we’ve seen this season, but there’s still plenty to watch out for in terms of Grand Prix Final qualification and beyond.

Mikhail Kolyada is certainly the favorite to take gold, and will most likely qualify for the Final based on the field here. Kolyada is guaranteed to qualify if he finishes first or second, and still has a good shot with score tiebreaks if he comes third. Kolyada hasn’t won an international Grand Prix (not including last year’s mainly domestic Rostelecom Cup) since 2017, the same year he qualified for the only Grand Prix Final of his career and finished third. Winning his home Grand Prix and making the Final would be a big boost for his Olympic campaign.

The second home skater, Evgeni Semenenko, can also qualify for the Final by winning this event, or by finishing second with a total competition score of 267.75 or higher to win the score tiebreak with Jason Brown. That’s over nine points above his personal best and nearly twelve points above his Skate Canada score, so Semenenko will need to pull out something special in order to grab that last spot.

The final Russian man, Mark Kondratiuk, is making his Grand Prix debut after withdrawing from the Junior Grand Prix earlier in the season. Kondratiuk was a breakout star of last season, finishing third at Russian Nationals and securing Russia’s third Olympic spot at Nebelhorn earlier this year, so he’s certainly in the running for the Russian Olympic team.

There’s also a mathematical possibility that Italian Matteo Rizzo could qualify for the Final, but he would need to win the event with Kolyada finishing no higher than fourth and Semenenko no higher than third. With how chaotic many of the men’s events have been, that certainly isn’t outside the realm of possibility, but it’s very unlikely.

SKATER/COUNTRYBEST SCORESNOTABLE RESULTS
Mikhail KOLYADA*
Russia
SP: 100.49
FS: 181.25
Total: 274.37
5th 2021 Worlds
2x European bronze medalist
Matteo RIZZO
Italy
SP: 93.37
FS: 176.18
Total: 260.53
3rd 2019 Europeans
11th 2021 Worlds
Keiji TANAKA
Japan
SP: 89.05
FS: 169.91
Total: 258.84
3x National medalist
2x Grand Prix medalist
Evgeni SEMENENKO*
Russia
SP: 88.86
FS: 172.60
Total: 258.45
8th 2021 Worlds
2021 Junior National Champion
Michal BREZINA
Czech Repuplic
SP: 93.31
FS: 167.32
Total: 257.98
4th GPF 2018
19th 2021 Worlds
Kazuki TOMONO
Japan
SP: 88.22
FS: 162.83
Total: 251.05
7th 2020 Four Continents
5th 2018 Worlds
Mark KONDRATIUK
Russia
SP: 84.79
FS: 165.29
Total: 250.09
3rd 2021 Nationals
3rd 2021 Nebelhorn
Morisi KVITELASHVILI
Georgia
SP: 89.94
FS: 163.94
Total: 248.58
3rd 2020 Europeans
14th 2021 Worlds
Roman SADOVSKY
Canada
SP: 89.61
FS: 168.99
Total: 247.50
2020 National Champion
3rd 2019 NHK Trophy
Camden PULKINEN
USA
SP: 89.05
FS: 155.73
Total: 244.78
2018 Junior National Champion
11th 2020 Four Continents
Nika EGADZE
Georgia
SP: 69.65
FS: 159.55
Total: 227.57
18th 2020 Junior Worlds
1st 2021 Cup of Austria
Brendan KERRY
Australia
SP: 85.89
FS: 147.63
Total: 224.44
20th 2018 Olympics
12th 2020 Four Continents
* Could qualify for the Grand Prix Final (have a medal already)

Women

Appropriate to the Russian Grand Prix, the women’s field here is incredibly deep. In a field of twelve skaters, the lowest personal best score would have finished 13th at last year’s World Championships, so there’s some serious talent in this pool.

In terms of Grand Prix Final qualification, there are three skaters with a serious chance and one who could pull off a shock upset. Kamila Valieva is no doubt the favorite here–as she will be in every competition she enters this season–and is guaranteed a spot in the Final if she finishes fourth or higher.

Elizaveta Tuktamysheva and Maiia Khromykh are in the exact same situation with a silver medal apiece, so they are both in the Final with a gold or silver medal, and most likely in even with a third place finish.

The biggest surprise could come from Belgian Loena Hendrickx. She has a bronze medal from Italy, which in any other field would give her a great shot at the Final, but in this particular event she would need to win or come second with a massive score to qualify ahead of Alena Kostornaia (though if she finishes second here ahead of two Russians, a huge score is probably a given).

Outside of qualification, there are plenty of interesting stories to track. American Mariah Bell is competing again this weekend and clinging to hopes of an Olympic spot, so she needs some strong, clean skates here to prove she deserves her place on the team. Eighth place finisher from Worlds, Austrian Olga Mikutina, will be making her Grand Prix debut after she unfortunately had to withdraw from NHK due to injury recovery. Every skater in this field has impressive scoring potential so it will really be an event to watch.

SKATER/COUNTRYBEST SCORESNOTABLE RESULTS
Kamila VALIEVA*
Russia
SP: 84.19
FS: 180.89
Total: 265.08
2020 Junior World Champion
2019 Junior GPF Champion
Elizaveta TUKTAMYSHEVA*
Russia
SP: 81.53
FS: 153.89
Total: 234.43
2nd 2021 Worlds
2015 World Champion
Maiia KHROMYKH*
Russia
SP: 72.04
FS: 154.31
Total: 226.35
4th 2020 Junior Worlds
5th Russian Nationals
Loena HENDRICKX*
Belgium
SP: 73.52
FS: 145.53
Total: 219.05
5th 2021 Worlds
5th 2018 Europeans
Mariah BELL
USA
SP: 71.26
FS: 142.64
Total: 212.89
9th 2019 Worlds
2nd 2020 Nationals
Eva-Lotta KIIBUS
Estonia
SP: 63.37
FS: 137.51
Total: 202.04
14th 2021 Worlds
7th 2020 Europeans
Ekaterina KURAKOVA
Poland
SP: 66.08
FS: 135.39
Total: 201.47
10th 2020 Europeans
2nd 2021 Nebelhorn
Olga MIKUTINA
Austria
SP: 67.18
FS: 131.59
Total: 198.77
8th 2021 Worlds
Rino MATSUIKE
Japan
SP: 66.41
FS: 126.62
Total: 193.03
2021 Jr. National Champion
3rd 2020 NHK Trophy
Viktoriia SAFONOVA
Belarus
SP: 66.67
FS: 128.27
Total: 192.49
14th 2020 Europeans
3rd 2021 Nebelhorn
Ekaterina RYABOVA
Azerbaijan
SP: 64.11
FS: 125.35
Total: 189.46
12th 2021 Worlds
6th 2020 Europeans
Madeline SCHIZAS
Canada
SP: 68.77
FS: 125.44
Total: 186.56
13th 2021 Worlds
3rd 2020 Nationals
* Could qualify for the Grand Prix Final (have a medal already)

Pairs

A bit of déjà vu: reigning World Champions, Mishina and Galliamov, will be favorites for gold and qualify for the Final with a finish of fourth or better. They already have the highest score of the Grand Prix, so this weekend will be about continuing to build momentum towards the Final, Nationals, and ultimately, the Olympic Games.

The younger Russian pair of Pavliuchenko and Khodykin can qualify for the Final by finishing first or second, or by finishing third with a score of 199.08 or better to beat Artemeva/Nazarychev in a tiebreak. Their personal best is about seven points higher than that, but their Skate Canada score was six points lower, so that tiebreak is in no way guaranteed.

And while they can’t qualify for the Final unless a bunch of crazy things happen, Moore-Towers and Marinaro certainly need some strong skates to hold onto their claim as the #1 Canadian team. Their Skate Canada appearance was well off of what they are capable of, and with James/Radford starting to get it together, they can’t really afford another outing like that.

TEAM/COUNTRYBEST SCORESNOTABLE RESULTS
Anastasia MISHINA / Aleksandr GALLIAMOV*
Russia
SP: 78.40
FS: 153.37
Total: 227.59
2021 World Champions
3rd 2019 GPF
Kirsten MOORE-TOWERS / Michael MARINARO
Canada
SP: 76.39
FS: 138.59
Total: 211.05
6th 2021 Worlds
3rd 2020 Four Continents
Daria PAVLIUCHENKO / Denis KHODYKIN*
Russia
SP: 76.59
FS: 131.61
Total: 206.56
2018 Junior World Champions
3rd 2020 Europeans
Nicole DELLA MONICA / Matteo GUARISE
Italy
SP: 73.70
FS: 131.51
Total: 205.14
8th 2021 Worlds
10th 2018 Olympic Games
Iasmina KADYROVA / Ivan BALCHENKO
Russia
SP: 67.53
FS: 125.41
Total: 192.94
3rd 2020 Russian Cup Final
6th 2020 Nationals
Audrey LU / Misha MITROFANOV
USA
SP: 64.95
FS: 125.08
Total: 190.03
5th 2018 Junior Worlds
2018 Jr. National Champions
Miriam ZIEGLER / Severin KIEFER
Austria
SP: 67.90
FS: 123.96
Total: 187.01
11th 2021 Worlds
6th 2020 Europeans
Ioulia CHTCHETININA / Mark MAGYAR
Hungary
SP: 55.27
FS: 106.66
Total: 158.87
14th 2021 Worlds
10th 2020 Europeans
* Could qualify for the Grand Prix Final (have a medal already)

Ice Dance

We round out the disciplines with another home favorite for gold: Sinitsina and Katsalapov. The reigning World Champions make it into the Final with a medal of any color, but clearly the target for the weekend will be gold and inching their way back into striking distance of Papadakis and Cizeron.

Italians Guignard and Fabbri are the likely favorites for silver, and will qualify for the Final with that placement or ever a bronze. Their only Grand Prix Final appearance was in 2018 where they finished third. Returning in an Olympic year would help boost their chances of joining the current three-way competition for bronze in Beijing.

Canadians Fournier Beaudry and Sorensen are mathematically still in the fight, but they would need to win or come second with Guignard/Fabbri finishing fourth or lower, so it’s very unlikely unless the Italians have some major mistakes.

Outside of the podium contenders, also keep an eye on Kaitlin Hawayak and Jean-Luc Baker who are back to competing after withdrawing from NHK while Hawayak recovered from a concussion. They’ve held onto the American #3 spit for a long time, but after a breakout Grand Prix from Green/Parsons, they’ll want to have some quality skates here to remind everyone why they deserve that Olympic spot.

TEAM/COUNTRYBEST SCORESNOTABLE RESULTS
Victoria SINITSINA / Nikita KATSALAPOV*
Russia
RD: 88.73
FD: 133.02
Total: 221.17
2021 World Champions
2020 European Champions
Charlene GUIGNARD / Marco FABBRI*
Italy
RD: 84.66
FD: 126.10
Total: 208.88
6th 2021 Worlds
3rd 2019 GPF
Laurence FOURNIER BEAUDRY / Nikolaj SOERENSEN*
Canada
RD: 81.16
FD: 119.84
Total: 201.00
8th 2021 Worlds
6th 2019 4CC
Anastasia SKOPTCOVA / Kirill ALESHIN
Russia
RD: 78.39
FD: 116.67
Total: 195.06
1st 2018 Junior Worlds
3rd 2020 Nationals
Kaitlin HAWAYEK / Jean-Luc BAKER
USA
RD: 79.52
FD: 116.70
Total: 194.77
2018 4CC Champions
3rd 2019-21 Nationals
Sara HURTADO / Kirill KHALIAVIN
Spain
RD: 77.03
FD: 117.39
Total: 193.47
11th 2021 Worlds
12th 2018 Olympics
Elizaveta KHUDAIBERDIEVA / Egor BAZIN
Russia
RD: 77.08
FD: 109.72
Total: 186.80
5th 2020 Nationals
Allison REED / Saulius AMBRULEVICIUS
Lithuania
RD: 73.41
FD: 106.89
Total: 180.13
15th 2021 Worlds
11th 2020 Europeans
* Could qualify for the Grand Prix Final (have a medal already)

How to Watch

Rostelecom Cup takes place November 26th – 28th in Sochi, Russia.

Starting Order and Results | ISU Color Schedule | Time Zone Conversions

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