Valieva, Tomono lead at figure skating’s Rostelecom Cup

SOCHI, Russia (AP) — Kamila Valieva scored a world-best 87.42 points to lead the short program at the Rostelecom Cup on Friday, with Kazuki Tomono heading the men’s field at the Grand Prix figure skating event.

Skating a program which she told Russian media was dedicated to the memory of her late grandmother, the 15-year-old Valieva started with a triple axel and followed up with a triple flip and a triple lutz-triple toe loop combination.

The Russian finished with a seven-point lead over former world champion Elizaveta Tuktamysheva. Valieva’s score was nearly two points higher than the previous best score of 85.45, set by Alena Kostornaia, since the scoring system was changed in 2018.

American skater Mariah Bell was third ahead of Saturday’s free skate with 69.37 points, a major improvement after placing 10th in the short program at her last competition in France.

Tomono leads the men’s competition after the short program as he bids for his first career Grand Prix win. The Japanese skater landed a quadruple toe loop-triple toe loop combination and a quad salchow on his way to a score of 95.81 points.

Morisi Kvitelashvili of Georgia was second with a personal-best 95.37 points. Kvitelashvili is coached by Eteri Tutberidze, better known for coaching a string of world and Olympic champion female skaters. Roman Sadovsky of Canada was third with 84.59 points.

The home favorites underperformed, with Mikhail Kolyada fourth and Evgeni Semenenko seventh, while Italian skater Matteo Rizzo was ninth. Camden Pulkinen of the United States was fifth.

Russia is on track for a podium sweep in the pairs competition, where Daria Pavliuchenko and Denis Khodykin lead with 73.91 points after the short program. Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov were second with 73.64 points, and Iasmina Kadyrova and Ivan Balchenko third with 69.39.

Another Russian win is likely in ice dance, with world champions Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov in first place after the short dance with 86.81 points. They are seven points ahead of Italian pair Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri, and 10 ahead of Canadian duo Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Soerensen.

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