Russian Shcherbakova takes lead in women's short program at worlds

Anna Shcherbakova, Russia's three-time national champion, took over the lead with her performance in the free skate Wednesday. Canada's Madelina Schizas came in at ninth to qualify for the women's free program.

Canada's Schizas 9th; Russians also lead pairs, with Canadian duo sitting 10th

Russia's Anna Shcherbakova is the leading performer in the women's short program event at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Stockholm. (Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP via Getty Images)

The expected was seeing two Russians and a Japanese woman in the top three after the short program at the World Figure Skating Championships.

Less predictable was the two American skaters, helped by the struggles of other contenders, putting the United States in range of the maximum three berths at next year's Olympics.

  • That Figure Skating Show will be live on CBC Sports YouTube channel right after every #stockholm2021 short program. Join hosts Dylan & Asher & special guests as they react, provide insight and spill the tea on worlds.

Anna Shcherbakova, Russia's three-time national champion, won the free skate Wednesday. Shcherbakova's balletic performance flowed in a way none of the other competitors managed. Her triple lutz-triple loop combination was the most difficult of any tried, and she wore a huge smile leaving the ice.

"I am most satisfied with my combination, it was the hardest jump in my program and the most important one," Shcherbakova said.

WATCH | 16-year-old Shcherbakova leads after short program:

Russian Anna Shcherbakova leads after world championship women's short program

2 years ago
Duration 6:18
16-year-old Anna Shcherbakova scored 81.00 points to head into the women's free program in first place at the ISU world figure skating championships in Stockholm.

Her 81.00 points placed her nearly two points ahead of Japan's Rika Kihira, whose score was damaged by two under-rotated jumps, including a triple axel that only one other skater hit in the short program.

That was Russia's Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, whose last appearance at worlds came when she won it in 2015.

"A lot has happened in these past six years," she said, "but I think during these past few years I have become way more confident in this [triple axel] and today's performance I consider to be a little better than the one six years ago."

Madeline Schizas of Oakville, Ont., was ninth, while Vancouver's Emily Bausbeck was 27th and did not qualify for the final.

WATCH | Ontario's Madeline Schizas qualifies for free program:

Ontario's Madeline Schizas qualifies for world championship women's free program

2 years ago
Duration 5:55
Madeline Schizas of Oakville, Ont., finished the women's short program in ninth place with 68.77 points, which gains her entry into the women's free program at the ISU world figure skating championships in Stockholm.

Several medal threats, including Russia's other dynamo, Alexandra Trusova, struggled with falls and incomplete combinations. For the U.S. to get three spots in the women's field at the Beijing Games, Bradie Tennell and Karen Chen must finish a combined 13th or better.

Right now, they have a total of 11th place.

"I want to deliver the free skate that I know I'm capable of," Chen said after coming in fourth with a personal best 74.40. "I've yet to show that at Skate America or nationals, so I feel like this is the time.

"I'm really happy with how my performance went. I gave it my all."

Chen was the bronze medallist at nationals but was placed on the U.S. team ahead of runner-up Amber Glenn because of her international experience.

WATCH | That Figure Skating Show: Women's short program:

That Figure Skating Show... But make it LIVE! Women's short program

2 years ago
Duration 36:24
Hosts Asher Hill and Dylan Moscovitch share their initial reaction to the women's short program at the ISU world figure skating championships in Stockholm, and invite superstar guest and 2018 world champion Kaetlyn Osmond along for the ride.

Tennell, who has won two U.S. titles, was energetic but flawed in winding up seventh.

"I think my timing was just a bit off," Tennell admitted. "It's very strange because my [triple] lutz combo is one of my most solid jumps so I'm pretty disappointed with that skate. I've been skating a clean short program every single day since nationals, so to come here and put out a program like that is very surprising to me and I'm pretty unhappy with it, actually. I think I really let myself down there."

Trusova, coached by 2006 Olympic champion Evgeni Plushenko, seemed nervous and rushing through her program. She only attempted a double axel, but more significant was a major error on her jump combination, stepping out of her triple lutz and failing to complete the combo.

It was a surprisingly weak showing for a Russian woman — they have dominated the sport in the past seven years — and dropped Trusova to 12th.

"I think I didn't manage with my nerves; lately I feel very nervous at the competitions," she said.

The women's free skate is Friday. There are no fans at the Ericsson Globe for worlds, which were cancelled in Montreal last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shcherbakova was thrilled to simply be competing at a world championship.

"The best moment is that we're here, because it's the first international competition this year," she noted. "I was very sad when the previous international competitions were cancelled."

France's Mae-Berenice Meite withdrew after tearing her left Achilles tendon during her program.

Russians lead pairs, too

With an exquisite short program to "Merry Go Round Of Life," Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii of Russia took the short program by 2.54 points over two-time world winners Sui Wenjing and Han Cong of China.

WATCH | Boikova, Kozlovskii in control after pairs short program:

Russians Boikova and Kozlovskii skate to lead after world pairs short program

2 years ago
Duration 6:43
Russians Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitri Kozlovskii scored 80.16 points to lead after the pairs short program at the ISU world figure skating championships in Stockholm.

Russia's other two pairs were third and fourth: Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov, followed by Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov heading into Thursday's free skate.

Kirsten Moore-Towers of St. Catharines, Ont., and Michael Marinaro of Sarnia, Ont., were 10th, while Evelyn Walsh of London, Ont., and Trent Michaud of Trenton, Ont., were 12th.

WATCH | Moore-Towers, Marinaro sit 10th:

Canadians Moore-Towers and Marinaro struggle to top-10 spot in world pairs short program

2 years ago
Duration 6:16
Canadian duo Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro scored 63.45 points to finish in tenth place after the pairs short program at the ISU world figure skating championships in Stockholm.

The U.S. tandems are not in contention for the podium against the Russians and Chinese, but fared very well. National runners-up Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy LeDuc were sixth, followed by U.S. champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier in seventh. No American pair has won a world medal since 2002.

"It's very exciting to be back amongst all of the other international athletes," said Knierim, who went to the 2018 Olympics with husband Chris, now retired. "This is our first competition like this as a pair, so we're just learning as we go and enjoying it together."

THAT FIGURE SKATING SHOW | Eric Radford breaks down Canadians' short program:

'A fight of a skate': Eric Radford on Kirsten Moore-Towers & Michael Marinaro's short program

2 years ago
Duration 1:38
Two-time pairs world champion Eric Radford felt how tough the Canadian pairs' skate was, but remains certain they can work out the inaccuracies before the free program.

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