No surprise, Russia crushed the competition at the 2022 European Figure Skating Championships -- despite errors from their superstar skaters, the country went one-two-three on the podium. Kamila Valieva topped every competitor in the tournament, and now looks to conquer the world at the 2022 Winter Olympics.
After posting the highest-ever score in the short program -- breaking her own world record -- the 15-year-old Valieva set sky-high expectations for her free skate. She tumbled during a triple Axel early in her routine, causing the audience to gasp and cutting into her grade of execution. Valieva then completed three near-perfect quads. "She proved she's human after all," said commentator Tara Lipinski. Discussing the Olympics, Lipinski added: "You don't want to leave the door open for someone like [Alexandra] Trusova if she has the skate of her life that day."
Valieva scored 168.61 points -- far from her personal best -- for a 259.06 total.
"The plan for Kamila Valieva was to win everything this season," commentator Terry Gannon said. "The plan is working."
"Every element feels like the diamond standard of what we're watching," commentator Johnny Weir said.
It was quads, quads, quads for the three top Russian skaters -- Valieva, Trusova, and Anna Shcherbakova.
Shcherbakova must have felt nerves following a bad spill in her short program. But she reminded us why she's the world No. 1 in a brilliant free skate, posting 168.37 points for a 237.42 combined total -- and second-place finish.
"She was the winner of the day for me," Weir said, noting her near-flawless routine.
This time, Trusova's ambitious program contained some bad spills. Trusova took a 4.75-point grade of execution hit during her first fall, and tripped again later in her highly technical skate. Despite those stumbles, "what she's doing is tremendous" said Weir. She earned 159.23 points with her free for a 234.36-point combined total, which ultimately landed her in third.
The European Championships may not have gone perfectly for the world's best skaters. But the results should solidify the Russian team for the 2022 Winter Olympics.