Entering Saturday’s ladies’ free skate at the Rostelecom Cup in Moscow, it didn’t look like Courtney Hicks could hope to find herself on the podium. But looks can be deceiving.
Slotted in sixth place after Friday’s short program, Hicks sat in the middle of the pack, 5.57 points behind Russia’s Julia Lipnitskaia who was in third. The youngest Russian to win an Olympic title when she helped the team to gold in Sochi, Lipnitskaia was entering a jump sequence about two minutes into her program when she slowed, then ended her skate, apparently due to a leg injury.
That put the bronze medal up for grabs among Hicks and two other skaters clustered within half a point of each other. The 20-year-old, skating in the land of her mother’s grandparents, made the most of the opportunity, posting a free skate personal best score of 119.30 to outduel China’s Li Zijun and Elizabet Tursynbaeva of Kazakhstan to seize the bronze medal. Her overall score of 182.98 was 1.15 points ahead of Li. Russians Anna Pogorilaya and Elena Radionova finished first and second, respectively.
In three grand prix events thus far this season, U.S. skaters have raked in two golds, six silvers and two bronzes for a total of 10 medals, two-thirds of the total of 15 won on last year’s grand prix circuit by Americans. The 10 medals put the U.S. at the top of the medals table, ahead of Canada’s nine (four golds, one silver, four bronzes) and the eight by Russia (three golds, two silvers, three bronzes).
The grand prix series continues with the Trophée de France Nov. 11-13 in Paris, followed by the Cup of China Nov. 18-20 in Beijing and the NHK Trophy Nov. 25-27 in Sapporo, Japan. The Grand Prix Final is set for Dec. 8-11 in Marseilles, France.
Hicks is assigned to skate in Beijing.