Successful Europeans in Bratislava

Bratislava, the capital of Slovak Republic, hosted a very successful European Championship end of January 2016. Not only there were excellent and emotional performances, but the event was extremely well attended and the audience at Ondrej Nepela Arena was very knowledgeable. For the weekend events the organizers even had to add extra seating rows as the demand for tickets was so high.

Volosozhar/Trankov golden in Bratislava

Tatiana Volosozhar/Maxim Trankov of Russia took their fourth European title since 2012 Saturday in Bratislava. Germany’s Aliona Savchenko/Bruno Massot claimed the silver medal in their debut as a team at the event while Russians Evgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov repeated as bronze medalists.

Volosozhar/Trankov turned in a dramatic performance to “Dracula” and nailed a big triple twist, triple Salchow-double toeloop combination, throw triple flip and loop. However, he stumbled on the side by side triple toe. The reigning Olympic Champions posted a seasons best of 142.89 points and totaled 222.66 points. “It was a very hard start to the day. We had an early practice then we stayed here in the rink before the free program because we had no time to go to the hotel. The schedule is crazy. I don’t know why since 2014 the organizers have made the schedule so crazy for pairs, when we have these hard elements. All pairs skaters are very unhappy about this. The European Championships is the most horrible competition for pair skaters”, Trankov critizised. Several pairs made errors on the lifts and Trankov felt that this was due to the training and competition schedule for the pairs. Looking forward, the 32-year-old pointed out that what they did in Bratislava won’t be enough to win in Boston. “Today will not be enough because we have the Chinese and Canadians at Worlds. We know what we need to do for Europeans. We are going for victory at this competition but when we go to fight with Ksiusha (Ksenia Stolbova) and Fedia (Fedor Klimov) and with the Canadians and Chinese couples it is quite different and we have to have more difficult combinations and we cannot lose levels on the lifts and the spins like this morning. We must have everything at level 4 and skate a clean program”, he said.

Savchenko/Massot opened their routine to “Sometimes” by Wax Tailor with their impressive triple twist and followed up with a side by side triple Salchow, throw triple flip and Salchow. However Massot aborted the reverse lasso lift and also struggled with the hand-to-hip lift. Both lifts had no value. Massot, who turned 27 on Thursday, also doubled the first toe in the planned triple toe-triple toe sequence. The German Champions scored 125.24 points for their long program and finished n second at 200.78. “I’m really happy with the silver medal in our first Europeans together. Of course I’m unhappy because of the mistake on the lift. We never miss that lift, especially as Bruno is really strong. Now we need to go and think about what we need to change in our practices so it doesn’t happen again”, Savchenko commented. “I’m upset about my mistakes. I usually never miss a jump or a lift. But I’m very happy with our result and with the silver medal”, Massot added.

Skating to “Nocturne” by Frederic Chopin, Tarasova/Morozov completed a high triple twist (no surprise, they have been doing a quad already), triple Salchow, level-four lifts and a throw triple Salchow. But there were some errors: Tarasova doubled a toeloop and stumbled on the throw triple loop. The 2014 World Junior silver medalists picked up 127.38 points for the free and had 197.55 points overall.” To be honest, we expected more from ourselves. We made some mistakes. I blame it, first of all, to a very awkward schedule. Pairs had never started so early in the morning. We had our practice today at 8.40. So, we woke up at 6.30. I felt almost as I was in space”, Morozov noted. But overall the team was pleased with their result and the progress they’ve made. “I think we have taken a big step since last year. The place is the same, it’s a bronze. But I think it is a more difficult competition this year, there are more difficult (stronger) couples in the competition with us today and we looked good”, the pair skater explained.

Vanessa James/Morgan Cipres of France pulled up from fifth to fourth with a solid performance. They tried the quadruple throw Salchow for the first time in competition, but she stepped out of the landing. The French accumulated 185.55 points. They had missed the death spiral in the short program. Italy’s Valentina Marchei/Ondrej Hotarek recovered from a fall on the throw triple Lutz in the short program with a stronger performance in the free to move up from eighth to fifth (182.61 points). Nicole Della Monica/Matteo Guarise (ITA) remained in sixth place (178.97 points).

No match for Fernandez in Europe

Spain’s Javier Fernandez easily took his fourth consecutive European title in Bratislava Thursday night. The World Champion won with 60 points to spare ahead of Alexei Bychenko and Maxim Kovtun of Russia. Bychenko won Israel’s first ever figure skating medal at the European Championships.

Fernandez touched down with his hand on his opening quadruple toleoop, but then nailed a beautiful quadruple Salchow-triple toeloop combination, triple Axel-double toe and another quad Salchow. He only crashed on the second triple Axel. The Spaniard sold his playful “Guys and Dolls” program well to the judges and audience and picked up five perfect 10.0s for performance, choreography and interpretation. The now four-time European Champion earned 200.23 points and racked up 307.77 points, becoming the second skater in history since Yuzuru Hanyu to crack the 300 points barrier. “It doesn’t matter how many times you win something, if it the first time or second time, it is always special. It is so important to keep making history in my home and in figure skating. To be among those great figure skaters who have won this title four times in a row is such a special thing. I am so happy for today and so happy to get four titles in a row but I don’t want this to finish today I want it to continue”, Fernandez said. “There’s still a little bit to do on the program. We have to work on a couple of things. We added the second triple Axel to the program and I thought it was really slow in the program so I have to go back to training to make it more confident and so I don’t make these mistakes in the next competition which is Worlds”, he added.

Bychenko turned in a solid program to “Les Miserables”, hitting a quadruple-single toeloop, a triple Axel as well as six more triple jumps, but he went down on his second quad toe. Although he ranked fourth in the free as he did in the short, he overall took silver with 242.56 points. “I don’t know what to say about coming second, I’m beyond excited. I secretly hoped I would be on the podium, but I didn’t think I could get second place. It feels nice to make history”, the 27-year-old commented.

The performance could have been better, but it also could have been worse. I made a big mistake with a fall on second quad. Still have to work on some things, but in general it was good”, he explained.

Kovtun skated next to last and maybe it was too much pressure. He stepped out of the opening quad Salchow and then crashed badly on the quad toe. The Russian Champion then popped the next jump, a planned quad Salchow. But he was able to recover in the second half of the program to music by Ludwig van Beethoven and landed a triple Axel-triple toe and three more triples. He slipped from second to third at 242.21 points. „I am so sad after my free skate because before this competition I was working a lot on my practice. I remember doing a lot of clean programs in my practices. I don’t know what is wrong but I remember that I felt so nervous before the free skate, before the short I felt better. I know exactly one thing: I have to work a lot and do more in practices and I have to skate more full programs for my confidence”, Kovtun told the press.

Florent Amodio delivered one of the most memorable moments of the competition and probably the Championship. The Frenchman had announced that he will retire from competition after Europeans and he just wanted to finish his career on a high note. That’s what he did, turning in an almost perfect performance to his Brasilian themed program “Memories of Sobral” that featured a quadruple Salchow and two triple Axels (240.96 points). At the end of his program, Amodio knelt down on the ice while the crowd was on their feet and cheered loudly. Coach Nikolai Morozov broke down in tears. „I can’t believe it. That was the best program of my life and it was last one I will ever do. It is a dream. It is a dream to skate like that and to skate like that at this moment? It’s unbelievable. The noise was crazy. It was so hard because I was listening to the crowd but trying to make myself focus. After every jump I was thinking ‘I did it! I did it!’ but I had to keep my focus. I have had lots of medals and lots of bad moments, so to finish like this… I can’t believe it. This is how I want to be remembered“, the popular Frenchman summed up.

20-year-old Mikhail Kolyada pulled up from ninth to fifth in his debut at the European Championships with a strong performance (236.58 points). Ivan Righini came sixth, his best result so far, with 236.36 points. Michal Brezina of the Czech Republic dropped from third to tenth after an error-ridden program.

Medvedeva leads Russian Ladies podium sweep

Evgenia Medvedeva of Russia led the sixth Russian sweep of the European Ladies podium. Elena Radionova picked up the silver medal like last year and Anna Pogorilaya repeated as bronze medalist Friday night at the ISU European Figure Skating Championships in Bratislava, Slovak Republic. 15 years ago at the ISU European Championships 2001 here in Bratislava, the Russian Ladies had swept the podium as well with Irina Slutskaya, Maria Butyrskaya and Viktoria Volchkova. At this time, this generation of athletes hadn’t even started skating yet.

Grand Prix Final Champion led following the short program and was the favourite in her very first European Championships. Her performance to “W.E.” by Abel Korzeniowski and “Allegro” by Rene Aubry was highlighted by a triple flip-triple toe, triple Lutz, triple Salchow-triple toeloop as well as two more triples and a double Axel-double toe-double toe combination as well as excellent spins and footwork. However, she crashed on a double Axel. Still, she won the free skate with 142.90 points as she picked up lots of positive GOEs and also high component scores including one perfect 10.00 for interpretation. The reigning World Junior Champion racked up 215.45 points to win the title. Medvedeva, usually very composed, cried when her scores came up. “I can’t believe it, this is just impossible. Today in the Kiss and Cry was the first time I cried from happiness. The tears in the Kiss & Cry were tears of joy. I thought I would be in second after my fall so to be in first was unexpected”, the 16-year-old shared. “When I went into the Axel I thought ‘do it, do it’ and when I fell I was like ‘oh no’”, the teen added. Medvedeva is now again a favorite for World gold in Boston. When asked about the possibility to win Worlds at the first attempt she answered: “My personal goal is to continue to work, to put all my soul into my skate and trust that my coach knows exactly what to do and what to work on.”

Radionova, who was second after a good short, had skated first in the warm up group and threw down the gauntlet with a powerful performance to “Titanic”. The World bronze medalist hit a triple Lutz-triple toe, triple loop-single loop-triple Salchow combination as well as three other triple jumps and two double Axels. Only her first Axel was wobbly. The 17-year-old scored 139.03 points and had 209.99 overall. “I think I skated the free pretty well, with a couple of small mistakes on some of the jumps. I know I can do better but I skated more or less as I planned. But I know I need to work more and now I know what I should work on and correct”, Radionova noted. She revealed a new, elegant black and white costume. “I love it! We decided to change it straight after Russian Nationals and I came up with the design myself. It is supposed to be an evening dress style. Every dress feels a little bit different and so I need to get used to it, but I will have a lot more opportunities to do that this season”, the two-time World Junior Champion explained.

Pogorilaya and started strongly with a triple Lutz-triple toe, triple loop-single loop-triple Salchow combination into her routine to “Sheherazade”, but she crashed badly on a triple Lutz and triple loop. The 17-year-old picked up level fours for her spin and footwork. She was ranked third in the free with

123.24 points and remained in third place overall with 187.05 points. “I wasn’t particularly nervous, inside I was completely calm, I think it was just my body that was not so relaxed, so some of the jumps were hard. Of course I wanted to do the jumps better than I managed today but I think I showed all the emotions I could and told the story well”, she said. “I have very mixed emotions because it wasn’t a very good skate but it was good experience for me so now I need to move forward”, the Muscovite added.

Latvia’s Angelina Kuchvalska finished fourth, which is the best result for a Latvian figure skater since Konstantin Kostin placed fourth at the European Championships in 1993. She landed five clean triples and earned 176.99 points. Roberta Rodeghiero of Italy came fifth with a solid performance and 170.76 points. France’s Mae Berenice Meite pulled up two spots after the short to finish sixth at 161.23 points.

Papadakis/Cizeron defend European title

After Gabriella Papadakis/Guilaume Cizeron missed the first half of the season as she recovered from a concussion, not many people would have predicted that the French team could defend their title at the ISU European Figure Skating Championships in Bratislava, Slovakia. Yet the reigning World Champion returned in style, turned in two strong performances and took the gold Saturday at the Ondrej Nepela Arena. Italy’s Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte earned the silver and Ekaterina Bobrova/Dmitri Soloviev of Russia secured the bronze.

Papadakis/Cizeron, who stood in second following the short dance, delivered a mesmerizing dance to

Rain In Your Black Eyes”. They seemed to flow over the ice, showing off effortless edges and creating a perfect unison between them and the music. Their difficult elements were smoothly incorporated into the routine. The twizzles, the spin, the footwork as well as two lifts garnered a level four. The straight line lift merited a level three. Papadakis/Cizeron scored 111.97 points and totaled 182.71 points. ”I think it feels even more amazing than last year, because we proved that we can do it again. We managed to have a really great moment during the performance and the audience shared this program with us”, Cizeron said. “We are very proud that we did a great, great job in this free dance and that we did even better than we have ever done in practice. It was a really magical moment and we are just very proud of everything”, Papadakis added.

Cappellini/Lanotte went into a complete different direction with their dance named “La Dolce Vita” (which is in fact set to other Fellini soundtracks). Their dance was excellent as well, lively, upbeat and got the crowd going right away. The multiple Italian Champions collected a level four for four elements and a level three for three elements to earn 105.70 points. Overall the 2014 European and World Champions scored 178.01 points and slipped from first to second. “We certainly left a few technical points on the table today. We haven’t been able to see the breakdown yet but definitely the technical part lacked a little bit today so that’s something we are going to work on in the future. It’s something that comes up at every competition. There are so many details that it is hard to keep everything super neat. I think we posted our highest score in the free dance earlier in the season, so there’s definitely room for improvement in that area. Today wasn’t our biggest performance, it didn’t flow as much. We skated first and so we were feeling the ice a little bit at the beginning of the performance. We need to improve our ability to go out and skate on the ice with 100% and leave nothing behind. We want to finish the program like we can’t get up anymore”, Cappellini explained.

Bobrova/Soloviev presented yet another style, telling the dramatic story of “Anna Karenina” in their free dance. The Russian Champions got a level four for all elements but for the circular footwork that was a level three. 107.79 points was a new personal best free dance score for the 2013 European Champions. They were second in the free dance but remained in third place at 176.50 points. The dancers were more than happy with that as they sat out the past season due to his knee injury. It’s our first bronze. We’ve had gold and silver but never bronze. Hopefully all our future medals will be gold!”, Soloviev said. “We’re really happy to be here. It hasn’t been easy. Before the free dance we were really worried and really nervous but we were able to pull ourselves together. We looked each other in the eye and knew that we would support each other no matter what and that everything would work out”, he continued.

Sinitsina/ Katsalapov shone especially in their Swan Lake short dance, their “Io Ci Saro” free dance is somewhat sappy, although they performed it very well and scored 172.65 points. Sinitsina/Katsalapov debuted at Europeans as a team. Stepanova/Bukin turned in a dynamic program to “Rachmaninov’s Revenge” and had 165.55 points. 2014 European bronze medalists Penny Coomes/ Nicholas Buckland of Great Britain especially impressed with their “Hurricanes and Butterflies” free dance and placed sixth (162.75 points).

(originally written for and published at Golden Skate by our writer)