Europeans 2011 - Day 6: Moved Sarah, thrilled Florent

January 30, 2011
By Titanilla Bőd
Photos © Absolute Skating

Sometimes life is more beautiful than fairy tales. The PostFinance Arena in Bern witnessed something miraclous on Saturday: Sarah Meier won the ladies competition at her very last championships.

Men's free skating also had its interesting stories: Florent Amodio won the title just at his debut at the Europeans.

Sarah's fairytale

She was crying when she finished her program, she was crying in the kiss / cry and she was crying on the podium, while the impressed Swiss crowd was giving her a standing ovation. 26-year-old Sarah Meier skated flawlessly in ladies free program and she deservedly was crowned continental champion. “I feel like in a movie. It is an unbelievable feeling. I haven’t realized it yet. It’s still like in a dream. I skated last, and when I saw that I won, didn’t think it is true. I was dreaming of this moment, but I didn’t think this could happen,” she said immediately after her performance, and then at the press conference she described her feelings more to details: “The crowd helped me, but at the warm-up I felt really emotional, I almost started to cry. But then I said to myself, I can let the emotions out when I'm done, but until then I have to keep the energy inside. That's what my coach suggested too, not to get emotional but try to use the energy from the crowd.” She also said she wasn't too stressed despite skating last. “I was quite calm, I almost feared I was too calm, but then it turned out it was a good mix of calmness and still being able to attack. I don't know how I reached that, but it worked.”

Sarah was the only skater in the last warm-up group, who skated clean, while the others provided a “splatfest”. Even the silver medalist Carolina Kostner fell once on the triple loop, however, she still managed to deliver the best free skating of the afternoon, thanks to which she managed to jump from sixth place to second. “Yesterday before I went to bed I looked at the situation in a very realistic way and I knew it was going to be hard to medal. So I focused less on the medals but on skating my best. It helped a lot. I did wonderful practices before I came, really good practices here. So I knew I was ready. I know it was just a matter of being focused. I’m very pleased and surprised with the result and so happy for Sarah,” Carolina told the press.

Kiira Korpi was the leader after the short program, but one day later she couldn't repeat her perfect performance. She had wobbles on her landing of the triple lutz and the triple toeloop, and fell on the triple loop. When leaving the ice she looked very disappointed, but at the press conference she was in a better mood. “The program was quite a struggle. It didn’t start out well and I fell on the loop. But the crowd was very supportive. I fought until the end. I am happy with this medal even though I know I could have done better. I have come a long way since my last medal. Last year I was so close, and I have been working very hard. I am happy to get the medal. I am also very happy for Sarah, she deserves this kind of ending to her career. And I am happy for Carolina that she could come back like this after the short program. It was very emotional on the podium with all the Swiss fans in the stadium and all the Italian and Finnish people watching,” she commented on her feelings.

Alena Leonova of Russia fought back after her disappointing short program and finished three in the long, fifth overall. “I fulfilled the promise I gave to myself – to give a 100 percent, like I did at Russian Nationals in the free skating. I felt cold in the short program and I didn’t feel my legs, plus I was nervous. Today I rubbed my legs with warming oil and I wore two pairs of tights. I like both my programs and they are very different from each other. Just today I had to think about the criticism of Tatiana Tarasova again who had said earlier that I can’t deal with this free program, and I was determined to prove again that I can skate this program,” Alena said.

Belgian Ira Vannut could even top her performance from the short program, so at her first major competition she finished on the excellent 7th place. “My first goal was just to make it through qualifying and then I won! I didn’t expect that. Then I had a really good short program and was 10th, and I hadn’t expected that either. I just had hoped to make the top 24. I learned that I shouldn’t be nervous and I was looking up to the other skaters that I’ve seen only on TV before. I especially like Jenna McCorkell as I’ve been training with her before. She has a great performance style and I hope to get there one day. I also look up to Kiira Korpi,” said Ira, whose next competition is going to be the junior Worlds.

Florent's big jump

Probably the biggest jump Florent Amodio showed on Saturday evening wasn't landed on the ice, but in the arms of Brian Joubert. The new European champion hugged his compatriot, competitor and friend in the very first moment of intensive joy, just before starting running up and down, dancing and screaming: “Vive la France!”

Amodio was on the first place after the short program and although he performed only the third best free skating, his advantage was enough for him to secure the gold. “This is like a dream come true, winning the European Championships, being on the podium at the Grand Prix and making the Grand Prix Final. I want to thank the people around me, the French Federation and the people close to me. I would also like to say bravo to Brian and Tomáš. It is a real pleasure to be on the podium with them today,” Florent said overexcited at the press conference.

After sharing a room with Brian Joubert (Brian's remark: “there is only one problem with him, he speaks when he sleeps, but I can't understand what he was talking”) Amodio also shared the podium with him, although after the short program it was questionable if Joubert can make it to the top three. However, Brian once again showed what the “Joubert-spirit” is and pulled of the best free skating of the night. “I was very disappointed with the short program. I worked a lot before the event with my coach. I was ready to fight in both the short as well as the free program. The short was unbelievable for me. The mistake on the triple Lutz was big. In the free I didn’t care about the placement or the score, I just wanted to come out on the ice and fight,” he explained. This silver medal was his tenth consecutive medal at the European championships.

While after the short program it seemed the new generation will overtake the so-called veterans, in the free there was one more experienced competitor besides Joubert who proved his qualities: Tomáš Verner of Czech Republic got back to the European podium after a three years break and with this bronze from Bern he completed his medal collection. “I didn’t mean to complete the collection, I didn’t need the bronze anymore. I started with the silver, I continued with gold and we skipped a couple of years in between. Now I got the bronze. Of course I hoped to be better. But it’s sport. I enjoyed the event,” Tomáš said with a typical smile.

Smile was however missing on the face of Michal Březina, second after the short program, but only 8th after the free, because he fell twice on his triple flip and his planned quad salchow was only a double. “I don’t know what happened on the jumps. I am confident about my condition. I felt comfortable in the air and just went down after I landed. There was no problem with my condition. I was surprised I fell. I was also surprised I didn’t close the quad,” Michal commented on his performance, but also added he will try to bounce back at Worlds.

Kevin van der Perren of Belgium skated clean and finished fourth and revealed the fans can look forward to something unusual at the gala: “My goal was to skate into the top five. After the short program I was even thinking that a medal could be possible because I missed the third position about 0,15 points. This year I have a very special show-program for the exhibition: I developed a special glove for this real fire.

The week full of emotions is almost over, but don't miss the Sunday gala!



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