Europeans 2012 - day 5: The triumph of Nathalie and Fabian

January 28, 2012
By Titanilla Bőd
Photos © Absolute Skating

Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat defended their European title, while Carolina Kostner is on the way to her fourth European crown.

Batteries re-charged for Carolina

Experience helps. It is lot easier to compete if you have done it earlier and it is much easier to win if you have already tasted victory. Carolina Kostner has both the experience of competing and winning. At her tenth Europeans she is well on her way to grab her fourth title.

After the short program the Italian skater is in the lead, she earned 63.22 points. She landed a triple toe- triple toe combination, a triple loop and a double Axel. “I was a little nervous when I approached the rink and saw the people. But then I thought: this is the 10th time I’m doing this, just enjoy it because you don’t know if next year you’ll still be here. It helped me a lot to calm down, to just do what I do in practice, so I’m very pleased about how I did,” she commented on her performance.

Carolina has had a busy season; she competed at three Grand Prix events and then the final. After four competitions in eight weeks she needed to recharge her batteries so she decided to skip the Italian Nationals. “I sat down with my federation correspondent and the chief of my sports group, and we decided to not compete at Nationals. I had 8 weeks with 4 high level competitions and I started to lose my concentration in practice and it would maybe have been too much to compete again. It was a little bit sad for me because I would have liked to skate for the Italian fans since there are not a lot of competitions in Italy, but I had to recover. I went home to spend time with my family around Christmas, and I felt that my batteries were re-charged. After New Year’s I was able to start practicing again and concentrate on Europeans.”

Triple-triples everywhere

Kiira Korpi of Finland, on the other hand, had the opposite problem: lack of competitions. “I feel really good about my performance today. The season hasn’t been optimal for me because I struggled with some injuries earlier and didn’t get the normal experience from competitions. But I knew I was in good shape and the practices went well, so I just wanted to stay focused and enjoy the performance. I’m really happy about how it worked out,” Kiira said about her program, in which she landed a clean triple-triple combination.

The triple toe loop-triple toe loop combination wasn’t flawless for Ksenia Makarova, but the Russian skater is in third place. No wonder she was satisfied: “I’m content with my program. I came out to skate a clean and very confident program, and I did.”

Besides the top three, some more skaters attempted a triple-triple in their short program: Alena Leonova (whose second toe was downgraded), Yretha Silete, Elena Glebova, Julia Turkkila, Polina Korobeynikova (they all landed it perfectly) and Mae Berenice Maite (who had some problems with it).

Not Jenna’s day

The home crowd was all excited about Jenna McCorkell, however, it wasn’t Jenna’s day in Sheffield. She landed only a triple Lutz-single toe loop combination and she had troubles with the triple toe loop as well. “I made really, really silly and stupid mistakes,” she admitted. “I don't know what went wrong with the combination. I'm not very happy at all with my levels. For the free skate I'll need to do what I do every day; go out and do my best. The crowd did add pressure, but in a good way. They're fun and enthusiastic.”

To defend with an attack

“It’s easier to attack than to defend,” Nathalie Pechalat emphasized after being only second in the short dance. So the French team attacked in the free dance and that way defended their European title. “After the hard beginning with the short dance we just had to go on the ice and fight. We were the reigning European Champions and there is no way we would let go this. We trained to get more relaxed on the ice and we went out with anger and determination. Nathalie was less confident about the result than me. We struggled a bit on the first lift. Our legs were really tired. I think it was the stress. But she is very happy now,” Fabian said.

They portrayed a pharaoh and a mummy on the ice. “We had an exhibition program on this theme, then we both were mummies. Now we changed it and I was a mummy, while Fabian was a pharaoh. We found some good music pieces for it, but we couldn’t find anything suitable for the third part. We were ready to give up on this idea when we met Philippe Candeloro at a show, and he helped us,” Nathalie explained.

Easy for Katsalapov, hard for Bobrova

Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev got the silver medal. “We skated well overall technically and emotionally. Unfortunately, I made a stupid error in the twizzle series; I didn't grab my leg. It happens. Maybe I was too calm or too confident and didn't pay enough attention to the element,” Soloviev criticized himself. “For me personally it was our best performance of the season. It wasn't easy to skate. It put some pressure on us that we were in first place after the short dance, although it was nice. I think we proved in the short dance that we can compete with the winners,” Bobrova added.

The bronze medal also went to Russia, to Elena Ilynikh and Nikita Katsalapov, who were only 7th after the short dance. They skated to Ave Maria and in the end they grabbed the bronze by a very small, 0.03 point margin. “It was amazing. It was so easy to skate. Our goal was to skate with the feeling between us, so that it seemed as though no one else was on the ice, just us. After the short program we were a little bit sad. We like our short dance very much and in practice we did it very well and at Nationals too. But here it was our worst performance,” Katsalapov said, while his partner added: “In the short dance the judges were not good to us. But in our free dance we had that feeling between us. Nikita talked to me before we started and there was a real feeling.”


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