2016 European Championships, Day Three: Medvedeva crowned champion

January 30, 2016
By Titanilla Bőd (Új Szó)
Photos © Joy & Mireille Geurts

Evgenia Medvedeva grabbed the gold in the ladies’ discipline at the European Championships in Bratislava. As expected the Russian ladies swept the podium. In pairs Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov are in the lead after the short program, more than four points ahead of the new German couple, Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot.

Aliona’s back in business

It was a moment many people had waited for; Aliona Savchenko skating at a Europeans again. After her former partner, Robin Szolkowy, retired, she decided to skate with Bruno Massot from France. But the French federation did not want to release him, and Aliona and Bruno had to sit out two years. At their long awaited European debut, they skated in the second group, but showed that they are medal contenders. Although they had a little wobble on the solo triple toe, they delivered a solid skate and earned 75.54 points, so after the short program they are in second place.

“It was a great joy for me to see all these people again that I have missed in the past two years. It was an incredible feeling, I’m so happy to be back competing at big events. We’re happy to skate together and we want to show it to everyone,” Aliona said. There were news about back pain bothering her, but she was ready to skate. “The physiotherapist and doctor are on me 24 hours to make it possible for me to give my best performance,” she added.

Death spiral burying dreams

Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres aimed high, but their hopes were buried by a missed death spiral. The French pair lost a couple of points on this element, and are currently fifth with 62.10 points. “I just don’t know what happened, it’s never happened before! It’s so ridiculous, I feel like we’re fighting so much for nothing,” Vanessa said bitterly.

Valentina Marchei and Ondřej Hotárek also had a big mistake in their short program; she took a fall on the throw flip. It looked alarming, but she kept skating. “The fall was so unexpected, and my hands were completely wet afterwards, and that upset the spiral. I think we came onto the ice today with far too much energy, and perhaps that affected our performance,” Valentina commented on their short program, which was worth 58.45 points and means seventh place for them.

Ireland vs. India

Two Russian pairs brought music from two different countries to Bratislava: Ireland and India. The routine of Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov to well-known Irish rhythms immediately caught the attention of the crowd, and they executed all their elements well. Their score, 70.17 points, means they are currently in third position. “We found out we were coming here only two weeks ago. There was one small mistake (a hand down on the throw triple loop), but overall I think we skated well and we displayed all our emotions inside. In fact, I would say we showed 400 percent emotion,” Vladimir said.

It was emotional also for Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov. They did not compete last season and were eager to fight for the European gold again. They did not get any negative GOE from any judge, and with 79.77 points they are in the lead. They had chosen a Bollywood theme for they short program, which made them unique, although some spectators were not fond of the music.

As Maxim revealed, they had to struggle with many problems before and during Europeans: “In every competition there is new drama. Maybe it is because of our ages that we have to deal with various injuries. We’re happy to finish the short program like this since Tanja has the flu, and I have some back problems. Our performance was not the best, but good enough for gold in the short program.”

Russian queens ruling Europe

The Russian ladies are currently unbeatable in Europe. Between 2007 and 2011 there was no Russian lady on the podium at Europeans, but since then there has always been at least two, and in Stockholm (last year) and here in Bratislava they swept the podium.

In the Slovak capital, Evgenia Medvedeva won. In her free skate she landed seven triples. Although she stumbled on the double Axel, her gold medal was not in danger. But she didn’t know that, since she was unaware of Elena Radionova’s score. “When I fell on the Axel I was very sad. But when I saw my score in the Kiss and Cry, I cried for joy. It was the first time I have cried there, but I was overwhelmed with emotions,” the newly crowned European champion said.

Her teammates, Elena Radionova and Anna Pogorilaya, finished second and third. Elena skated to Titanic and she landed seven triples as well, but there were some minor errors. “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 planned. But I know I need to work harder, and now I know what I should work on and correct,” she commented on her performance.

Anna fell twice in her long program to Sheherezade, on the triple Lutz and the triple loop, but she was still third in the free skate, and also overall. “I wasn’t particularly nervous, inside I was completely calm. I think it was just my body that would not relax, so some of the jumps were hard. Of course I wanted to do the jumps better than I managed to, but I think I showed all the emotions I could and told the story well. I was very pleased I was able to fight on and overcome the mistakes I made,” the bronze medalist said.

Angelina, the crowd’s favourite

“She is not on the podium? Why? She was amazing!” That’s what was heard all over the Nepela Arena after Latvian Angelina Kuchvalska’s free skate. Her passionate Tango had power and sparkle, and, seven triples. However, two of them were downgraded and her component score did not match the Russians’. Still, this is the best result for a Latvian figure skater since Konstantin Kostin placed fourth at the 1993 Europeans. “My coach had the idea for the program. At first I’m a sensual woman who wants to seduce the audience, but then I become soft as if I have lost something. Today I gave 100 percent and did everything I planned,” she commented on her performance.

Roberta Rodeghiero from Italy placed fifth. She performed to Evita, and showed strong character on the ice. She fought to the end and she earned her season best score. “I tried to do my best here and I’m very happy, especially about the short program in this competition. My goal was to execute clean elements. It was my seasons best and I’m proud of that,” Roberta said.

A sad day for Nicole

It was a hard day for Nicole Rajičová. She wanted to show her best in front of the home crowd, but she skated the worst program of the season… She was already a bit nervous during the warm-up and missed the jumps, and then another skater almost crashed into her. “Yes, maybe this distracted me. But I felt great during morning practice; I knew I was in shape. I don’t know what happened. Maybe I was overly motivated and wanted too much,” she said with a sad smile.

The audience was amazing and clapped along, but Nicole only earned 88.86 points in her free skate to the soundtrack from Doctor Zhivago, while her season’s best is more than 116 points. In the free skating she ranked 18th and in the overall ranking she dropped from ninth to 12th place. “It happened, life goes on. I will now have to get ready for Worlds,” Nicole said.

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