Croatian Rhapsody: Afterword
By Vladislav Luchianov
European Figure Skating Championships, which was held in Zagreb, Croatia last week, was interesting and eventful from different parts of sports life.
When the competition began, the view of a half-empty arena caused quite sad thoughts. But as the competitions moved to its peak, it got an absolutely another and much more appropriate atmosphere. The stands were practically filled and the air breathed a real joy.
Not only Nadal and Barcelona
Spanish fans of figure skating have repeatedly said with pride that their country has not only famous Rafael Nadal, Barcelona and Real Madrid. They also have Javier Fernandez! After his triumph in Zagreb they were heard even by football-oriented Spanish media giant El Pais, which published a large amount of material devoted to the first victory of the Spanish figure skater at the European championships.
Performances by Javier in Zagreb can be called stunning – beautifully executed programs, three quads in a free skating, and a full confidence in every step. Present Javier is a skater, who can and will fight for the highest places at any competition. This guy always had a talent but with the experience this talent has started to bring him gold medals.
It is important to note that his successes inspire other skaters of Iberian Peninsula. This primarily refers to the ladies single skater Sonia Lafuente, who performed very well and as a result finished seventh. The rest of Spanish team are also trying to progress.
Вперёд, Россия! – Go, Russia
This slogan sounded almost during all competitions. This is not surprising, as the Russian skaters pretended to medals in each of the disciplines. In pair skating, the main intrigue was the competition between Russian team of Tatiana Volosozhar/Maxim Trankov and German pair of Aliona Savchenko/Robin Szolkowy. Maxim Trankov, despite the family tragedy, did not withdraw from the competitions. The pair beautifully performed both programs and worthy won the title.
German pair has shown that even in the absence of competitive practice in the first half of this season, they are in excellent shape and still ready to fight for new titles showing programs of the highest level.
Performances of Evgeni Plushenko at the European Championships were waited by many people. In Zagreb came his fans from around the world. Unfortunately, another triumph failed. Plushenko, who overestimated his own physical condition and underestimated the old injuries, withdrew from the competition after the short program where he took unusual for him sixth place. Let’s hope that Evgeni will be more attentive to his health and wish him a speedy recovery.
Probably the main events for the Russian fans were performances of Adelina Sotnikova and Elizaveta Tuktamysheva in ladies singles competitions. The debut of these very young and very talented girls turned out strong. Adelina Sotnikova managed to beat the current World champion Carolina Kostner in the short program and Elizaveta Tuktamysheva won the free skating, showing just a phenomenal level of both technique and artistry. However, in this case the experience prevailed and the title went to the Italian skater, who impressed the audience by her Bolero program. Adelina and Elizaveta took silver and bronze respectively.
In ice dancing Russian fans expected the triumph from Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev. In the absence of Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat of France, they were the main favorites and surely confirmed this. Another Russian couple, Elena Ilinykh/Nikita Katsalapov, also showed that arrived in Zagreb with the highest goals. They lost to champions only several hundredths of points.
Ekaterina Riazanova and Ilia Tkachenko, despite the fourth place, have added much in different skills of their programs. This, no doubt, is the impact of their work with Igor Shpilband.
Nathalie et les Garçons
Nathalie Pechalat, who didn’t compete at Europeans due to her partner’s injury, showed herself from the other side. As a captain of the French team, she has constantly supported French athletes on and off the ice, and, in my opinion, it has played a big role in their inspirational performances.
Brian Joubert in the short and free programs skated with his trademark passion and desire. In this case was no matter that he again remained without medals. What is important is that the audience saw again the real Brian Joubert and it is much more valuable.
Florent Amodio has confirmed the status as the most stable European skater. Winning a silver medal, he added one more to his collection of European awards, which already has the gold of 2011 and the bronze of last year.
In ladies singles we met with the new talented Frenchwoman Lenaelle Gilleron-Gorry, who has earned many positive feedbacks from various skating experts finishing in 11th place and losing to more experienced compatriot Mae Berenice Meite.
The feast on Italian street finally took place. In addition to the fifth champion’s title of Carolina Kostner, ice dancers Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte and pair skaters Stefania Berton/Ondrej Hotarek brought a lot of happiness to themselves and their fans by winning the first Euro medals – the bronze. In recent years they are constantly increasing results and finally a huge amount of work was paid off. Italian skaters didn’t hide their triumph and that is right – a well deserved victory should be rejoiced completely, especially when the victory goes to the sports history of your country.
No less happily this championships turned out for the Czech skater Michal Brezina and British ice dancers Penny Coomes/Nicholas Buckland.
Michal was tired of getting fourth places and this time decided to fight to the very end. He overcame a kind of psychological barrier by winning a bronze medal and probably this new emotional side will help him to take new sporting heights.
British Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland once again demonstrated team’s progress, taking fifth place among the ice dancing couples. It’s worthy to note that Penny has spent a lot of time recovering from an injury but this fact is in no way affected the quality of performances. The couple always has a very genuine nature of programs. In Zagreb they competed at a very high level and confirmed the status of the first couple of Great Britain with big prospects.
Photos: Facebook page of Europe 2013 Zagreb, FB pages of skaters, Ksenia Nurtdinova
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