2014 European Championships – Preview
Release by ISU
The 2014 ISU European Figure Skating Championships will open in Budapest, Hungary, on January 15.
The ISU European Figure Skating Championships return to Budapest for the seventh time in history. The event was held in the Hungarian capital as early as in 1895 and 1909 and then again in 1955, 1963, 1984 and in 2004.
170 skaters from 33 ISU members have been entered for the Championships. Skaters/couples need to have obtained a minimum total technical score in Short Program and Free Skating in order to compete at the European Championships. Three reigning European Champions are back to defend their title and most of Europe’s top skaters have come to Budapest to face each other one more time before the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi (RUS).
In the Men’s event reigning European Champion Javier Fernandez (ESP), 22, has to face stiff competition. In Zagreb one year ago, Fernandez became the first Spanish figure skating medalist in history at an ISU Championship and followed up with a bronze medal at the ISU World Championships. He comes with a season’s best of 230.45 points to Hungary. The challenge should come from the Russian, Czech and French skaters.
Russian Champion Maxim Kovtun, 18, was the only European man to qualify for the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final and his season’s best of 240.34 is the highest of any man from Europe. He ranked fifth at the ISU European Championships in 2013.
Reigning European silver medalist Florent Amodio (FRA/season’s best 213.39 points) and bronze medalist Michal Brezina (CZE/season’s best 218.32), both 23, as well as veteran Konstantin Menshov (RUS/season’s best 223.03 points) and Sergei Voronov (RUS/221.18 points) are in the medal hunt. 2008 European Champion Tomas Verner (CZE) proved this fall that he is back in business, and three-time European Champion Brian Joubert (FRA) never should be counted out either.
In Ladies, Reigning European Champion and World silver medalist Carolina Kostner (ITA), 26, is aiming for her sixth European crown. The Italian scored a season’s best of 190.12 points. Kostner faces competition from 15-year-old ISU Grand Prix Final silver medalist Julia Lipnitskaia (RUS/season’s best 198.23 points), who debuts at the ISU European Championships.
Defending European silver medalist Adelina Sotnikova (RUS/season’s best 189.81 points), 17, is aiming at the top of the podium in Budapest as well. Other contenders include 2012 World silver medalist Alena Leonova (RUS), two-time European bronze medalist Elene Gedevanishvili (GEO), Valentina Marchei (ITA) and Viktoria Helgesson (SWE).
The Pairs event is highlighted by the ongoing duel between four-time World Champions Aliona Savchenko/ Robin Szolkowy (GER) and reigning World and European Champions Tatiana Volosozhar/ Maxim Trankov (RUS). Volosozhar/Trankov (season’s best 237.71 points) started strongly into the season, but the Germans (season’s best 227.03 points) handed them their first defeat in 20 months at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in December.
2012 European silver medalists Vera Bazarova/Yuri Larionov (RUS/season’s best 201.61 points) as well as reigning European bronze medalists Stefania Berton/Ondrej Hotarek (ITA/season’s best 193.92 points) and Russian Champions Ksenia Stolbova/Fedor Klimov (season’s best 188.10) and are challenging the top two teams. Other contenders to watch include Vanessa James/Morgan Cipres (FRA) and Maylin Wende/Daniel Wende (GER).
In the Ice Dance competition, several talented teams are looking to capture the European title. The top challengers are reigning European silver medalists Elena Ilinykh/Nikita Katsalapov (RUS/season’s best 171.89 points) and European bronze medalists Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte (ITA/season’s best 168.49 points).
Ekaterina Riazanova/Ilia Tkachenko (RUS/seasons best 152.36 points) and German Champions Nelli Zhiganshina/Alexander Gazsi (season’s best 147.27) are aiming at a podium finish here in Budapest as well.
Others challengers include 2012 World Junior Champions Victoria Sinitsina/Ruslan Zhiganshin (RUS), who debut at the event (he is Nelli Zhiganshina’s younger brother), Penny Coomes/Nicholas Buckland (GBR) and reigning World Junior silver medalists Gabriella Papadakis/Guilleaume Cizeron (FRA). Defending champions Ekaterina Bobrova/Dmitri Soloviev (RUS) and two-time European Champions Nathalie Pechalat/Fabian Bourzat (FRA) skip the event this year.