European Championships in Graz, Day 3
6 medals in one day!
The Russian fans of skating couldn’t be more pleased Friday in Graz: their team won three “small” medals (after the Ladies short program) and three big ones, thanks to the pairs!
Ladies Short: the Moscow monopoly
Alena Kostornaia, Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova didn’t disappoint their fans, as they took the first three spots of the Ladies Short Program in Graz. Kostornaia amassed 84,72 points, Shcherbakova garnered 77,95 points and Trusova, 74.95 points.
The set out of their programs was quite similar: all three started with an Axel (triple for Kostornaia, double for the other two), followed by a triple (Lutz for Kostornaia, flip for the others). They all placed the most valued element, the combination, in the second part of their program, where it brought more points (Lutz-loop for Shcherbakova and Lutz-toe for the other two).
Kostornaia appeared to be the fastest on the ice and skated with the biggest amplitude – maybe that’s why she looks so tall on television: in reality, she is the smallest of all three!
Trusova was slower, and skated with more power and less edges. “She started to grow,” her coach told us at the Grand Prix Final in Turin. “I recovered fully after Russian Nationals,” Trusova explained, “but I still can’t do the most difficult elements. We’re going step by step.”
The point difference between the three skaters came from Kostornaia’s triple Axel (8 points, compared to 3.3 for a double), but also from the Grades Of Execution (GOEs): Kostornaia amassed 13.35 points in GOEs, when Shcherbakova garnered 9 points and Trusova, 7.5 points.
“We’re good friends off the ice,” they all admitted. “But on the ice, everyone of us needs to do one’s job. Of course, each one of us strives at being the best, and wants to be the first to do new things. Well, Anna and Sasha are so, but I just try to skate clean,” Kostornaia added.
Swizerland’s Alexa Paganini skated a lightening routine, but ended 6 points below Trusova because of GOEs and components… She stands in fourth place before the free, with 68.82 points in her tally.
Pairs Free: another Russian sweep
The three pairs who had medaled in the short program ended on the podium Saturday night at the European Championships in Graz, in front of a capacity crowd.
Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii won their first continental crown with 25.94 points to spare. Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov moved up one spot to take the silver, while Daria Pavliuchenko and Denys Khodykin, who arguably skated the most interesting program of the evening, won the bronze.
Boikova and Kozlovskii had already a comfortable margin of error, as they won the short program 8 points ahead of their direct competitors. They had drawn to skate last and their tension and concentration were quite palpable as they entered the ice. They remained tense for a good part of their program, risking a fall several times. They nonetheless delivered a clean program, including side-by-side triple Salchow and triple toe – double toe – double toe combination, a solid throw triple flip and a huge throw triple loop. They amassed 152.24 points for their free, surpassing their Personal Best by 2.90 points.
“This is a big result! We’re so happy and so excited, as this is our first international major title,” Kozlovskii offered. “But this was one of the hardest free skating we’ve done recently. Usually you focus on the difficult elements and the others you do on autopilot, but this time we really needed to concentrate on each element and take them one at a time.”
Tarasova and Morozov skated with their usual power. Tarasova again fell on their side-by-side triple Salchow, and they struggled with their side-by-side triple toe combination as well. Their throws were incredibly powerful, however, as were their lifts. They garnered 135.14 points for their free program and 208.64 points overall. “We don’t have the best feelings after our skate,” Tarasova admitted, “but they are certainly better than last year. Of course, we have our elements to deal with, but it’s also very important for us to perform our program. We’ve worked a lot on that. As for our elements, they will work out. I know that we are on the right track.”
Pavliuchenko and Khodykin certainly had specific elements to land, but they also had a story to tell through the theatrical lay out they were unfolding, as their music, “Tron Legacy”, went crescendo and underlined its dramatic atmosphere. Each of their elements had a different color, the entrance and exit of their lifts were innovative, their jumps were impeccable … Although she fell after landing their throw triple flip. They amassed 131.60 points for their free program, beating their Personal Best in the process. That however was not enough to overcome Tarasova and Morozov’s superior components.
Retro Green Room
Italy’s Daniel Grassl stayed quite a long time in the Green Room Thursday night, those voluptuous sofas where the best of the time is waiting for his competitors’ marks. The two Italian team leaders joined him on the sofa: Federica Faiella, who danced with Massimo Scali, and Anna Cappellini, who was the 2014 European and World champion with Luca Lanotte. They brought a flair of “déjà vu” to the scene, and brought wonderful memories back. Meanwhile Grassl kept jumping all around the room from one acquaintance to the next after the exhilarating performance he had just delivered on the ice.
A champion’s distress
Michal Brezina could have dreamt of a different final. “I just missed one minute. One minute more would have been enough,” he kept repeating, his head in his hands, as he left the ice. Just one minute: what is one minute in one’s life, and even in those 13 years when he has brought his strength, his clear smile, his wisdom to the European Championship? Another skating great came at that moment and took him in his arms, like a big brother would come to support his younger one: Tomas Verner has also known that deep sadness of a career that could have reached far higher tops. Seeing now how Verner succeeds in his endeavors, one can rest assured about the fate of skating champions, who give the world one of its beauties.
Europe discovered France’s Gabriella Papadakis’s new costume for the team’s “Fame” Rhythm Dance. Gone is the small red triangle around her pelvis. “We like to change our costumes after the end of the first half of the season,” Papadakis explained. “Our former ones looked more like practice costumes, now in this version they look more like show-time ones.” The French team’s programs have reached fame for carrying universal stories. So now their costumes are also carrying a part of their stories. A new skating fashion?