Let's start with the ladies. Last year's gold and silver medalists repeated as this year's gold and silver medalists! Carolina Kostner was able to defend her title with a performance that showed great speed. However, she still struggled on a few of her jumps and if she hopes to make the world podium she'll have to make improvements there. Sarah Meier took the silver with a solid performance but I feel her music doesn't lend itself to skating well. It just kind of drags on. Laura Lepisto who shocked everyone earlier this season by winning the short program at Skate Canada (beating Hughes, Asada, Rochette, and Nakano in the process) took the bronze with a shaky performance but good enough to fend off Finnish countrywoman Kiira Korpi. The overall impression I'm getting however is that this is definitely a transition time for ladies skating in Europe. Last season, Carolina Kostner was the only European women to make the top six at worlds (and it was 6th place) and the prospects for Europe doing better this season look slim.
In pairs it was a runaway for Savchenko and Szolkowy, I don't think they really had any competition, and they weren't even clean. Robin is continuing to struggle on the side-by-side triple salchows, for the third time this season he singled his. But the throws were amazing, the spins in good unison, inventive lifts, really the whole package is there. The same cannot be said for the Russian teams that finished second and third. Mukhortova and Trankov won the silver but struggled throughout their program with the throws and they lacked speed at the end of their performance. Their compatriots, Kawaguchi and Smirnov too looked rusty. After hitting a beautiful throw quad salchow at the top of the program, Alexander struggled on the side-by-side jumps and speed seemed an issue late in the program, however, I will say this is a trademark of Tamara Moskvina pairs. Remember Kazakova and Dimitriev and Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze when they made their debuts, terrible; but she molds them and by 2010 they'll probably be challenging for Olympic Gold!
Tomas Verner probably pulled off the biggest upset of the year by winning the European title, defeating Stephane Lambiel and Brian Joubert in the process. Tomas put a hand down on his opening quad but then proceeded to tick off triple after triple. His only other mistake came when he singled a planned double axel. While his component score was a bit lower than Lambiel's, he was simply able to land more triples. Lambiel, opened with a beautiful three jump combo that began with a quad but had some doubled jumps and got marked on under rotation on a triple triple that was late in the program. Also, at the Grand Prix Final Stephane had his triple axel back in the programs but for Europeans he removed them again...a jump he will certainly need in Sweden. Brian Joubert just looked tired and unprepared for the competition. Several of his jumps were under rotated and he was luck to not fall but finally took a plunge on a triple lutz. His spins were slow, he lacked speed and energy, and he let almost all of his artistic score go by focusing solely on the jumps (which were mostly unsuccessful). Joubert needs to get it together because he was nearly beaten out by Russian upstart Sergei Voronov. Not his day in Zagreb.
In Ice Dance this continues to be a close season. These teams are really going full out this season and it is making for an exciting time. The Russians and the French are really battling this season. Delobel and Schoenfelder won both the Compulsory and Original Dances beating Domnina and Shabalin. But Oksana and Max did what they have done all season and came back with a record breaking Free Dance score to take the gold over the french team. The Russians are just banking in the points on their technical content and it is hard for any team to beat them unless they have at least a 5 point lead over them coming into the free skate and these teams are so close on ability and talent that just ain't happening! Also, the other Russian team of Khoklova and Novitski made a bit of a move this season by winning the bronze, beating both the Italian team of Faiella and Scali and the upcoming french team of Pechalat and Bourzat. Looking ahead at worlds the teams to definitely watch are Domnina and Shabalin, Belbin and Agosto, Delobel and Schoenfelder, Virtue and Moir, and I'm gonna toss in Khoklova and Novitski as well as Davis and White (given their extremely strong Free Dance at Nationals).
Full results here.