Next week, running almost parallel to U.S. Nationals will be the European Championships. The event will take place in Helsinki, Finland and will feature some amazing talent.
The pairs event will feature reigning European Champions Savchenko and Szolkowy, newly crowned Russian Champs Kawaguchi and Smirnov as well Mukhortova and Trankov also of Russia and Volosozhar and Morozov of Ukraine. These four teams all medaled in all the Grand Prix events they entered this season and look to dominate here as well.
The ladies event also features last season's champion, Carolina Kostner from Italy. The biggest story may be the very strong Finnish ladies team competing which includes Kiira Korpi, Laura Lepisto, and Susanna Poykio. If those three can skate well the will bring the "hometown" crowd down! I'm trying to figure out why Sarah Meier is not competing...
The Ice Dance event is interesting. The favorites, Delobel and Shoenfelder, have withdrawn due to injury, however, the event still looks to be close. It will be the first rematch between Domnina and Shabalin and Khoklova and Novitski both of Russia since Khoklova and Novitski upset Domnina and Shabalin at Cup of Russia. Then there is the Italian team of Faiella and Scali who lost a bit of steam at the Grand Prix Final when they were upset by American upstarts Davis and White. And then there is the British Team of Kerr and Kerr who keep knocking on the front door of all these top teams saying, 'Let us in!' And even beyond these four teams there is more talent including Cappellini and Lanotte of Italy and Pechalat and Bourzat of France (who nearly beat Faiella and Scali at NHK). Dance, I think will be the hardest fought competition in Helsinki.
The Men's event, which always seems to be the crowd favorite in Europe, I think is wide open this season. The French team looks very strong and could, if they all skate to their potential, easily sweep the podium. Joubert, Ponsero, and Preaubert have all posted good results this season. Joubert's season has been 'rocky' to this point, he'll look to get back on track. In their way will be several competitiors, including the reigning champ Tomas Verner from the Czech Republic. Kevin Van Der Perren, who had a rough start to his season at Cup of Russia is competing. Russian Champ Sergei Voronov is in the field, coming off a win at Russian Nationals. And Swedish upstart Adrian Schultheiss is competing as well.
Full list of competitors can be found here.
So...that in mind...I'm gonna give a shot a predictions.
GOLD - Savchenko and Szolkowy (GER)
SILVER - Kawaguchi and Smirnov (RUS)
BRONZE - Volosozhar and Morozov (UKR)
GOLD - Carolina Kostner (ITA)
SILVER - Laura Lepisto (FIN)
BRONZE - Kiira Korpi (FIN)
GOLD - Domnina and Shabalin (RUS)
SILVER - Kohklova and Novitski (RUS)
BRONZE - (gut check!)Faiella and Scali (ITA)
GOLD - Brian Joubert (FRA)
SILVER - Yannick Ponsero (FRA)
BRONZE - Alban Preaubert (FRA)
I would love to see the French guys sweep this thing...it would just be a fun story.