Saturday, January 23, 2010

European Championships Wrap-up

The European Championships have concluded in Tallinn and there was plenty of interesting plot twists and turns to keep skating fans entertained.

The Pairs Free saw the defending Champions sub-planted. Savchenko and Szolkowy had botched side-by-side salchows as well as a missed throw triple flip. They did settle into their performance but the damage was done and they would have to settle for silver. Mukhortova and Trankov continue their solid season winning the bronze in Tallinn. The Gold, however, went to their teammates Kavaguti and Smirnov who had a tremendous performance to take the win. What is it about Tamara Moskvina teams...The closer they get to the Olympics the better they get! Also, Kavaguti and Smirnov were knocking on the door of Shen and Zhao's record total from the Grand Prix Final, just 1.10 points back. Volosozhar and Morozov were fourth and Bazarova and Larionov fifth.

The men's event saw the first showdown between Plushenko, Joubert, and Lambiel since the 2006 Winter Olympics. Joubert was the first of the three to skate in the free skate and had several mistakes and clearly lacked the same attack and intensity he had earlier in the season. You're forced to wonder if his foot injury played a factor in his conditioning for this event. Joubert, ultimately, would relinquish his title and take the bronze. Plushenko was the second of the big three to skate. He had a solid performance...hitting his quad toe-triple toe combo. He missed a triple flip late in the program but it hardly mattered. He ended his program to a rousing ovation and 10 years removed from his first European Title he took his 6th. The judges, did however, bring him back to earth. After another seemingly 'high' short program score score, he was marked far more conservatively and seemingly in-line in the free. Oddly, the post competition buzz was not about Plushenko, but rather Stephane Lambiel who debuted his new La Traviata free skate here and added his name to the list of serious Olympic contenders. Lambiel was not without jump mistakes but his program is charming and he delivered it with great ease. Still no triple axel, but he did accomplish two quads and several other triples. He also beat Plushenko in program components on his way to the silver medal. Michal Brezina was fourth and Samuel Contesti was fifth.

The Ice Dance competition got overshadowed by complaints that Domnina and Shabalin's Aboriginal Original Dance is offensive (add your opinion in my quick poll). It's become such a big story it was the lead headline at Yahoo! Yesterday! The 2008 European Champions lost that OD as well as the Free Dance but managed to hang on to win another European Title. But the question heading forward for them is what to do with this Original Dance...if they use this at the Olympics it could be a PR disaster for Team Russia but there is scarce time to scrap it for another one. The bit of positive news coming out of the dance event was Faiella and Scali who won both the OD and the Free Dance to take the silver medal with some gorgeous performances. They definitely had the crowd behind them. We may have figured out why Khoklova and Novitski skipped the Grand Prix Final, they showed up here in Tallinn with a new Free Dance set to The Firebird (popular piece this season). While far from perfect, they were good enough to hang on the bronze. Pechalat and Bourzat (who I had pegged to win) were fourth after a sloppy ending to their Free Dance and Kerr and Kerr where fifth.

The ladies event continued to show that European women's skating is in a slump. It was a verifiable splatfest! Carolina Kostner won the event with a less than stellar performace. She sat down on her triple loop but managed to hang on to some other jumps. Even despite the flaws she was clearly the best in the field. In a post event interview she said "she lost track" halfway through her program. Nonetheless, a win here gives her the Olympic Berth for Italy. Italian National Champ Marchei who was looking to nab the berth was just 8th. The silver went to Laura Lepisto who, after a gorgeous triple toe-triple toe combo, proceeded to double or mess up the majority of her remaining jumps. Her solid component scores helped the defending champion along to the silver. Elene Gedevanishvili slipped in for the bronze medal after a conservative but pleasing free skate (actually second in the free). She and coach Robin Wagner seemed pleased with the effort and score in the Kiss and Cry. Kiira Korpi was fourth and Sarah Meier moved all the way up to fifth.

All results can be seen here. Take a look at a couple of my favorite performances from the event below.


jumping clapping man said...

YEAH ELENE!!!! finally, she's living up to some of her promise.

boy, alena is sure loosing ground these days. i wonder if the pressure from her motherland is just weighing too heavily.

and, AGREED...lambiel's FS (AND SP) are among the best of the season, and this Traviata program helps put him back in the running. it is well paced, and tells a real story.

if the russians take the gold from shen/zhao i'm done with skating.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Lambiel is definitely in the running for the Gold at the Olympics if he cleans up his program more. It's official. My fav this season is Lambiel, Takahashi, and Abbott. In no particular order of course. I'm crossing my fingers that these three makes the podium. The other ones: Plushy, Evan, Joubert.... not so much...

If the Russians take the gold from Shen and Zhao, China should impose sanctions against Russia!!!!!