Four titles were up for grabs as the European Championships came to the Czech Republic for the first time since 1999.
Javier Fernandez wrote himself into the history books once more as he claimed his fifth straight European crown in Ostrava. He became the first skater to do so since Ondrej Nepela achieved that feat in 1973. The Spaniard had laid down his first clean short programme of the season to announce his intentions. In the end, there was no catching him in the free skating either, despite a nasty fall on a quadruple Salchow midway through his Elvis Presley themed routine.
“It was definitely not the best free skate of the season,” Fernandez said. “It is hard to chase your season bests and records all the time even if we want it. ”
Maxim Kovtun was a distant second place, although the Russian skated well in both segments of the event and earned a set of new personal bests. His fellow countryman Mikhail Kolyada won his first ISU championship medal for his third place.
There was only ever going to be one winner of the ladies competition. Evgenia Medvedeva proved that she has nerves of steel as she was flawless in both the short and free. Even adding in an unnecessary and uncounted triple toe loop at the end of her free skate could not prevent her from topping Yuna Kim’s record score from the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. It was the World champion’s second consecutive European title.
“I did not beat the record in my short programme, so I definitely wanted to do it in the free programme,” Medvedeva said. “I was in a good mood today, everything felt fantastic – ice, audience, skating. I just realised how much I like this competition, and wanted to enjoy to the fullest.”
For the fourth year in a row, both gold and silver went to Russia. Anna Pogorilaya was able to upgrade her previous two European bronzes, despite minor errors that ranked her third in the free. Carolina Kostner prevented a Russian sweep and picked up her tenth European medal, 11 years after her first.
There were new European champions in the pairs event. Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov struck gold with two solid programmes that enabled them to win their first European title. It was the sixth successive victory for Russian pairs.
” Gold at the Europeans means a lot to us, we have worked a lot to win it,” Tarasova said. “We believe that our main victories and gold medals are still to come, this motivates us to grow.”
After an injury had kept them out of competition since November, Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot picked up silver again this year. They will take some encouragement from the fact that they won the free, even with two easier throws than they would normally include. There was delight for Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres who, after finishing fourth twice previously at Europeans, bagged bronze. It was the first European medal for a French pair since 2003.
Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron cemented their status as European leaders in ice dance with a third title in a row. The two-time World champions had found themselves in third after the short dance, but easily won the free dance two days later. They became the first team since Tatiana Navka and Roman Kostomarov in 2006 to win three consecutive European golds.
“We had nothing to lose,” Cizeron said. “You have to deal with each position you’re in in a different way. We are learning that in our career. It is not easy and we’re very happy to have been able to overcome the difficulties and to give a programme with so much emotion today.”
The event was not without its controversy. Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte had originally finished first in the short. However, following a review by the technical officials, the Italians were deemed to have performed an additional illegal element and were docked a point. It did not seem to faze the 2014 World and European champions, who still set personal bests for their short and total scores, and they won silver for the third year in a row.
Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev had been in pole position after the short, due to the penalty applied to Cappellini/Lanotte. In the end, they missed out on second place by 0.08 points and had to be content with a second straight bronze.