Might Of Russia Shows At Moscow Europeans

The host country dominated the 2018 ISU European Figure Skating Championships in Moscow, Russia winning nine out of the twelve medals on offer.

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Javier Fernández was supreme once more and skated his way to a sixth European title. He took a hefty 12 point lead over the rest of the field after the short programme and the competition was more or less decided at that stage. Despite a number of errors in the second half of his “Man from La Mancha” free skating routine, the two-time World champion was still head and shoulders ahead of his rivals and won with a total score of 295.55. The Spaniard is the first male skater since Karl Schäfer before World War Two to win six or more European golds.

“It means a lot,” Fernández said. “It is always nice to make history in figure skating for Spain and it is nice to skate well and win another title.”

Russia’s Dmitri Aliev may become a force to be reckoned with after he picked up the silver medal on his European debut. The current World Junior silver medallist posted a whole new set of personal bests on his way to the podium and did not put a foot wrong in either of his programmes.

After mistakes on the first two elements in his short, Mikhail Kolyada was languishing in fourth place ahead of the free. Even with falls on a quadruple Lutz and quadruple toe loop in the free, the Russian champion was able to move up to third overall to claim his second straight European bronze.

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The ladies event was a two-way battle between training partners. Alina Zagitova had not been beaten all season and was flawless in Moscow. The World Junior champion became only the second woman to break the eighty point barrier in the short with a new personal best of 80.27, the second highest score in history. She backed that up with another career high score of 157.97 in the free for an overall total of 238.24. In the end, the Russian won gold by over five points.

“To skate at home is on the one hand harder, because you don’t want to let down your home and your fans,” she said. “On the other hand it is easier, because you get so much support.”

Evgenia Medvedeva has been the dominant force in ladies skating for much of the past three years. In fact, the two-time World gold medallist had not suffered a loss since the 2015 Rostelecom Cup, which was also held at the Megasport Arena. However, the Russian had been sidelined with injury since November and had missed out on competing at the Grand Prix Final and her own national championships. A step out on a double Axel in the short meant that she was playing catch-up going into the free. Despite laying down an impressive skate, it was not enough to beat Zagitova and she had to be content with silver.

At the age of 30, Carolina Kostner was looking better than ever in the short where she posted a new personal best of 78.30. A number of errors marred her free, but the 2012 World champion hung on to receive the bronze, the 11th European medal of her career.

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The first medals awarded at this year’s Europeans were in the pairs competition. Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov had been on the European podium at the previous three championships and were the reigning champions going into the event. However, the event got off to a disastrous start for the Russian with mistakes on triple toe solo jumps and a triple loop throw that had them down in fifth place going into the free. The World bronze medallists dug deep in the free and pulled out a personal best score of 151.23 to rally and retain their European title.

“We didn’t like the short programme,” Morozov said. #It was the worst we have done. So today we were angry with ourselves and we used this anger to skate and complete everything well and with good speed and we got good marks for all our elements.”

Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov were lying down in third after the short due to a fall by Stolbova on a triple toe loop. In the free, Stolbova had another fall – this time on a triple Salchow. The 2014 Olympic silver medallists did move up to second to win their third European silver.

Natalia Zabiiako and Alexander Enbert edged out Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres, who had been leaders after the short, by 0.01 points to complete a Russian sweep of the podium.

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In the ice dance event, Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron decimated the opposition to win their fourth consecutive European title by over 16 points. The two-time World champions set two new world records in the process – 121.87 for their free dance and 203.16 for their total score. They received a perfect 10 in three of the five programme component score categories. They are also the first team since Natalia Bestemianova and Andrei Bukin in 1988 to win four European titles in a row.

“We are very happy with our performance, it went really well,” Papadakis said. “We competed in Moscow before in a Grand Prix event a few years ago, but we didn’t do so well. So we’re very happy to come back here and skate well.”

Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev made a slow start to the competition with a fourth place in the short dance. They rallied in the free dance to record a new personal best of 112.70 giving them another career high total of 187.13. The 2013 European champions moved to eighth overall on the all-time list in both segments.

It was quite a surprise when Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin positioned themselves in second place after the short dance with a personal best score of 75.38. They also recorded bests in the free dance (109.48) and overall (184.86) to take the bronze, their first European medal since 2015.

Full results of the ISU European Figure Skating Championships 2018 are available here.

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