The European Figure Skating Championships came to Minsk, Belarus for the first time in its history and the competition is one that will be remembered for a long time due to some record breaking feats.
The big talking point of the men’s event was whether Javier Fernandez could close out his stellar career with a seventh consecutive victory. The European Championships were to be his only full competition of the season and his first since taking bronze at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics. The Spaniard got off to an inauspicious start when he placed third in the short programme. A step out of a triple Axel and an under rotation call on a quadruple Salchow meant he had to play catch up. His free skating, while not error-free, was enough to lift him up from third to first and give him that coveted seventh European title in a row, the first male skater to do since Austria’s Karl Schäfer in 1935.
Alexander Samarin from Russia picked up his first European medal by coming second in both segments of the event to end up with silver. Italy’s Matteo Rizzo rocketed up from 10th after the short to win bronze, his country’s first medal in the men’s category for a decade.
The ladies title went to Russia for the sixth time in a row, but not to the skater who was expected to win. In her debut season as a senior, Sofia Samodurova had medalled at both of her Grand Prix assignments and qualified for the Grand Prix Final. Although she had only finished sixth at Russian Nationals, all of the medallists at the event were ineligible for European selection due to their age. In Minsk, Samodurova posted a new personal best of 72.88 for her short to put her in second place at the halfway point of the competition. She backed that up with another personal best of 140.96 in the free to give herself a career high total of 213.84 and the gold medal.
Despite an under rotation call on a triple loop in the short, Alina Zagitova had been in the lead in the free. However, an error-strewn free dropped the Olympic champion to second place. Viveca Lindfors jumped up from fourth after the short to claim bronze. It was Finland’s first European medal since 2012.
After missing the podium completely last year in Moscow, Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres kept their unbeaten streak this season alive and became the first pair from France to win Europeans since 1932. The 2018 World bronze medallists were nearly foot perfect in both portions of the competition and were rewarded with a new set of personal bests for their short (76.55), free (149.11) and total (225.66).
The triple toe loop jump caused problems for Russia’s Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov in both the short and the free and left them unable to achieve a third consecutive European title. Their compatriots Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii won bronze in their European debut.
The championships finished with another milestone when Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron became the first ice dance team to win five European titles in a row. The 2018 Olympic silver medallists were head and shoulders above the rest of the field and set new world record scores in the rhythm dance (84.79) and the free dance (133.19).
Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin had their highest finish at Europeans with the Russians taking the silver medal. Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri stood on the European podium for the first time when they received bronze.
Detailed results for the 2019 European Figure Skating Championships can be found here.