Despite the surge in Covid-19 cases across the globe due to the Omicron variant causing an unprecedented number of withdrawals, competition at the European Figure Skating Championships kicks off in Tallinn tomorrow with the Estonian capital hosting the event for the second time.
When is it on?
Europeans begins Wednesday, 12 January with the men’s short programme and concludes Sunday, 16 January with the exhibition gala.
Who is skating?
While there are one or two noticeable absences, the cream of European figure skating talent have decided to brave the pandemic and make their way to Tallinn.
The men’s event looks set to be the most unpredictable and hardest to call. Daniel Grassl (ITA) is the highest scoring European man this season in Tallinn which he achieved on his way to a bronze medal at the Gran Premio d’Italia in Turin. Morisi Kvitelashvili (GEO) is the sole survivor of the 2020 European men’s podium to make it to Tallinn. The Russian trio of Evgeni Semenenko, Andrei Mozalev and Mark Kondratiuk could all feature. Deniss Vasiljevs (LAT) had a strong showing on the Grand Prix circuit this season. Kévin Aymoz (FRA) spectacularly crashed out after the short programme in Graz, Austria two years ago and will be seeking redemption this time round. Michal Brezina (CZE) is the only skater still competing in the men’s event who also took part in the 2010 Europeans in Tallinn, although Saulius Ambrulevičius (LTU) made the switch from singles to ice dance in the interim and is here representing Lithuania with Allison Reed who also participated in the championships 12 years ago as an ice dancer for Georgia.
There is not really a question of whether Russia will sweep the women’s event. It only remains to be seen in what order. Kamila Valieva (RUS) has been dominant this season and appears to be the heavy favourite for gold. However, World champion Anna Shcherbakova (RUS) and World bronze medallist Alexandra Trusova (RUS) cannot be counted out. The only other European skater to have approached the Russians this season is Loena Hendrickx (BEL) who won her first Grand Prix medal at Gran Premio d’Italia back in November.
The pairs event tells a similar story to the women’s one with the three Russian pairs head and shoulders above the rest of the field. Remarkably this will be the European Championship debut for Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov (RUS) who were crowned World champions in March 2021. Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii (RUS) are back to defend the European title they won in Graz two years ago. With two European titles under their belts from 2017 and 2018, Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov (RUS) will be aiming to add a third to their collection. The next highest scoring non-Russian pair this season in Tallinn are Laura Barquero and Marco Zandron (ESP).
Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron (FRA) chose not to make the trip to Estonia to preserve their health ahead of the Beijing Olympics next month which leaves the door wide open for Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov (RUS) to claim a second European title. Charlène Guignard and Marco Fabbri (ITA) could be due another European medal following the one they received in 2019. Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin (RUS) have stepped onto the European podium four times so far in their careers and could make it a fifth in Tallinn. After coming fifth in 2020, Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson (GBR) will be trying to push higher this year. The main subplot in the ice dance event will be who between Olivia Smart and Adrian Diaz (ESP) and Sara Hurtado and Kirill Khaliavin (ESP) will seal the one Spanish Olympic spot.
Everything you need to know (and some things you did not) about the skaters, the competition schedule and results can be viewed here.
When is the skating on?
The evening/middle of the night if you are in Asia, at a suitable hour in Europe and very early in North America. The times listed for the European Championships are local and if you want to know what the time difference is between where you are and Tallinn then this link is your friend.
Where can I watch the pretty skaters?
The wonderful and very helpful people at the ISU have compiled a handy guide as to where you can view this season’s European Championships in a whole host of countries and territories. For everyone else, there is the ISU Skating YouTube channel.
What are the hashtags?
#EuroFigure #UpAgain #FigureSkating