If you had told anybody five years ago that Spain would have a three times in a row European figure skating champion, most people would have asked you if you were feeling alright. Yet here we are in 2015 and Javier Fernandez has captured his third consecutive European title, a feat that skaters like Alexei Urmanov, Ilia Kulik, Alexei Yagudin, Evgeni Plushenko or Brian Joubert were not able to accomplish. In fact, the last time there was a threepeat in the men’s event the Soviet Union still existed as a country when Alexander Fadeev won in Birmingham in 1989. The similiarities between Fernandez and Fadeev’s streaks continue in that they began in a pre-Olympic season and neither skater was able to collect a medal at the Olympics themselves with both finishing up in 4th place. Fernandez still has the opportunity to change that.
As Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron finished their free dance to Mozart’s “Adagio from Concerto No. 23” at a sparsely attended Thursday night session of the 2015 European Figure Skating Championships at the Globe Arena in Stockholm, there were few people inside the venue who weren’t moved by the pure beauty they had just witnessed. European audiences tend to be tough and not as generous with their appreciation as North American or even Japanese crowds of late. The emotions that emanated from the French team on the night touched the hearts of those of us lucky to be there that night and it will remain long in our consciousness.
This time last year Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron ended the European Championships in fifteenth place. What a difference twelve months makes and their rapid ascent to the upper echelons of ice dance continues with no signs of slowing down. Even in the half empty Globe Arena in Stockholm, there was an intangible magic to the mood they created on the ice during their performance to Mozart’s Adagio from Concerto No. 23. It was perfect and total intimacy and you felt that they would have danced exactly the same way if no-one or twenty thousand people had been watching.
After a very tense and exhausting pre-Olympic Europeans last year, there is a notably more calm and rounded atmosphere permeating the air in Stockholm this year. Indeed round is the optimal word as the event takes place in the Globe Arena, the largest spherical building in the world.