Now that the ISU European Championships have wrapped up, what I can say is that, across all four disciplines, the attention seems much more focused in the skating world on North American and Asian skaters.
It's not that there aren't skating stars in Europe. There are. It is more a case of there not being a lot of depth in any one area.
The exception in Sheffield, England, was the men's event, where a modern-day gladiator re-emerged. Love him or hate him, Evgeni Plushenko is a force to be reckoned with.
Having to go through the extra step of securing the ISUs permission to compete at Europeans, clearly meant that Plushenko, Russia's most decorated male skater, was eager to compete. His credentials are amazing: nine-time national champion, three time world champion, Olympic champion and two-time Olympic silver medallist and now seven-time European champion. Even more impressive was the fact that he competed and won, despite aggravating an injury to his meniscus that now requires surgery.
Plushenko will have to miss the world championships.
There was a shuffle for position after the short program with Artur Gachinski, the reigning world bronze medallist from Russia, dropping from first to take the silver. It has to be said that, although he is 11 years younger than Plushenko, he has the same coach in Alexei Mishin and resembles the champion enough to be referred to in some circles as "Plushenko v2.0".
The truth is, if you had to emulate somebody, Plushenko isn't a bad choice.
Defending European champion Florent Amodio of France redeemed himself in the free program and moved from fifth to take the bronze medal. Amodio continues to battle performance inconsistencies.
The German team of Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy withdrew shortly before the event started, citing an injury to Savchenko's thigh muscle. As four-time European and three-time world champions, their presence at the Europeans would have made it a much more exciting event.
As it happened, their closest rivals, reigning world silver medallists Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov of Russia were able to walk away with their first European title. They were also able to lead a Russian sweep of the podium for the first time since 2005.
Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov took the silver and Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov the bronze in their debut at Europeans.
I was happy to see that Italy's Carolina Kostner took her fourth European title in Sheffield. Kostner's issue has been competition nerves in the past. But following up on her Grand Prix Final win in December with first-place performances in both the short and free at Europeans may signal that she has taken control.
Now, if she could transfer a little of that to the rest of the women, it would be helpful.
Finland's Kiira Korpi took the silver, even with a fourth-place finish in the free. Georgia's Elene Gedevanishvili moved up from fourth after the short to take the bronze.
I would like to mention Russia's Polina Korobeynikova, whose impressive second-place finish in the free moved her from 12th to fourth overall. The new judging system with best performance/most points trumping all is what makes this possible; under the old 6.0 system, this wouldn't have happened.
The two strongest teams in ice dance, in my estimation, ended up in first and second. France's Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat moved from second after the short dance to take their second consecutive European title.
My favourite Russian team of Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev was not able to capitalize on the lead it had after the short dance and settled for a second consecutive European silver medal.
The Russian team of Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov leapfrogged from seventh after the short dance to third in the free. The Russians snatched the bronze medal away by the slimmest of margins -- 0.03 -- from podium hopefuls Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte of Italy, who finished in fourth.
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