Standout performances at Europeans | Figure Skating | CBC Sports

Figure SkatingStandout performances at Europeans

Posted: Monday, January 28, 2013 | 03:29 PM

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Javier Fernandez became the first Spaniard to capture a European figure skating title when he won the men's event. (Attila Kisbenedek/AFP/Getty Images) Javier Fernandez became the first Spaniard to capture a European figure skating title when he won the men's event. (Attila Kisbenedek/AFP/Getty Images)

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There were definitely some standout performances at the 2013 European Figure Skating Championships held over the weekend in Croatia.
There were definitely some standout performances at the 2013 European Figure Skating Championships held over the weekend in Croatia.

Javier Fernandez was outstanding in his free skate on his way to collecting the very first European title for a Spaniard. When you consider that 0.04 points separated Fernandez from bronze medallist Patrick Chan at the recent Grand Prix Final, and that Fernandez beat Chan at Skate Canada, this moves him into serious contention for the world title.



Florent Amodio of France won this title in 2011 and could have repeated here as he was the leader after the short program. At the end, Amodio's free program was overshadowed by Fernandez and Michal Brezina of the Czech Republic. Amodio took the silver and Brezina won bronze.

Former world champions Brian Joubert and Evgeni Plushenko both skated the short program but didn't push through in the free. Joubert was not able to generate the kind of free program that would have signalled a return to the European podium, finishing in fourth place. As much as they would like to be back on top, life keeps getting in the way for these two skaters. For Plushenko, a fall in the short program, where he placed sixth, re-aggravated a back injury that caused him to withdraw from competition before the free.

Russian women impress

Italy's Carolina Kostner earned her fifth European title with only 0.72 points to spare against some very stiff Russian competition. Technically, she may have been outskated by Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, who won the free, but to be honest, Kostner's free program to Ravel's Bolero for me is head and shoulders above everybody else's this season, for which we can thank Lori Nichol.



What about the Russians? Well, I have been thinking all along that there is a bumper crop of young Russian women on the international skating scene. The depth of talent in Russian women's skating is staggering, including Adelina Sotnikova, who dropped from first after the short program to second overall, and Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, who took the bronze. Those skaters were joined by teammate Nikol Gosviani, who finished sixth in her Europeans debut. Having three skaters in the top six at Europeans is an impressive feat to say the least.

Pairs' showdown

All I cared about in the pairs' event was seeing who would take the title between defending European champions Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov, and defending world champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy. The last time these two pairs met was at worlds in 2012, when Volosozhar and Trankov leapfrogged over the competition after an eighth-place finish in the short. With their amazing free skate, Volosozhar and Trankov finished second by a margin of only 0.11 behind Savchenko and Szolkowy.

The two teams were both poised and ready for this head-to-head matchup. The Russians had been looking forward to meeting their biggest rivals, and when it was all over, Volosozhar and Trankov won both the short and free to take the title. They finished with a decisive 7.21 lead ahead of Germans  Savchenko and Szolkowy, who settled for silver.



Italians Stefania Berton and Ondrej Hotarek took the bronze and the first pairs' medal for Italy at Europeans.

Wide-open dance

With two-time and reigning European champions Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat sidelined by injury, the dance event was wide open. I have been saying all season that Russians Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitry Soloviev are on to something.

They fought for their first title and held off teammates and silver medallists Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov by 0.11 points. I am not sure why the competition was this close as the two free dances are very different, with the nod going to Bobrova and Soloviev in my mind in terms of overall presentation and sophistication.

Italian ice dancers Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte continue to improve. Their bronze medal and first step onto the European podium bears witness to that fact.



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