European Championships 2015: Highlights and Recap

kavaguti smirnov euros 2015 spThe World Championships are looming ahead and I finally have time to sit down and catch up. First up: Euros. Let’s get right down to business, shall we?

Men

To start things off with a highlight, I’ll admit that Michal Brezina pulled a pretty decent skate despite the mistake in the middle of his program. However, I have to admit that my standards in this case are low since many of the skaters, including the medalists were pretty disappointing at Euros.

Javier Fernandez gave two skates with zero commitment and looked visibly tired in the second half of his long program. His win solidifies him as a threat for gold at Worlds this year but he did have some serious bobbles throughout both programs. In that sense, I’d attribute his wins here party to the weakness of the field at the moment. Besides, we know you can do better, Javi.

Maxim Kovtun skated two meandering programs that seemed to have no point or coherence within the choreography. Kovtun’s skating scares me at times as he tends to flail and is not tight in the air. A lot of the time, it looks as if the blades are controlling him and not the other way around.

As for Sergei Voronov, I charge him with skating to a program that is a waste of Camille Saint-Saens’ music and another program with haphazard and incoherent music cuts. Please tell me that the men’s competition at 4CC will be better.

Ladies

Highlight: Joshi Helgesson’s SP to a lovely cover of Blackbird. Helgesson’s skating is an example I would give for a program where the TES is likely to be low but certain aspects of the PCS (Performance and Execution, Interpretation) should be marked highly. Overall, I thought that her program had a junior-ish charm but what I liked most was her commitment to the performance. Her skating isn’t as refined as a lot of the skaters and she lacks polish but Joshi was a lot of fun to watch.

As for the results themselves, I think that the judges put the Russian ladies in the right order. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva demonstrated why I was so taken with her an Olympic cycle ago. Her choreography still contains too many poses and pauses for my taste but her skating has definitely improved. I adore watching her tano jumps finished with a long running back edge. Tuktamysheva’s newfound consistency, speed, power and polish is what separates her from the youngins that are creeping in and I think she’s put herself in a good position to win Worlds this year.

My little Elena won the silver and as much as I am dazzled by her star power, I admit that the honeymoon period is starting to wane and I’m starting to see a lot of issues she’ll need to fix if she wants to stay in the top echelon of the figure skating world. In her LP, Radionova did not land her jumps solidly and there are times when she’s barely hanging on. I would also like to see her skate more into her blades, which would give her more speed and power in her crossovers. This is the point in her career where she should start worrying about the quality of her edges and her basic skating skills because maintaining her jumps will likely be an uphill battle from here.

As for Anna Pogorilaya, she shows flashes of brilliance, someone needs to teach her how to use her lovely long limbs. And how to improve her posture. And how to emote. So much potential and so much to learn.

Honourable mention: Kiira Korpi was slow on the ice and her program wasn’t really that spectacular but that is the most polished skating I’ve seen this season from the ladies. I miss seeing that polish though I understand it’s something you can only get with time and experience. Sigh.

Pairs

Highlight: Despite the mistakes, Yuko Kavaguti & Alexander Smirnov left me breathless. This program needs to be skated to perfection. It is that epic.

Personally, I though Kavaguti & Smirnov were right on target at Euros. They skated with attack, took risks and pulled out two spectacular performances. The choreography for both their SP and LP is probably some of the best I’ve seen this season. It uses the nuances of the music, has interesting transitions and builds and wanes according to the story or the mood of the music. Well done, Tamara Moskvina. This team is simply sublime this season.

Compared to Kavaguti & Smirnov, Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov’s programs are nothing spectacular but the pair manage to skate their programs with such impressive sharp precision that the choreography almost doesn’t matter. I admit that I don’t really like their SP at all but there’s something really mesmerizing about the perfect unison and razor sharp precision to how they skated in their SP at Euros. As for their LP, well, I would’ve forgiven them for any mistake except the one they committed, which cost them the gold. That last throw triple salchow at the end of the program, timed perfectly to the music made that program. Without it, the program isn’t worth watching. I hope these two have made up since the competition ended – Ksenia looked very angry at the end of their skate – and that they have regrouped since then.

I doubt either of these Russian teams can compete with Duhamel & Radford’s technical firepower but at least if they put out good skates, we’ll have something pleasant to watch.

Ice Dance

Highlight: Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron’s FD. Subtle, dramatic and yet lovely.

I still don’t know how to feel about Papadakis & Cizeron. On one hand, I find the quality of their edges and skating skills a little suspect when I watch their SD. The intensity of the dance is there but the smoothness of blade on ice, the firm but intricate steps of well-done edgework doesn’t seem to be there for me. In their free dance, however, they show smooth control over their blades and combine it with chemistry and emotion enough to draw you in from start to finish. I’ll be curious about this team’s future and I’m also a little happy that a new team of coaches is challenging the reign of Marina and Igor.

Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte officially lost their title as the top European team here and this development jeopardizes their chances for a medal at Worlds this year. Although I found Cappellini & Lanotte’s skating and programs to be a lot better than they were earlier this season, I think that Marina Zueva may not have packaged this team well this year. The choreography itself is actually intricate and interesting but both their programs this year seem to show their inability to bring enough passion and intensity to portray the belligerent and yet sensual mood of the Paso Doble or tell the story of the dead rising from their graves. Somehow, in both programs, they come off as too bubbly and lighthearted sometimes. Perhaps Marina is doing this on purpose to expand their repertoire but I’m curious to see if they’ll regain their standing as the top European team.

Elena Ilinykh & Ruslan Zhiganshin experience a bit of a setback at Euros dropping from 2nd place after the SD to 4th overall. They had a rough skate in their FD and I think it will take them some more time to work through their growing pains as a new partnership. One of my friends argues that Elena is the best female ice dancer in the field at the moment. After watching her performance, I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s true but without a steady partner, her individual skills aren’t enough to pull the partnership through. Still, an interesting team to keep an eye out for in the future.

Honourable mention: Sara Hurtado & Adria Diaz – they still have one of the loveliest FDs of the season.

In any case, that’s it for now. I’ll write my 4CC post hopefully in the next few days.What were your highlights for Euros? Let me know in the comments!

~The Rinkside Cafe

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Quyen Thuy Tran
    Mar 18, 2015 @ 23:14:52

    I’m so glad for Yuko and Sasha, they have endured so much, and their programs are the best of this season.

    Reply

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