The 2009 European Figure Skating Championships continued Friday in Helsinki, Finland, with the Ladies Short Program and the Free Dance.
Ladies, Short Program
To the delight of the home crowd, Finland’s Laura Lepistö and Susanna Pöykiö finished first and second in the Ladies Short Program. Carolina Kostner of Italy came in third.
Skating to “Oceanic”, Lepistö landed a clean triple toe-triple toe combination, a triple loop and produced two level-four spins, but singled the Axel. The reigning European bronze medallist earned 56.62 points (30.30 element score/26.32 program component score). “I feel good and relieved. I was pretty nervous in the morning, but after the practice I got into my normal competition mood”, Lepistö told the press. “I am disappointed about the single Axel, it just slipped somehow. Nailing the triple-triple combination was amazing, with the audience cheering, I had to gather my thoughts after it. There’re still some things to improve”, she continued, referring to the Free Skating. “I feel good going for the free skate, I left out the biggest emotions today. Instead of single elements the key thing is to stay focused, that’s been challenging for me this season. Now I’ll do a cool down, eat and try to sleep well.
Pöykiö turned in a solid performance to “Leeloos’ Tune” by Maksim Mrvica that featured a triple flip, triple Lutz-double toe combination, a double Axel, but her spins and spirals were graded a level one and two. The 2005 European silver medalist scored a new seasons best of 56.06 points (29.30/26.76). “This is a great position before the free skate, I wouldn’t want to leave from the leading position. In addition to jumps I’ll have to pay attention to spins and spiral sequences, holding my spirals long enough. It’s going to be a tough day tomorrow, that’ll decide the competition”, Pöykiö said.
Kostner hit a triple flip-double toeloop combination, a double Axel and two level-three spins in her expressive Tango routine to “Mujer Sola” and “Canaro en Paris”, but took an unexpected fall on the entry of the triple Lutz. When she wanted to take off for the jump, her blades collided. The two-time and defending European Champion got 51.36 points (24.40/27.96). “These things that you can’t prepare for happen often in competition but rarely in practice. In practice flip and Lutz have been going really well”, Kostner said, referring to the mistake. “I planned a triple-triple (combination), but something threw me off on the entry, maybe a baby cried, but this is no excuse. I have to be more focused. I will attack tomorrow and I want to catch up. I can’t be pleased today, I have to fight.”
The skaters ranked fourth to seventh are close to the podium. Jenna McCorkell (GBR) finished fourth at 50.00 points. The wife of Men’s bronze medallist Kevin van der Perren hit a triple flip-double toeloop combination but touched down with her hand on the double Axel. Katarina Gerboldt, who skated with a drainage in her nose as she is recovering from sinusitis, is sitting in fifth place. She landed a triple Lutz, triple flip-double toe and double Axel (48.62 points). Ivana Reitmayerova (SVK) came in sixth with another clean performance (48.00 points).
Ice Dance, Free Dance
The Ice Dance event concluded with an exciting Free Dance and many strong performances. Russia’s Jana Khokhlova/Sergei Novitski danced off with the gold medal while Federica Faiella/Massimo Scali of Italy took the silver and Sinead Kerr/John Kerr (GBR) earned the bronze medal. It was the first ISU Championships medal for the Italians and the Scots.
Khokhlova/Novitski skated last and put out a fast paced and technically demanding program to “Caprice 24” by Niccolo Paganini. The Russians produced difficult lifts including a one-armed rotational lift and a straight line lift with changes of position and a dance spin. The 2008 World and European bronze medalists were awarded a level four for all but two elements. The combination spin and the circular steps were a level three. Khokhlova/Novitski picked up 97.31 points (49.50 element score/47.81 program component score), which was a new seasons best. They racked up a total of 196.91 to take the gold and their first title. “It is still unreal. We put out all our emotions out there on the ice. It was just amazing to perform today in front of this supportive audience. I think this gold medal is only the beginning of a long way, but it was a big step for us”, Khokhlova commented. “We haven’t quite understood yet what happened. We haven’t skated last that often, usually we skate first. So it was an experience for us. It was hard to wait until all our main rivals had skated and more than 30 minutes had passed until we went out of the warm up area. But I think we dealt with it well”, added Novitski.
Faiella/Scali performed a lyrical routine to “Moonlight Sonata” in the roles of Pierrot, the sad clown. The Italians completed a combination spin, a curve lift, straight line lift and twizzles that were graded a level four and also smooth footwork that got a level three. Only their serpentine lift was a level two. Faiella/Scali scored a new seasons best of 91.11 points (45.80/45.31) and were ranked fourth in the Free Dance but held on to second place at 186.17 points. As soon as the skaters understood that they were on the podium, they hugged each other backstage for a long time and Faiella broke down in tears of happiness. “We are so happy when we saw that we got the silver medal. It is really hard to describe the feeling, it’s so strange. The pressure was really high, because we were for the first time in this situation”, Scali explained. “We are excited that we are on the top and we want to stay there. We were dreaming of a medal at Europeans and Worlds and Olympics since we were 10 years old and in the last two, three years we were waiting for this medal.”
Kerr/Kerr were less than one point behind the Italians. The brother and sister team delivered an emotional dance to “Ruled by Secrecy” by Muse that was highlighted by a curve lift in a low position, a rotational lift and intricate steps. The Technical Panel graded three lifts and the spin as well as the circular footwork a level four while the midline step sequence, the twizzles and the straight line lift were a level three. Kerr/Kerr scored 92.60 points (46.90/45.70), which was a new seasons best for them and accumulated 185.20 points overall. It was the first figure skating medal for Great Britain in 15 years. Jayne Torvill/Christopher Dean were European Champions in 1994.
“We knew it would be really really difficult this year (to win a medal) because there are many teams so close to each other. Pechalat and Bourzat beat us last year at Europeans and Worlds, so to come above them here was great because they are great skaters too”, Sinead Kerr commented. “Our program is about skating skills, edge quality and smooth skating. I think we really got into the music. Last year we maybe got away with just the audience’s reaction, but this year we did it also with our skating skills”, she went on.
Nathalie Pechalat/Fabian Bourzat (FRA) gave a strong performance of their entertaining Clown routine and were ranked second in the Free Dance, but overall they remained in fourth place, just 0.36 points off the podium (184.84 points). Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte (ITA) danced to “Love Story” and moved up from sixth to fifth place at 172.67 points.
Nora Hoffmann/Maxim Zavozin (HUN) withdrew before the Free Dance as he was fighting illness and had high fever. They stood in 11th place following the Original Dance.
The competition at the ISU European Figure Skating Championships 2009 concludes Saturday with the Ladies Free Skating.
photo Getty Images
photo Getty images
photo Getty Images