The competition at the ISU European Figure Skating Championships 2008 concluded Saturday in Zagreb, Croatia, with the Ladies Free Skating.
Ladies, Free Skating
In what was a Ladies Free Skating full of suspense, Carolina Kostner of Italy captured her second consecutive European title. Switzerland’s Sarah Meier surged from fourth to second to earn her second silver and newcomer Laura Lepistö (FIN) captured the bronze medal.
Kostner, who skated first in the final flight, nailed a beautiful triple flip-triple toe-double loop combination in the first seconds of her program to “Dumsky Trio” by Antonin Dvorak, but then she double the Lutz. A triple flip, loop, Salchow and a double Axel right at the end followed, but she singled a toeloop in combination with another double Axel and the final combination spin was wobbly. However, the other spins and steps were graded a level four and three. The 20-year-old received 111.97 points (54.99 element score/56.98 program component score) for this performance and was ranked second in the Free Skating, but remained in first overall at 171.28 points total. “I am very, very happy with my gold medal. It has been a tough week”, the Italian told the post-event press conference. “It was a new situation for me. It wasn’t easy last year, but I always want to go forward, not backward, and so I wanted to win again. It has been a hard week to stay concentrated. My performance was not the best, but I feel confident (for Worlds). I will work really hard for the World Championships and I’m actually looking forward to them. I think I can keep up with the best of the world”, explained.
Meier skated next to last. She stood in fourth after the Short Program where she had missed her triple Salchow. Performing to “La Folie in Black” and “Red Autumn”, by Tokuhide Niimi, the Swiss landed a triple Lutz-double toe-double loop combination, a triple Salchow-double toe, another triple Salchow and triple Lutz and a triple toeloop. The 23-year-old completed difficult spins, earning a level four for the combination spin and a level three for the other three spins as well as for the step sequence, and her only error came when she stepped out of a triple flip. Meier was ranked first in the Free Skating with a sesaons best of 113.00 points (57.96/55.04) and racked up 169.44 overall to move up to second place. “I am very happy that I won the silver medal. Last year I was a little disappointed (with silver). This year, I realized that it is harder to win a second medal. Everybody was stronger than last year, and it’s hard to win any medal”, she acknowledged. “I knew that everyone had skated really well. I gave a 100 percent in my program, and I just made an error on the triple flip. I’m especially proud of my two triple Salchows after missing it in the short program. I was very nervous”, Meier continued.
Lepistö, who competed in her first European Championships, produced a triple toe-triple toe combination, a triple loop, Salchow and three level-four spins in her routine to “Don Juan DeMarco”. However, she fell on her triple loop and doubled her Lutz. The 19-year-old scored 108.69 points (56.21/53.48), setting a new personal best for herself and took the bronze with 165.65 points. “This is my first time at European Championships. I knew that with good performances I had a chance to be on the podium, but I didn't expect it. I'm very speechless now”, Lepistö commented. “I saw that Julia (Sebestyen) started very well and I already thought I would be fourth. I crossed my fingers. I'm happy that it went this way and I was the one who was lucky”, she added when asked how it felt to watch the last skater performing.
Sebestyen finished fourth with 162.89 points. She reeled off a triple Lutz-double toe-double loop and a triple flip-double toe and another triple Lutz and good spins, but doubled a Salchow and a flip. Kiira Korpi (FIN) completed three clean triples but singled a flip and doubled two other jumps to drop from second to fifth (162.22 points). Valentina Marchei (ITA) was sixth at 153.34 points. Her performance included three clean triples and three level-four spins.