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2013 European Championships

Defending Champion Falls as a 16-year-old Seizes Her Moment, A Face for the Future

 by Alexandra Stevenson

Kiira Korpi Pulls Our of Europeans

by Alexandra Stevenson

The 24-year old, drop-dead gorgeous blonde Finn, Kira Korpi, has withdrawn from the European Championships which open in Zagreb on January 21.

This would have been her ninth straight entry in the event. She claimed the bronze medal twice (2007 & 2011) and was second last year.

This season was shaping up to possibly be her best ever. She won bronze in her first Grand Prix (in Shanghai), and then gold in her second (in Moscow). In doing so, she became the first ever Finn to qualify for the Grand Prix Final.

Only the top six scorers from two events of this series of six events go through to the Final, which was staged in Sochi in December. She finished fourth, competing in the new arena in which the Olympic figure skating event will take place.

However, a flare-up of her left Achilles Tendon injury has prevented her from practicing for over two weeks. She and her coach made the decision to pull out after consulting a doctor on Tuesday.

Korpi showed she still has her sense of humor. She said (in Finnish), "Somebody else's body is better for this sport but I do believe I have my own strengths. The worst thing was making the decision to withdraw. I need to be in top shape for Worlds (in March in London, Ontario) because the results there will determine how many entries Finland gets for the 2014 Olympics."





(25 January 2013Veterans Pushed Aside by Newcomers

1. 67.61 (37.25+30.36) Adelina Sotnikova, a 16-year-old from Moscow, making her debut at this level of competition, took a significant lead of 3.42 in the opening round of the Ladies European Championship on Friday. Skating 27th of the 36 hopefuls from 30 countries, over an hour before the contest finished (which included time for an ice resurfacing), the expressive Soknikova interpreted, “Capriccio Espagnol”, beginning with a combination of two triple toe loop jumps, that were significantly higher than any her many rivals presented.

The majority of the nine judges punched in “+2” Grade of Execution for most of Soknikova’s seven required elements. There was a single “0”, which still means satisfactory in every aspect, and a single “+3” among the total of 63 GoEs which are given each competitor.  Strangely, that “0” was given for her impressive combination. That judge was the lowest marker overall. He/she punched in five “1”s and only one “2”, which he/she gave for Soknikova’s closing, dazzling Level 4 combination spin. Another judge was so impressed by that spin he/she gave the maximum +3, which was the only such award given in the Ladies Short Program. For the four elements which get “levels” (three spins and the steps), Sotnikova received the maximum “4” from the Technical Panel and her components were the highest, 1.47 above Kostner, although the defending champion trailed the Russian on the technical score by 3.89 points.

Sotnikova won the Russian national title three times beginning when she was only 12, although she was only third this season. She could not previously be entered for the European or World Senior championships because she was under the age limit, which, for this season, has gone down a year to “must have reached 15 on July 1 before the event.”

Sotnikova’s high jumps are directly attributable to her coach, Elena Vodorezova Buianova, a child skating prodigy, who won two bronze medals in the European championships before a minimum age limit was adopted, but whose competitive career was cut short by juvenile rheumatoid arthritis.

The youngster said after she skated, “Today I’m very happy, I did everything I set out to and it was my first clean short program I did at the senior level. Hopefully I’ll skate as well tomorrow.” When she learned she had retained the lead, she said, “I have no words at the moment, just such strong emotion. I am so pleased with myself. I am so content. I wanted to really present the program from the very beginning. During the steps, after the elements were all finished, I could do this especially. I could go fast and enjoy it. At the end, I wanted to let out all my emotions. The audience was so great. They helped me all the way through the routine. This is the highest score I’ve ever had so I am very pleased. I can make this program better, with more speed. I wasn’t especially nervous. It was like I expected.”

Sotnikova had won the Golden Skate international on this same ice in 2011. “Yes, I won here,” she said, “Though, then, my long program didn’t go so well. But, I try not to think about what in the past. I live in the moment.”

2. 64.19 (33.36+31.83 -1) Carolina Kostner, the Italian defending champion, is taking part in her 11th straight European championship. She first entered this event in 2003, when she placed fourth. She was fifth the following year, and then seventh but won bronze in 2006 and then gold in 2007 & 2008. She was pushed down to silver in 2009 but got gold again in 2010. Then it was back to silver in 2011. Last year, she not only won gold in Europeans, she became the first Italian woman to win the singles title at the World championship. But Kostner was the only woman to fall in the top eight in Zagreb in the Short Program.  Winning or losing will not faze her. She performed two slots earlier than Sotnikova, in an unusually styled white dress with chiffon along her arms but a large cut-out on her back.

The 25-year old began her routine, set to “A Transylvania Lullaby”, from the soundtrack of the movie, Young Frankenstein by John Morris, and “The Devil’s Trill” by Guiseppe Tartina, with a good triple loop, which gained eight +2 Grades of Execution and one +1. The scale has seven levels from -3 for a fall through to +3 for a move which is “top world championship standard”).

But after that, Kostner fell on the second jump of her combination of two triple toe loops. The rest of the routine was well done with a Level 4 flying camel spin which was rewarded with an extra +0.43. Her double Axel, which has caused her problems in the past, was bigger than usual and one judge rewarded this element with the maximum +3.  Many skaters aim for height only on jumps, but Kostner’s have great length as well as height.

She said, “Apart from my fall, I’m very pleased with how I skated. I felt very comfortable with the performance. I hope to do better tomorrow. I was a bit angry with myself. Usually, I am always nervous at competition. I’m not more nervous now. In the years when I competed in a lot more competitions I was nervous. But, after 11 years, it’s more difficult to motivate yourself. I’m not the strongest person in competition, but I like to practice and I try to get stronger.

“I respect every competitor for the work they do. I don’t compete against something specific. I have a lot to fight with myself. I don’t want to waste energy comparing myself with others.”   

3. 58.22 (30.45+27.77) Valentina Marchei, 26, Kostner’s teammate from Italy, who trains at the Detroit Figure Skating Club, has had a lot of ups and downs. She took part in her first “Europeans” in 2001 and was 10th. She didn’t return until 2004, when she was 15th. The following year she dropped to 31st. In 2006 she was 19th, but in 2007 she was 5th and then 6th the following year. In 2010 she finished 8th. In 2011 she was 10th and then last year 8th again.

So, she is delighted to be lying third at this stage. When the result flashed up on the monitor, she burst into joyful tears. She said, “It was my first real clean Short Program this season. I’m very happy because it was very stressful going into it. I did exactly as I was doing in practice - nothing more and nothing less, exactly as planned. I stress myself so much anyways. I was stressed because I knew I was ready. When you’re in shape, it’s very difficult to control yourself. You have to not let the atmosphere of the arena and competition stress get to you. I guess Franca (Bianconi, her coach) had a good role in this because she helped me to calm down and put me back on my feet and feeling comfortable. Her father, who represented Italy in the Olympic marathons in 1980 & 1984, inspired her to keep trying.

Marchei’s layback spin and Straight Line steps were both given Level 3 with +0.79 and +0.57GoEs respectively. Her double Axel received an extra +0.36 over its base value. Both her flying sit and change foot combination spins were Level 4 and had 0.50 added.

She performed 34th with only two other competitors left. Her music was “Esperanza” by Maxime Rodriguez. She opened with a triple Lutz to double toe loop and a triple Salchow. Both elements earned an extra +0.20. The Layback spin and her steps were deemed Level 3 with an extra +0.79 and +0.57 respectively. Her double Axel was rewarded with +0.36 over its base value. Her final two elements, the flying sit and the change foot combination spins got the top Level 4 with 0.50 added. Her components were the third highest, although the German Nathalie Weinzierl got a fractionally higher technical mark.  

4. 57.18 (29.47+27.71) Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, another 16-year old Russian making her debut in this event, presented her routine to the famed Astor Pizzola’s Tango, “Adios Nonino”. She said, “I love the music. That is my style.” But there was an immediate problem. She explained, “My triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination didn’t work out.  I did a double to triple. The combination was going well in practice but I felt a little shaky in the warm-up. Maybe, therefore, I grew nervous. I also made a little mistake on the double Axel (which lost her a half point). I will be calmer for the Free. In the Short, there is more pressure because if you make mistakes, you will be ranked too low and maybe can’t move up.”    

5. 55.04 (29.01+26.03) Joshi Helgesson, 19, from Sweden, drew to skate 32nd, immediately before her elder sister and performed to “Mystere” from Cirque du Soleil. After finishing 10th in her debut in this event last year, she was delighted with her standing here. She said, “It was difficult that Viktoria had to skate right after me, as we have just the one coach. I’m always nervous watching her as I cannot help, and I want her to show her best. When I came off the ice, I was really happy with my performance. Apart from a little mistake, it went well.”

She earned a half point extra for her first element, a nice triple Lutz. However, on her combination, a triple Salchow to double toe loop with a difficult variation, in which she puts an arm over her head during the rotation of the second jump, she had to step out of the second landing and lost -1.30 from its base value. The double Axel was fine. Two of her spins earned the maximum Level 4. The Layback spin and the Steps were Level 3. Joshi was given a higher technical score than Viktoria but the older sibling received more points for her components.  

6. 54.77 (27.88+26.89)  Viktoria Helgesson, 24, who was fifth in the 2012 European championship, this season lost the Swedish national title, which she had won six times, to her younger sister. And it is possible Joshi could eclipse her again. Only a fraction, 0.27 currently separates the two. Joshi got a greater technical score but Viktoria received higher component marks.

Skating to the music “Poinciana”, Viktoria opened with a combination of two triple toe loop jumps but got -0.80 removed from the base value because the second jump was given an arrow for under-rotation. Then she lost two full marks on her triple loop because she put her hand on the ice. She said, “I don’t know what happened on the loop. I have to study the tape. I haven’t seen my Levels yet, but I’m really happy with my performance, apart from the loop. I haven’t done the triple-triple very often. I need to do it 100% at home before I can do it in competition. It felt good. I try to improve little by little with each competition, and I think I’m doing that.”

7. 53.32 (30.49+22.83) Lenaella Gilleron-Gorry, France, 17, is a newcomer to this event, who skated 21st to music from the Opera “Tristan & Isolda”. She said, “I am very pleased. I was stressed out when I went out to skate but once the music started I got into it. It was tough after the French Nationals. I had finished fourth and psychologically it was hard for me to come back, but I tried not to ask myself too many questions. I want to take the Free, element by element. The technique is my strong point; the spins are my weak point so far. I have two different themes for the short and long program and they both suit me very well.

8. 52.28 (39.79+21.49) Nathalie Weinzerl, an 18-year-old from Germany, is making her second appearance in this event. She finished 22nd last year. She performed to music from “Exodus” performed by Maksim Mrvica. Until she was 11, she was a competitive skier.

She said, “I’m very happy about my performance. For the first time, both the triple Lutz and triple flip worked out well in a program. I was a bit too slow in the landing of the double axel, therefore it wasn’t quite clean. In practice everything went well. This helps a lot. It means you go into the warm up with a good feeling. Obviously the goal is to skate clean on Saturday. If I skate as I plan, it is possible to make the top ten. I would really like to go to (Senior) Worlds and Junior Worlds. I enjoy competing. I completed my final exams at school. I feel good about them, but I’ll find out about my marks only later.

9. 51.90 (28.67+24.23 -1) Elena Glebova, Estonia, moved to the U.S. in 2011 and has been training in Hackensack, NJ, for some time now. She skated 26th, right after Kostner, to “Tales and Legends” by Rolando Tambin. The 23-year-old seven-time national champion fell on her first element, a triple Lutz, which also was saddled with an “e” for wrong edge take-off. She readily admitted, “It wasn’t my best performance. I was disappointed with the fall. It has always been the hardest jump for me but most of the time this season, I’ve been landing it. My Personal Best is 52 with a clean performance so this was close. I’m thinking, if I hadn’t fallen, I would have maybe another four points. Ah well, tomorrow’s another day.” 

10. 51.47 (28.90+22.57) Juuli Turkkila, Finland, 18, finished 17th in this event last year in her debut. She won silver in her national championship this season. About her performance in Zagreb, which was set to Stravinsky’s “Firebird”, she said, “It was very good. I really enjoyed my performance. It feels great with the audience cheering me all the time. Tomorrow, I want to come out and skate clean but most of all enjoy my performance again and be happy. We have a great team so Kiira Korpi’s withdrawal hasn’t affected us really. It has not affected me personally. It is my first time in Zagreb, so on Sunday I plan to go with other skaters on a sightseeing tour.”

11. 51.07 (29.02+22.05) Sonia Lafuente, the Spanish champion, presented a routine which had no errors. The 21-year-old, who skated to music from the sound track of the modern movie, “Romeo & Juliet” was 12th in the European championship in 2011 but 15th last year. She was smiling after her performance. “I am so happy with my performance especially because finally I have the technical score to qualify for Worlds. I didn’t feel so confident of the combination to start but I had the energy for a good triple flip so I did that and put the double toe after the triple loop. Everyone on the Spanish team is so impressed with how many Spanish fans are here, showing our flags and cheering. It seems like we are in Spain.”

12. 50.92 (27.71+23.21) Nicol Gosviani is the Russian 16-year-old third entry. She is coached by Olympic champion, Alexei Urmanov. Skating to Joe Hisaishi’s “Nocturne”, she opened her routine with a combination of two triple toe loops. However, although the double Axel earned +0.57, her intended triple flip became a double, and was given an “e” for wrong edge take-off. Two of her three spins were Level 4. The steps and her layback spin were Level 3.

She said, “It was a nice feeling to skate here, but not everything worked out and I am a little upset about that.” She gave the reason for doubling the flip as, “Maybe I was a little too nervous. I would have done the flip if I had attacked it with more confidence. Usually I’m always landing the flip. I didn’t really expect to be selected for this event (since she was only sixth in Russian nationals), but I am very happy about it. I didn’t feel more nervous as usual. I will now forget about what happened today and will skate much better tomorrow.”

13. 50.79 (27.79+24.30 -1) Mae Berenice Meiti, France, said, “I’m feeling so-so. I fell on the triple toe-triple toe combination and the triple flip wasn’t clean. I don’t know what happened. I can’t explain it. But even if I don’t do it well, I love this routine.” The 18-year-old performed to Michael Buble’s “Feeling Good”. She has been runner-up for the French title four times, and once was third. She was ninth in her debut in the European Championship in 2011 but only 13th last year. 

14. 50.27 (27.48+22.79) Monika Simancikova, 17, from Slovakia, which is north of Croatia, in which Zagreb is the capital city, finished 14th in this event last year. She gained Level 4 for all three spins, but messed up her triple flip out of steps. 

15. 49.60 (28.76+20.84) Kerstin Frank, 24, is the twice Austrian champion, who finished 12th in last year’s European Preliminary Round, a section which no long exists. She said, about her place “I am relieved. The whole day I had a good feeling, and in the past days I noticed the warm atmosphere in Zagreb, as compared to the cold snowy and rainy weather, and was looking forward to performing here today. I came early this week to practice in the main rink, as the ice in the practice rink is very different, harder than in the main rink.”

16. 48.75 (23.54+26.21 -1) Elene Gedevanishvili, 23, who finished in the top ten in the 2006 Olympic Games, represents the country of her birth, Georgia, and is the first person from her country to medal in an ISU championship. Her family moved to the United States, to New Jersey, although she now trains with Brian Orser in Canada. Last year and in 2010, she earned the bronze medal in those European championships. However, a fall on her initial move, a triple Lutz that was to be her combination and a mistake on her triple Salchow has her buried. She said, “Obviously, this wasn’t a good performance. My legs felt very heavy and I had poor practices all week, so I am not surprised by the mistakes.

17. 47.97 (27.29+20.68) Anita Madsen, 17, from Denmark, is making her debut.

18. 47.18 (27.16+20.02) Kaat van Daele, the Belgian champion, 23, making her second appearance in this championship, skated to “Exogenesis” by Muse, and lies six slots up from her debut last year, just 0.01 ahead of McCorkell, and less than a point behind Madsen.

19. 47.17 (22.70+24.47) Jenna McCorkell, the ten-time British champion, opened her routine, set to “Imagined Oceans” by Karl Jenkins, with a planned triple flip to double toe loop, which earned +0.40 over its base value of 6.60 points. However, the solo jump from footwork must be a triple, and when it became a double, she earned no points at all for this element.

The layback spin is only done well by those with a certain physique, who have manipulated their spines throughout their child-hood. McCorkell is at a disadvantage in this respect and earned only Level 2 for this move. Her two other spins were the maximum Level 4 and her steps Level 2. She said, “I’m not happy with the scores or the way I skated. I messed up the triple toe. I can’t remember the last time I missed a triple toe. I’m very unhappy. I’ve had a good season so far (she won two international competitions, in Bratislava and Graz) but not today. It wasn’t good – not what I needed.”

20. 46.66 (24.67+21.99) Fleur Maxwell, 24, from Luxembourg retired from the competitive figure skating after placing 25th in the 2006 European championship and 24th in the Olympic Games a few weeks later. She returned to the sport in 2009. Here in Zagreb, she didn’t give a bad performance to “With or Without You” by U2, but, with a triple Salchow to double toe loop as the combination and with an arrow for under-rotation given for her double Axel, she could not place higher.

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