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2014 European Championships

Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte are New European Ice Dance Champions

 by Klaus Reinhold Kany

(16 January 2014)  Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte from Italy won the 2014 European ice dance championships in a close decision with 171.61 points in front of about 3,000 spectators on Thursday night. They split their training time between Igor Shpilband in Michigan and their Italian coach Paola Mezzadri in Milan. Skating to a classical version of the Italian opera “Barber of Seville”, they excelled by very clean elements, a good speed and a friendly presentation. They made no mistake at all. Six of their elements had a level 4, the two step sequences a level 3. Their technical highlight was the combination lift, their components were around 9.0.

Cappellini said, “We felt tighter today than before the short dance. But going into this free dance being in the lead gave us a booth of confidence. Anyway when you are out there on the ice you’re not thinking about the others and their points. You have to go out and do your job. It took us some time yesterday to calm down, indeed it was an interesting position we were in speaking of emotions. This was also definitely a great step forward looking on to the Olympics.” Lanotte added: “We really skated with our hearts and wanted to give our maximum.”

Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov from Russia won the silver medal with 170.51 points. If Ilinykh had not fallen at the end of their twizzle sequence, which cost them between three and four points, they would have won. Ilinykh commented: “I can’t explain why it happened, we skated so well and then this mistake happened. This is sport.” All other elements were excellent, especially the lifts. Their special highlight also was the combination lift at the beginning of their Swan Lake program for which six of the nine judges gave a +3. They had the highest speed and an excellent interpretation. The average of their components was around 9.1 and they had even one 10.0 for choreography. Many experts think that they are the only couple in the world to be able to reach the level of Davis & White and Virtue/Moir one day, not yet in 2014, but maybe later because they only 19 and 22 years old.

Katsalapov said about her partner’s mistake: “Everybody saw Lena’s tears, she is very upset as we all are. Lena tried to be in unison with me in the twizzles. I hugged and kissed her on the cheek and told her ‘You are great.’ This is all I said because I was out of breath. And it is true, she was great. She did exactly what we had decided on earlier – we wanted to skate for each other.”

The British champions Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland are third with 158.69 points. It was the fifth time they participated at the European championships and their first medal. They interpreted a Michael Jackson medley, performing some spectacular lifts in very high speed. Coomes explained: “I am so tiny, so we take advantage of this fact.” But they also had some slower passages in the middle part of their Michael Jackson medley. Buckland said, “We chose this music because we wanted something which the spectators in Sochi like very much. And Michael Jackson is known in Russia as well as everywhere in the world.”

Coomes added, “We had to skate first in the group, but our coach Evgeni (Platov) is so great, he gets us to the practice skating in all the different positions. Actually in our most recent mini-draw with the other teams in our rink we skated first and it was great. We will go back to England after this to get our Olympic kit – it is so exciting. Then we go back to New Jersey for ten days to work on the technical aspect before we start the team event in Sochi.”

Victoria Sinitsina and Ruslan Zhiganshin from Russia are on fourth position at their first European championship, earning 153.78 points. Skating to the opera “Norma” by Louis Alexandre Soumet, they played Roman characters. They as well had six times level 4 and two times level 3 on their step sequence, but there we a few very little wobbles. Sinitsina commented: “Of course we would love to go to the Olympics. We have our aims and did not watch our fellow competitors.” The Russian federation had announced that they will decide one week after the European championships which skaters they will send to Sochi. As Sinitsina and Zhiganshin beat their team mates Riazanova/Tkachenko like they had done at Russian Nationals, it is very probable that they will be nominated as third couple. On the other hand, their rivals are much more experienced in the senior ranks.

Riazanova and Tkachenko ended up fifth with 150.44 points. Riazanova’s twizzle sequence was a bit shaky, but otherwise they skated well, but not very spectacular to the musical “Phantom of the Opera”. Tkachenko said, “We are waiting for the final results of the European championships to know who goes to the Olmypics.”

Julia Zlobina and Alexei Sitnikov skate for Azerbaijan and mainly train in Novi, Michigan under Alexei Gorshkov and Igor Shpilband. They are on sixth position with147.78 points. They skated to different pieces of the soundtrack of “Pina”. Sitnikov said. “We actually did not know that the German pair Savchenko/Szolkowy had skated to this music, we only learnt it in the summer during practice.” Six of their elements had level 4, the two step sequences level 2. Seventh were the German champions Nelli Zhiganshina and Alexander Gazsi with 145.37 points, eighth the second Italian couple Charlène Guignard and Marci Fabbri with144.40 points, ninth the Lithuanian skaters Isabelle Tobias and Deividas Stagniunas with 142.31 points.

Two coaches were dominant; Barbara Fusar Poli and Igor Shpilband had each around ten teams, some of them together, sometimes one of them alone, sometimes one of them with a third coach. Nathalie Péchalat and Fabian Bourzat from France as well as Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev from Russia did not compete because they have to skate the team competition and the individual event at the Olympic Games. Therefore they preferred to prepare at home.