by Klaus Reinhold Kany
(16 January 2014) The European Championships in Budapest started on Wednesday with the short program of the 37 ladies. Two more had been entered, but the Irish and the Greek girl did not meet the required technical minimum points. They had tried at several smaller competitions, the last time only week earlier in Poland, but in vain. Clara Peters from Ireland failed to get it by three hundredth points. In Budapest, there are less than two points between the first and the third place in the short program, so everything is open for the free program. Adelina Sotnikova (17) from Russia won with 70.73 points. Skating to Habanera from the Carmen Suite in an energetic way, she started with a very good combination of two triple toe loops, which all nine judges awarded a +2, followed by an excellent triple flip. Everything was first class as well, including a brilliant flying camel spin for which six of the nine judges even gave a +3.
She said: “It was not perfect, there were little mistakes in it, but overall I am pleased with it. I think that the axel was a bit shaky and that I lost speed in a spin. I got a new season’s best and that is what I need in this competition. I did it in the short, now I have to do it in the free.”
Teammate Julia Lipnitskaia, only 15 years old, is second, earning 69.97 points in an almost flawless program to “You Don’t Give up on Love” by Mark Minkov. She landed the most difficult combination in the field, which was triple Lutz and triple toe loop, but got an edge call for the Lutz. The triple flip and the double axel were solid, and the three level 4 spins the best in the field. Therefore she had the highest technical score of all 37 skaters. She said: “The flip could have been a bit easier, it was a bit low, but other than that I am very pleased with this program. It is the second half of the season already and there is a certain tiredness, therefore there is no energy left for getting nervous.”
The reigning European champion Carolina Kostner from Italy revealed her new short program to Franz Schubert’s “Ave Maria” and sits on third position, winning 68.97 points. Her presentation was certainly the best of all 37 skaters, but the 26-year-old skater was a bit slower than the Russian girls and two of her spins were easier, especially the layback spin (level 2), maybe due to her back problems. Her combination of two triple toe loop was sovereign, the triple loop good as well and the step sequence very elegant.
She commented: “I skated this program as a show number in Oberstdorf, but it was the first time for me to skate it in competition. When the music started it calmed me down and it just felt like the fog went away and it was the first time, it was a special feeling. After the Cup of Russia, I had a problem with my back and strong headaches and we decided to withdraw from Nationals and the University Games. We were thinking of doing something that would cheer me up. Lori Nichol is such a special choreographer. Working with her, we came up with this idea.”
Alena Leonova is 23 years old and the oldest of the three Russian ladies. The student of Nikolai Morozov is fourth with 64.09 points and skated to Russian folk music including the famous “Kalinka” with a lot of energy and visible joy, but a bit less elegant and more down-to earth than the top three. Therefore her components were lower, which was correct. Her combination of two triple toe loops came out excellent, and the other elements including a triple flip at least very good.
Later she commented: “I’m more pleased with the skate than the marks, but I haven’t had a chance to look at them properly yet. But before the competition I look at all the levels with my coach, and when I get on the ice it’s more important to have fun and make everyone happy, me, my coach and my mum and dad. It’s such a cool short program, I really love it. The Russian theme is great, the Russian costume as well, especially before the Olympics.
Maé-Bérénice Méité from France is currently fifth 58.64 points although she stepped out of the triple loop after beginning with a good combination of two triple toe loops. “I was nervous of course, skating after Carolina and before Adelina put some pressure on me”, she said. “Some day I want to be just like them, and I think I’m on a good way. I would love to break the top 5 here at Europeans.” In practice she had tried several triple axels. The second Italian skater Valentina Marchei, who trains mainly in Detroit with Jason Dungjen, is sixth with 57.38 points. She began with a combination of triple Salchow and triple toe loop, which is new for her in this season, but underrotated the toe loop. Her triple Lutz was not performed with steps before and she overturned the double axel. Seventh is Elene Gedevanishvili with 54.78 points.