by Klaus Reinhold Kany
(26 January 2019) Russia has so many top girls and ladies that at each competition somebody different wins. The 2019 European queen of figure skating who was crowned in the Belorussian capital of Minsk, is 16-year-old Sofia Samodurova from St. Petersburg. She is a longtime student of 77-year-old legendary coach Alexei Mishin, was fifth at the Grand Prix Final in December 2018 and is skating in her first senior season. She had been second in a flawless short program to the music of ďNyahď which included an excellent combination of triple flip and triple toe loop, a very good triple loop and four level 4 elements. Her components had an average of 8.4.
She commented, ďToday I showed everything Iíve been working for the whole training session. I got 4,5 points more than my previous seasons best thanks to a hard working process. Right now I feel as if Iím still dancing on the ice, so I suppose I just need some extra time to calm down. The support of the public is so overwhelming. Therefore Iíd like to give thanks to the lovely audience as well.ď
In her free program to the rhythmical soundtrack of "Burlesque," GOEs of +3 dominated. She did the maximum of 7 triple and 4 double jumps, all of them clean, most of them excellent. Spins and steps were very good as well. In the second half she waved her hand to the specatators and motivated them to clap even louder. She proves to have a lot of talent for show and her components went up to 8.6
ďI am overwhelmed by emotions now," she said, ďI canít find words to describe what I am feeling now. I am European Champion and thatís so awesome. My coach told me to stop crying, but I canít, these are just my sincere emotions. Probably I am more happy about the fact that my coach is pleased with me. I didnít know how Alina skated. I tried not to listen to her score before I skated and just focused on my own program. This is my first senior championship and I am very happy that I was able to show such a result. However, I could have skated better in the second half of my program and I could have been more emotional and bright in some places.ď
Olympic Champion Alina Zagitova, only fifth at Russian Nationals, had taken the lead in a very good short program to "The Phantom of the Opera," but she was only two points ahead of Samodurova. In her combination the triple Lutz was excellent but the triple loop under-rotated. The best element was the level 4 step sequence which had four GOEs of +5. The components had an average of 9.1. She explained, ďIt was difficult to go back to training after a bad Russian Nationals. But my coaches and relatives helped me a lot to gain my motivation and positive emotions back. I went back to my home town after Nationals to sort my emotions. My parents took away my phone and gave me another one without internet, so Iím now reading books and Iím studying for school. Studying is important, I wonít do figure skating for my whole life. All this made it easier to finally go back to my training. I was very focused today and I held back my emotions. There were a few small errors. I need to be confident in myself.ď
But in her Carmen free program, she made several mistakes and therefore she had only the fourth best free program and won overall silver with 198.34 points. In her first combination, the triple Lutz was good but she fell on the triple toe loop which was under-rotated. The triple Salchow was very good but she stepped out of the second triple Lutz which was downgraded, but planned in combination with a triple loop. Both triple flips were under-rotated. steps and spins were as excellent as usual and the components around 8.8. She said, ďItís good, Iím in the top three and silver medal is also good Ė it could have been worse, so Iím happy with silver, but I wanted to do better for me personally.ď
The Finnish champion Viveca Lindfors won the bronze medal with 194.40 points after being fourth in the short program. There, her combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop was very good, but she stepped out of the triple flip. Her best element was the change foot combination spin. ďI enjoyed myself skating today and I am really happy and pleased with how I skated, especially because my preparation wasnít optimal due to a back problem. This didnít bother me during my skate, I didnít think about it, but it made me focus on different things. I am of course also very happy with my seasonís best score.ď
In the free program to the musical "Les Miserables," she skated in a very fresh and elegant style. Four triple jumps were very good, but she stepped out of the triple loop and doubled the toe loop after the second triple Lutz. Later she commented, ďItís a big personal victory for me since figure skating has taken such a big step forward since our last medal. I feel that it was a big accomplishment to have been able to reach the top three at the European Championships.ď
Lindfors only won a medal because the third Russian Stanislava Konstantinova made two mistakes in the short program. She doubled the Lutz of her combination and was so shocked that she did not add a second jump. Later she wanted to add a triple toe loop to the triple flip, but she fell on the second jump which was downgraded. Therefore she was nine points behind a medal position. Even the second best free program with five clean jumps and one under-rotated one was not enough and she finished on fourth position with 198.72 points. She commented, ďAfter the short program it was hard for me to go out, but I am glad with how I managed to skate today. I wanted to skate calmly, feel the music. Not everything went well. I made a stupid mistake that cost me many points. To go to the Universiade is a big honor for me. Obviously, I would like to go to Worlds, but the Universiade is another opportunity for me to confirm my position even if it is just for myself.ď
Laurine Lecavelier from France is on fifth place, earning 180.05 points. In the short program, her combination of triple toe loop and triple toe loop was clean, the triple Lutz a bit shaky, but the rest of the program good. She said, ď My preparation was complicated since I lost my coach (Jean-Francois Ballester died in December 2018). To a certain moment, I thought I was not going to be able to compete here, but I managed to change my mind and Iím here and I am pleased.ď In the free program, three triple jumps were clean, the triple toe loop was downgraded and she stepped out of the second triple Lutz. Provisionally she was coached by Brian Joubert, but she has not decided if she goes back to the US where she had worked with Kori Ade during the last season or if she stays in France.
Alexia Paganini from Switzerland, who lives and trains in Hackensack, New Jersey, is sixth with 179.90 points. She had been even third in an excellent short program with a good combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop and a good triple loop. In the free program, four triple jumps were good, but she lacked a bit of speed and enthusiasm for a better position. Mae-Berenice Meite from France finished seventh with 177.10 points and secured France a third spot together with Laurine Lecavelier. She is coached by Silvia Fontana and John Zimmerman in Florida. Her short program combination of triple toe loop and another triple toe loop was good, but she touched down and almost fell on the triple Lutz. In the long program, five triple jumps were good, but she made minor mistakes on two others. She said, ďI have a wonderful team and to train with Vanessa (James), Morgan (Cipres) and Kevin (Aymoz) definitely motivates me and keeps me pushing.ď
The second Finnish lady Emmi Peltonen, who is coached by Stephane Lambiel in Switzerland, finished on eighth place, earning 170.03 points. Nicole Rajikova from Slovakia, who lives in Hackensack, New Jersey, is ninth with 169.03 points. She had retired at the end of last season, but her federation president convinced her to keep competing for another season. Eliska Brezinova from the Czech Republic, the younger sister of Michal Brezina, is tenth with 166.77 points. 36 ladies competed, 24 of whom reached the free program.