by Klaus-Reinhold Kany
Russian Pairs Sweep European Championships
© International Skating Union (ISU)
Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov, European Pairs Champions
(15 January 2022) The pairs competition of the 2022 European Championships in Tallinn, Estonia, had a mixed level. The three medalists from Russia were outstanding, but the other pairs were not really good.
25 pairs had entered three days before the opening, as many as never before at Europeans, but several dropped out. The Israelis Kops & Krasnoplski could not come from Hackensack, NJ, due to Covid-19 problems. They are qualified for Beijing. The new Swiss and former American pair of Pfund & Santillan withdrew after Santillan was tested positive before leaving their training base in Ellenton, Florida. The Italians Della Monica & Guarise did not come because Della Monica had a small knee injury which she wanted to get healed before leaving to the Olympic Games. In good shape, they could be in the Top Ten in China. The Austrians Ziegler & Kiefer withdrew after Kiefer fell badly on his hand during practice in Tallinn. He hopes to be healthy again for Beijing. Finally 21 pairs competed, 16 of whom reached the Final.
The three Russian teams were much better than all others and therefore the result was the expected medal sweep for Russia. All three pairs from this country may fight for an Olympic gold medal in Beijing, but not under “Russia“ but a different name for the country which is a bit ridiculous. Each of them may win there, and the only other top pair will be the Chinese Wenjing Sun & Cong Han.
Anastasia Mishina & Aleksandr Galliamov, the reigning World Champions from the school of Tamara Moskvina and Artur Minchuk in St. Petersburg, won the gold medal with 239.82 points at their very first European Championships. This was a new world record of points. They had taken the lead in their fabulous short program to “Variations on the Ballet Esmeralda“ by Cesare Pugni with 82.36 points. All seven elements were very precise, in excellent synchronization and got mainly GOEs of +4, the twist (with level 3), the triple throw flip, the side by side Salchow, the step sequence (level 3) and everything else. Their components were around 9.5. Mishina commented, “We enjoyed our skating. This time it was with the public, we saw the Russian flags and we felt support. I am so happy to skate not just for the people on the TV.“
In their free program to “The Snowstorm“ by Georgi Sviridov and to “Time, Forward“ by the same composer, almost all elements were excellent again. Mishina only stumbled a bit on the first of the two triple Salchows in their jump sequence. GOEs of +4 were dominant and the +5 prevailed in the triple throw loop and in the loop lift. Another outstanding element was the triple throw flip. All level elements had a level 4 and the components again had an average of 9.5.
Mishina said, “Today was a bit more difficult to skate, maybe because it was late. We didn’t skate a lot after the new year, we had a vacation, we had only one week to prepare, so it’s good. The program was an idea of our coach to connect these two music pieces. It’s the same composer. When we tried to do the choreography and connection - it’s the life of two young people and something bright is happening and the fast music starts and we show our emotion and something good happens and we try to show difference between first and second part. When I switched to pair skating around the age of 10 my idols were Volosozhar/Trankov and Aljona Savchenko.“ Galliamov added, “The strong competition within Russia helps us, the coaches train us to do that from the very young age when you first join the sport and the best survives. The competition makes the athletes better.“
The silver medal with 236.43 points went to Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov who left Marina Zoueva in Florida and have trained with single skating star coach Eteri Tutberidze and with Olympic pair champion Maxim Trankov in the last seven months. They competed to “Metamorphosis Two“ by Philip Glass and to “Experience“ by Ludovico Einaudi and explained they play “Pygmalion and Galathea.“ Their twist with five GOEs of +5 is maybe the best in the world. Five other elements, including a triple toe loop, were outstanding as well. Tarasova only touched down a bit on the triple throw loop. The components were around 9.4. Morozov explained, “We fought today for a clean skate. There was a slight mistake on the throw jump. It’s good we concentrated and we did it.“
The pair from Moscow opened their free program to “Lighthouse“ by Patrick Watson with a side by side triple Salchow where she stumbled. The combination of a triple toe loop and two double toe loops was good, but all other elements outstanding again, with GOEs of mainly +5 and +4. This time the triple throw loop and the last lift got eight GOEs of +5. The components reached 9.5. Morozov commented, “Tonight was good skating for us, we were confident and concentrated on our free program, it was really good for us, not best we can do. Our team works like expensive and good watches for us.“
Aleksandra Boikova & Dmitrii Kozlovskii, who are from the same St. Petersburg pair skating school as the gold medalists, won the bronze medal with 227.23 points. The European Champions from 2020 skated to “Swan Lake“. Six of their elements were excellent and had mainly GOEs of +3 and +4, including a triple throw flip. But Boikova doubled the Salchow which Kozlovskii tripled as planned. Therefore they lost around four points and were five points behind the two top teams. Their components had an average of 9.3.
“Mistakes happen, the ice is slippery, that's why it happened that way. That's all,” Boikova said.
In their free program to Malaguena, their first element was an outstanding triple Salchow, followed by jump combination of one triple toe loop and two double toe loops, the third of which he landed a bit shakily. Lifts, throws and everything else were excellent and looked easy. Their components were around 9.2. Kozlovskii said, “We managed to put together a clean, decent skate today. We are satisfied with ourselves. A small mistake did not affect the scores and the level of presentation of our program in any way.“
Karina Safina & Luka Berulava came fourth with 184.05 points. They compete for Georgia but are really Russians who train under Pavel Sliusarenko in Perm, almost 1,000 miles east of Moscow. The young pair had won an Olympic spot for Georgia at the Nebelhorn Trophy and had been nominated for Tallinn in the last minute instead of their countrymen Metelkina % Parkman. In the short program to a modern version of Beethoven‘s Moonlight Sonata, Safina fell on the triple Salchow, but the other elements were clean or good. Berulava commented, “We got a phone call on January 9th saying we have to replace the other team, so we did. Maxim (Trankov) helped us with the skating, the lifts, taught me the death spiral. We are very grateful to him.“
In their free program to “In This Shirt“ by the British music group The Irrepressibles they moved up from sixth to fourth place. After two problems on the individual jumps the other nine elements were impressive with GOEs of mainly +2 and +3 and the components around 7.5. Safina said: “We are overwhelmed. I was so scared that I will not be able to do what I should. Even the things that didn’t work at all during the practices and the warm up worked - my triple Salchow.“ Berulava added: “We have some questions about the elements - the death spiral is level 1, we were aiming for level 4, so we don’t understand what do we have to do.“
Rebecca Ghilardi & Filippo Ambrosini from Italy finished on fifth place with 178.90 points although she fell on the triple throw Lutz in the short program, popped the Salchow in the free and stepped out there on the triple throw loop. The other elements were mainly good. They are qualified for Beijing. Ioulia Chtchetinina & Mark Magyar from Hungary, who are nominated for the Olympic Games, landed on sixth place with 171.03 points. They had solid programs but big problems with their individual jumps. Sara Conti & Niccolo Macii from Italy came seventh with 168.90 points. They had no real mistakes, but their elements are not yet very impressive.
Minerva Hase & Nolan Seegert from Germany finished eighth, earning 168,75 points. The elegant team is officially qualified for the Olympic Games as Germany’s only pair. But they could not convince in Tallinn after she fell on the triple throw Salchow in the short program and they made three mistakes in the free. He said they felt too much pressure because they had the chance to finished fourth. The new Spanish team of Laura Barquero & Marco Zandron also made more mistakes than at the Nebelhorn Trophy where they qualified for the Games. During the warm up for the free, they crashed into the boards. He had injured his triceps in November. Bogdana Lukashevich & Alexander Stepanov came 10th with 161.76 points of the 21 pairs who competed. The two French pairs finished only 14th and 17th.