by Klaus-Reinhold Kany
Mark Kondratiuk Takes European Men's Title
© International Skating Union (ISU)
Mark Kondratiuk, 2022 European Men's Champion
(15 January 2022) The menís competition at the 2022 European Championships had a good level, but nobody was really outstanding. 33 men competed, 24 of whom reached the final.
The new Russian Champion Mark Kondratiuk, only 18 years old and student of Svetlana Sokolovskaia in Moscow, is now also the new European Champion with 286.56 points. His first big success came when he won the third Olympic spot for Russia at the Nebelhorn Trophy in September 2021. Until a year ago he was quite unknown internationally because he could not take part in any Junior Grand Prix 2020 nor Junior Worlds 2021 because everything for the Juniors had been cancelled due to Covid-19. You may call him one of the "Young and Wild Guys" because he is very energetic and emotional, but sometimes a bit sloppy and still a bit junior-like. He is also a hobby painter and graphic artist and took part in art exhibitions. He had been nominated for Beijing after Russian Nationals. If the three Japanese skaters and Nathan Chan are in very good shape at the Olympic Games, Kondratiuk will probably not win a medal but may be in the top six.
In Tallinn, Kondratiuk opened the short program to the soundtrack of the Turkish soap opera "Kosem - Magnificent Century" with an excellent quad toe loop, followed by a very good triple Axel. His combination of quad Salchow and triple toe loop was good, the spins as well and the step sequence very expressive. His components were around 8.5. He commented, "Today I was not too nervous, I can even say confident. I trained well here and I woke up this morning with the thought, today I am confident, Today I just tried to go out like for any other competition not thinking about this being the European Championship. 99 points are my career-best score for the Short Program." He was second overnight with a difference of .02 points to the third place.
His first element in the emotional free program to the Hippie rock opera "Jesus Christ Superstar" by Andrew Lloyd Webber was a quad toe loop, a bit shaky but landed on one foot. The first triple Axel was good, the second with double toe loop not clean. Later he did a sequence of quad Salchow, Euler and triple Salchow, a second quad Salchow plus three more triples, good spins and very good step sequences. His components were around 9.0. He commented, "I am happy with the elements I did but am not very happy with my skating, I wanted to show more emotions. As for being competitive I guess I have to upgrade the difficulty."
Daniel Grassl from Italy won the silver medal with 274.48 points and is another candidate for top 6 oder top 8 at the Olympics. He had been only fifth in the short program to the soundtrack of "Nureev Ė the White Crow" because there he always performs only one quad. In Tallinn, his clean quad Lutz got a small warning (!) for the wrong edge and therefore did not have many plus-points. In the combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop, the same happened with the triple Lutz. The triple Axel was good, the three spins excellent and innovative and the step sequence (level 3) was very good. The components were around 8.4. He commented, "Iím very happy to be back to Tallinn two years after being fourth at Junior Worlds. Iím satisfied with how I skated. But Iím not so satisfied with how they judge my jumps, because I donít feel I have problems with the Lutz."
His free program to "Interstellar" and to the soundtrack of "Armageddon" began with another quad Lutz, this time without a (!), but a bit shaky. The quad flip was good, as well as the sequence of quad loop, Euler and triple Salchow. But none of his quads is really majestic. Later he performed five more triples (the last Lutz with a touchdown), excellent spins and good steps. His components were around 8.2. Later he said, "Iím very happy for the medal because after the fourth place in Graz (2020 European Championships) I was very disappointed it was 1.5 points from the second and I was very pressured for these Euros because I knew I could go for the podium. But I know I can skate much better - the component side was not like I do at the practice. I can do much more."
Deniss Vasiljevs from Latvia, who trains in Switzerland with Stephane Lambiel, won the bronze medal with 272.08 points. He performed an almost clean short program to "Sarakiz" by Karl Jenkins and to "The Battle Drum" by Joe Hisaishi with a triple flip (which got a small edge warning (!)), a very good triple Axel and an excellent combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop. His spins were stellar and his step sequence absolutely outstanding (with three GOEs of +5). His components were around 8.7. He opened his free program to "Romeo and Juliet" by Sergei Prokofiev with a quad Salchow which got a q for nearly under-rotated. This was one of very few competitions where he tried a quad. Eight mainly very good triples came later, including two triple Axels. Spins and steps were outstanding and his components around 8.9.
He explained, "It was really incredible to feel all this energy and exchanging the passion for the sport and art we are all here to see. Thank you very much for the support and the love. I really feel I gave 100% and thatís my biggest focus right now not so much on the medal. I think itís a milestone in my journey that I donít know where it leads."
Andrew Mozalev from St. Petersburg in Russia finished on fourth place with 265.69 points. He was alternate for Mikhail Kolyada who had strained a ligament in his foot a bit the week before. He wanted to get it healed before the Olympic Games for which he is nominated and might finish there in the top six. Mozalev won the short program with 99.76 points. His combination of quad toe loop and triple toe loop was excellent, his quad Salchow not ideal, his triple axel good, the four other elements excellent and the components around 8.6. "I learnt about my participation only on Sunday, we had to fly to Tallinn on Monday. Being in first after the short was adding pressure," he said. "I was nervous. I would love to take the mistake on the Salchow back if I could. Not all is lost yet, my life goes on."
The first element in MozalevĎs free program was a very good combination of quad toe loop and triple toe loop, followed by a Salchow which was planned quadruple, but popped and finished as a downgraded triple Salchow. Later he performed another quad toe loop and five triples, among them two triple Axels (not clean) and a triple Salchow which did not count because he had repeated two jumps before and more are not allowed.
Evgeni Semenenko from Russia came fifth with 260.00 points. His short program was faultless with an excellent combination of quad toe loop and triple toe loop, a good quad Salchow and an outstanding triple Axel. But in the free, he popped a Salchow, stepped out of the second quad toe loop (after having a good first one) and added only a double instead of a triple toe loop in two combinations. Russia has to decide if to send Mozalev or Semenenko to Beijing as their third skater. Morisi Kvitelashvili from Georgia came sixth with 253.91 points. His short program was flawless with two quads, but his components were lower than those of the top skaters. In the free, he fell on the quad Salchow but later had two quad toe loops in his program. He hopes to finish the Olympic Games in the top ten. Georgia has a full team at the Games for the first time.
Kevin Aymoz from France took seventh place with 252.21 points. In the stylish short to "The Question of U" by Prince, he almost fell on the quad Salchow and on the quad toe loop. In the free he stepped out of the first quad toe loop, but the second one and the rest of the program were very convincing and he got high components. France will sent Aymoz and Adam Siao Him Fa to the Games.
Vladimir Litvintsev from Azerbaijan finished eighth with 244.70 points. Gabriele Frangipani from Italy came ninth with 238.95 points and secured Italy a third spot for next yearís Europeans together with Grassl`s second place.
Michal Brezina ended up tenth with 238.38 points in the last of his 14 European Championships. For the first time he decided not try a quad any more (because it almost never worked) and had the fifth best free program.
16-year-old Arlet Levandi from Estonia had an extraordinary choreography from French choreographer Benoit Richaud and finished 14th. Nikolaj Memola from Italy came as alternate for Matteo Rizzo who had withdrawn because he had to change his boots and needed two weeks of training before going to the Olympics.