2010 European Championships Ladies

by Alexandra Stevenson

Free Skating

Kostner recaptures form and her title but performance is not Olympic medal caliber;
Lepisto dethroned;
Gedevanishvili wins Georgiaís first ISU senior medal and goes skating with her countryís President outdoors!

1.Total Score 173.46 Carolina Kostner, Italy; 1.Free Skate 107.66 (49.22 Technical + 59.44 Components -1.0 for a fall). Kostner, 22, won back the title she claimed in 2007 and 2008, dethroning the reigning champion Laura Lepisto by a substantial 7.09 points. She was runnerup last year to Lepisto. However, Kostnerís performance was far from flawless. She gained only one Level 4 (for her flying sit spin which earned nothing over the base value) and only one triple (the Lutz) earned its base value. She received nothing over the base for that triple Lutz and her only other jumping pass to gain its base value or better was the double Axel to double toe which was good enough to bank a full extra point. The other jumps were flawed. Skating 18th of the 20 allowed into the final (reduced by 4 from last year) dressed in a sleeveless blue creation with silver adornment, Kostner performed to a graceful Air by Bach and cello music by Vivaldi. She opened with a -0.60 triple flip to triple toe combo. That flip was given a warning exclamation mark for short wrong edge into the take-off. Later she singled her second flip and fell on a triple loop. Her last jumping pass, triple Salchow to double toe, was saddled with -0.60 GoE. She earned only the third highest technical score behind Elena Gedevanishvilli and Sarah Meier but she had the highest components.

"My first emotion," Kostner confessed, "was that I felt a little angry, that I popped the flip. The mistake threw me a little off. But in general Iím very pleased. I feel that Iím on the right way and this result here gives me confidence. A lot of water went down the rivers since the last Olympic Games" (where she finished 9th.) "I basically want to find the performance for myself that I see in my head. Today the free skating was a little nerve-wrecking, but this competition felt like a liberation for me and I enjoyed skating." Because she had been dethroned in this seasonís Italian championship, her association agreed that the one Olympic berth would go to whoever did better in this event, Kostner or the current national champion, Valentina Marchei. Kostner said that the meaning of this third European title, "is same as for the other two, but it was the hardest one for me to win. Sometimes you forget how difficult it is to skate for the audience and the media and in front of the judges. It was a really good training for my head. I think I did it well. I think I have nothing to fear from Vancouver. Now I go back to California. The life of an athlete is always the same. You get up, you train, you rest, you train, you go to bed. So itís not much different training in America or training in Europe. But I feel very comfortable with my strong practice group in the US (training under Christa Fassi and Frank Carroll).

2.TS 166.37 Laura Lepisto, Finland; 3.FS 103.41 (44.21+59.20) Last year the 21-year-old became the first Finnish singles skater to win the European championship. This year she wasnít even close. Skating a Tango routine to the well-known, Adios Nonino and Fuga y Misterio, she received only the ninth highest technical score for her FS but was second on the components just 0.24 behind Kostner. She began with an excellent combination of two triple toe loops which earned +1.80 over the moveís base value of 8.0 points. But then she doubled a so-so Lutz (+0.20) and executed a double loop to double toe loop which received only the base value. Both double Axels were saddled with substantial negatives (-1.44 and -1.96), her triple loop was downgraded, and her final jumping pass, a triple Salchow to double toe had a full point removed from its base value. But, she earned a Level 4 for her flying sit with +0.70 added. Her two other spins, spirals and circular steps were Level 3 with GoEs rising from +0.50 for the final change foot combo, to 0.60 for both the steps and the spirals, and a very good +1.10 for the layback for which the judging panel punched in two maximums of +3, two +1s and the rest +2s. "The routine started very well," she said. "I felt good and comfortable. But then came some double jumps and stupid errors on the landings. It could have been better, but Iím genuinely happy with the silver medal. I was third in both SP and FS so I didnít expect to get silver with those performances. I didnít feel a lot of pressure. My main goal was to get a spot for the Olympic Games and Iím very happy about that." She is the current Finnish Champion. The silver was her third medal at Europeans after the bronze in 2008 and the gold in 2009. "I enjoyed skating here," she said. "Last year skating at home in Helsinki was great. This wasnít far from Helsinki (a three-hour ferry ride) and there were many Finnish fans in the audience. I can skate much better than today and I hope to do that in Vancouver."

3.TS 164.68 Elene Gedevanishvili, Georgia; 2.FS 103.72 (50.20+53.52) Gedevanishvili won her first Junior Grand Prix here in Tallinn and so was delighted to come back. As she grew into an adult, the now 20-year-old struggled with weight gain and a womanly figure. Here she skated as well as she is able, jumping up from fourth after the SP, to

claim the bronze medal with a second-ranked Free Skate that gave Georgia its first ever ISU senior level medal. Her technical marks were the highest, with Sarah Meierís second in this category. Skating to Carmen, dress in red and gold with a back cut-out, she stepped out of her opening move, a triple Lutz and was penalized with a full two points removed from its base value of 6.0. But then she accomplished a three jump combination of two triple toe loops and a double toe loop which netted her +0.20 over its base value of 9.3. Her planned first triple Salchow didnít get more than two rotations and the landing was a mess, but she did a spiral into her double Axel to double toe netting +0.40 over the base value. Her flying camel combination spin was Level 3 and +0.40 but her flying sit spin was only Level 2 and +0.2. At the point where the 10% bonus marks for jumps click in, she executed a triple Salchow and another double Axel to double toe, which both earned +0.20 over the base value plus 10%. Her straight line steps were very energetic, earning a full half point over the base value but were called only Level 2. The spirals also got an extra half point and were Level 3. Her third double Axel earned +0.60 over the base level and her final move was a Level 4 change foot combo with +0.10. "Oh my God!," she exclaimed. "This (the medal) is totally unexpected. It means a lot to me. I was very well prepared and I will carry this feeling to the Olympic Games. Itís a pity I didnít do the first triple Salchow but I am very proud now. I have always wanted to skate to Carmen since I saw film of (two-time Olympic Champion) Katarina Witt skate to this music in the 1988 Olympics. This music really fits my personality." What happened last year when she was 25th? "A lot of things have changed since then. I was very unhappy with my performance then. Then I went to Junior Worlds and I did well, especially in the short program. It really inspired me. I changed coaches and I have been working with Robin (Wagner) since the last Europeans." She performed first in the last group of five. "I like that spot. I was thrilled that the Georgian President (Mikheil Saakashvili) watched the Short Program. He called me and we skated on the outdoor ice rink in the old town. He is a pretty good skater." The President was in Tallinn on other business but he took time out to meet both Gedevanishvilli and the ice dancers, Allison Reed and Otar Japaridze, who were 19th. Coach Wagner was thrilled for Elena but was very worried about the state of her blades because she didnít know the state of that ice and this was just before the SP, but, fortunately, nothing untoward happened. Elenaís younger brother, Dmitri, is a competitive alpine skier who also hopes to make the Olympic team.

4.TS 163.68 Kiira Korpi, Finland; 5.FS 99.42 (43.38+57.04 -1.0 for a fall)

Skating last, the 21 year old Korpi skated a routine to two pieces by Kerkko Kostkinen, Crooked Room and Passenger to Copenhagen, in a sleeveless blue and black outfit. She had been second after the SP. She began with a flawed triple Lutz to double toe which had -0.60 removed from the base value of 7.30. But then she soared through a triple Salchow to double Axel sequence which gained a full point over its base value of 6.4. She put her hand down landing her triple flip and lost a full point off its base value. She got base value for her triple loop. She said, "Then I lost strength and I had to fight for the rest of the program." She doubled her second loop and didnít do the other jumps in which was meant to be a three-jump combo. The she fell on a downgraded triple toe. Her last jumping pass was a double Axel to double toe in which both jumps were downgraded. She gained Level 4 for two of her spins but the flying sit and her spirals were only Level 2. The straight line steps towards the end of the four minutes gained Level 3. Last yearís bronze medalist, who was 16th in the last Olympics, said, "I am 4 four years older than I was in Torino and I have more experience now. I improved in many levels. I can fight for the top ten, maybe even the top six if I do a short program like here and a better free skating." Korpi wowed the exhibition audience on Sunday performing to Beyonceís If I Were a Boy, dressed as a police person stripping off her uniform to reveal a black sexy outfit,

5.TS 157.44 Sarah Meier, Switzerland; 4.FS 102.58 (49.46+53.12) Meier, who was runner-up for this title in 2007 and 2008, was very disappointed with her marks. The 25-year-old did not compete last season and the beginning of this one because of Archilles Tendon inflammation. The very elegant skater, who performed her FS in white to Prokofievís Romeo and Juliet, was lying eighth after the SP. Sounding very downbeat, she said, "I am realistic. I knew I wasnít going to move up a lot skating in the second to last group, but I wanted to fight for my Olympic qualification. I needed 154 points and I got that. I actually found my motivation again only in the last moment. I felt that itís worth fighting at least for the Olympic qualification and that I shouldnít give up. The missed practice time while I was injured didnít affect me, but the lack of competition did. My training has been going well. Iím now pain-free, which I wasnít for a long time. I want to make my program more difficult. I want to include the triple loop and another jump sequence." She began with an excellent triple Lutz to double toe to double loop which earned +0.40 over its base level of 8.80 but then her triple flip got an "e" for wrong edge takeoff. "You know, my double flip is certainly from the correct edge but when I was taught the triple flip, I used the same technique as Joubert. That, of course, was years ago. It is VERY difficult to go back to start over, to unlearn out technique to substitute another and Iíve had difficulty with that." A double Axel to double toe earned its base value of 4.8 but she staggered on her second triple Lutz which was saddled with -2 points taken off the base value score. She double her first attempt at a triple Salchow and her second triple Salchow to double toe also lost two full points. Her change foot combination spin and spirals were Level 4 with +0.60 and +1.0 respectively but her straight line steps were only Level 2 with +0.40. She ended with two spins. Her flying camel and layback were both Level 3 and had +0.60 and +0.70 added to their base values.

6.TS 156.77 Julia Sebestyen, Hungary; 6.FS 99.33 (46.61+52.72) Sebestyen, who is now 28, has been competing in this event since 1995. This is her 14th Europeans, a remarkable achievement. She won the title in 2004. She said, "I am happy with my performance. I did better than yesterday. I felt good on the ice and I tried to fight till the end. The moment before the performance when I heard my name I thought, ĎOh, my God! This is my last European Championship.í But then I forgot about it and concentrated on the performance. I am not very sad about the fact that this is my last Europeans, because I participated in international competitions for a long time already. But itís hard to think that it is almost the end." She skated to a selection of pieces by Raul di Blasio. She began with a +1.0 double Axel but then doubled her Lutz, although she was able to pull off a good +1.40 triple Lutz when the bonus marks click in. Her high triple flip earned its base value but was given a warning exclamation mark for a short wrong edge take-off. But then, she also doubled instead of tripled her Salchow. At the end of the routine she brought off a good triple toe to double toe which earned its base value. Her flying camel spin was a base value Level 3, the flying combination spins was Level 4 and earned +0.10 over the base value and the final spin was Level 3 and earned a small +0.20 over the base value. Her straight line steps were Level 2 with +0.40.

7.TS 153.57 Alena Leonova, Russia; 7.FS 95.31(41.43+54.88 -1.0) The 19-year-old current world junior champions, who made it into this seasonís senior Grand Prix Final, was not on form. She began her routine, set to pieces from the musical Chicago, with a combination of two triple toe loops but the second one was messy and downgraded and the following spiral sequence only Level 1. Then she fell on her triple Lutz which was also downgraded. Her double Axel was a good +0.80 and her flying combo spin was Level 4 with +0.30. Her triple loop was completed but she had to strong handle the landing with a deep edge and was given a -0.60 GoE. She doubled her intended triple flip sequence with a double Axel. The second jump in her triple Salchow to double toe to double loop was downgraded. And her final jumping pass was a single flip. Her flying sit earned base value for Level 3 and her last element, the change foot combo spin was Level 4 with +0.10. She was too upset to talk but her coach, Alla Piatova, said, "I donīt know exactly why she skated poorly, but I could see that her feet were heavy. There was no lightness and she lost speed and made mistakes. During the training sessions and the warm-up she was ok. Perhaps, she felt the responsibility she had at this competition and concentrated too much on getting a good result."

8.TS 149.46 Valentina Marchei, Italy; 8.FS 94.12 (44.68+51.44 -2.0). The 23-year-old, skating to Requiem for a Dream, fell on her opening jump, a triple Lutz and then again later in the routine on a downgraded triple Salchow. She said, "I was confident and good in practices. I wasnít good in the competition, but it wasnít a disaster. There was more pressure out there. I am happy because I was fighting until the end. It is not what I expected. The second fall didnít hurt very much. I wanted to skate two clean programs. I didnít want to miss any competition this season." She lost last season due to injury.

9.TS 146.85 Ksenia Makarova, Russia; 9.FS 88.83 (45.75+44.08 -1.0) The 17 year old skated to music from The 13th Warrior. She said, "I was extremely glad when I found out that I will go to the European Championships and I couldnít wait for that moment. I am very happy to be here. I felt a lot of responsibility to skate in a competition of such a high level. I slept well last night, but I still was more nervous than at nationals. I was able to watching the Menís competition and I liked Plushenko best. When he came on the ice, I knew at once that he will win. The look on his face showed his confidence. I would love to have come out with a look like this. Maybe I will ask him today how to get it." She opened her routine with a combination of two triple toe loops, but the second one was downgraded, as were her triple flip on which she fell, and triple loop. Later she executed two triple Salchows. The first, combined with a double toe and double loop, was saddled with a Goe of -0.60. The second one, combined with a double toe, earned its base value. She earned Level 4 for two of her spins and her spirals. The layback spin was Level 3 and her straight line steps Level 2.

10.TS 138.93 Elena Glebova, Estonia; 10.FS 88.83 (45.75+44.08 -1.0) The popular 20-year-old hometown girl skated to Capriccio Espagnol. "I skated well today, just made a small mistake in the beginning (almost collapsing on her triple loop), but I corrected it in the end. I am very glad that I had this opportunity to perform at home at such a big competition, and I am very happy that Iíll skate again in the gala tomorrow. We have here great audiences. I felt a lot of support. Today, I was very calm. I was even surprised about it. As my result in the short program wasnít so good (she was 13th), I didnít feel pressure today. I just showed what I am able to do. On Monday Iíll have a day off, and Iíll start preparing to the Olympic Games on Tuesday. Glebova fell on his first move, a triple loop, but earned the base value of a double Axel and triple Salchow to two double toe loops. The second jump in her combination of two triple toe loops was downgraded. She also accomplished a second triple Salchow which earned its base level. Her spirals were Level 3 with +0.30 but two of her spins were Level 2 and the last only Level 1. Two of them earned their base value but the flying sit got +0.10 as did her Level 3 straight line steps.

11.TS 137.10 Viktoria Helgesson, Sweden; 12.FS 86.24 (42.96+43.28) The 21-year-old blonde twice Swedish champion skated to One Moment in Time presented only two unflawed triple jumps, a triple loop to double toe which earned just its base value and a triple Salchow which was awarded +0.40. However, she didnít fall.

12.TS 136.42 Tugba Karademir, Turkey; 13.FS 82.54 (35.74+46.80) The personable 24-year-old Canadian resident always looks happy to be on the ice. This year she skated to Tango of the Exiles. She was 21st in the Olympic Games in Torino and looks forward to bettering that standing. She said, "I didnít have big mental problems. I went for all my jumps, but I didnít land them well. I left about 20 points on the table because of poor landings and lost combinations. All in all it is a good experience before the Olympics. It is better that the mistakes happened now. I still have a month to prepare. Competing so close to the Games is more of a problem for the competitors who skate at the Four Continents Championships (taking place the week after the European event). Canada is almost my home country. It is familiar and I feel comfortable. Last time (in 2006) I didnít feel as if I belonged at the Games. I was so surprised to be entered. No Turk had ever been in the Olympic figure skating event. Everybody at home was looking on me with pride but, of course, that put enormous pressure on me. I finished 21st. Now, with all my experience, I know that I belong with the best and I feel better mentally." Her first move a triple Salchow to double toe was acknowledged as completing the full rotation but her triple Lutz, triple toe and triple Salchow were downgraded.

13.TS 135.39 Oksana Gozeva, Russia; 11.FS 88.13 (45.17+42.96) skated to a Piano Concerto by Saint-Preux. Gozeva, 20, pulled up a place from after the SP.

14.TS 128.06 Jenna McCorkell, GB; 17.FS 74.26 (31.06+43.20) Some sort of bug, which had prevented the seven time British champion from training, returned during the event and she was coughing up mucus. Although she opened with a +0.60 double Axel, her two triple flips were called as underrotated and she struggled to hold the landing of the triple toe loop. None of her elements earned Level 4 and the Layback was Level 1. She dropped from 11th after the SP. The 23-year-old said, "I feel dead. It was hard today. The free skating has more elements, jumps and it is a problem after not training for so long. I have to work on it before Olympics. Now I have to concentrate on getting better and 100% healthy. It wasnít my best day today." She is married to Kevin van der Perren who was 9th in the last Olympics and will also be competing in Vancouver. This will be McCorkellís first Olympics so she is looking for tips from her husband. "Heíll leave for Vancouver a few days before me because his event is before mine. Iíll have a little more time to recover and heíll be able to help me through my event." She skated to violin music.

Short Program

Former world silver medalist Carolina Kostner from Italy recaptures past form to grasp the lead by 1.54 points;

Kiira Korpi, the first Finnish singles skater ever to medal (bronze) in an ISU championship (2007 Europeans), is second, 1.30 points ahead of defending European champion and Finnish titleholder Laura Lepisto, who lies third;

Last yearís European bronze medalist, Susanna Poykio, also from Finland, singled her Axel and doubled her flip. She pulled out citing lower back pain after placing 18th of the 41 competitors from 33 countries.

1.65.80 (36.00 Elements + 29.80 Components) Carolina Kostner of Italy washed the ashes of last yearís sobering defeats out of her hair, rebounding with a sparkling, elegant showing to a Chopin Nocturne and Tchaikovskyís graceful violin concerto. Kostner, who will turn 23 in March, won the 2008 world silver medal and was the 2007 and 2008 European champion. But she lost her European title to Laura Lepisto last year and plunged to 12th in the World championship in March with a nightmare Free program in which she singled jumps. Hoping to turn her descent around, she came to California and began training with Frank Carroll but earlier this season she was still struggling, placing only sixth in both her Grand Prix events. She explained, "I went to California because I was looking for new ideas, new motivation, new inspiration. I found a really nice place, the best place for me. My practice group is very strong. We have fun together, but we work very hard and this gives me confidence and energy."

With coach Christa Fassi providing support at the boards here and dressed in a sleeveless red creation with a black trim on the bottom of the skirt, Kostner soared into a triple flip to double toe which had huge air time and distance and earned +1.20 over the base value of 6.80. She previously had been making both jumps triples. Her triple Lutz received +0.40 over its base value of 0.40. She explained, "It was a challenge for me personally to do the Lutz instead of the toeloop but it was needed." Her spirals were +0.40 and Level 3 with one judge giving the maximum +3 and six of the other judges punching in +2. (The other two contented themselves with +1s). Her double Axel, which has been her weakest jump, gained a satisfying +1.0 over its base value of 3.5. Although the flying sit spin was only Level 1 and nothing was added to the base value of 2.0, she said, "I am very happy, because I was able to do what I wanted to do. Each week I made a step forward in my training. I had lot of fun today, and when I have fun, I skate well." Her layback spin was Level 3 with +0.40. Her circular steps were very well received. The Technical Specialist, Claudia Unger and her assistant, Olga Baranova, awarded Level 3 with one judge giving +3, seven +2 and the remaining official +1. Her final move was a Level 4 combination spin which earned +0.40 over its base value of 3.50. Her score was her seasonís best. Costner said, "I have a good Free program to present tomorrow and Iím looking forward to sharing with the audience my joy and passion for skating." Italy will pick its Olympic representative on the basis of this event, as will Finland. Kostner said, "I didnít think so much about qualifying for the Olympic Games. I just enjoyed skating here. If I can share my skating with so many people, Iím happy. Sports make you explore your limits. Both Valentina (Marchei, who was also in the running for the one Olympic berth) and I share the love for skating and the same dreams. I went back to the USA after Italian Nationals to be able to train following my usual rhythm.

2. 64.26 (36.50+27.76) Kiira Korpi, who lost her national title this season to Lepisto, her teammate, said, "Of course I was very happy to skate not only my seasonís best but also my personal best today. Iím really satisfied with my performance and I donít think I could have done any better." Skating first in the final group of six, to Ikuko Kawaiís Caravan, she gained +0.60 over the base value of 7.30 for her solid triple Lutz to double toe, and a full point was added to her triple loopís base value of 5.0. Her layback spin was "called" as only Level 2 but earned 0.70 over its base value of 1.90. Both her double Axel and Level 4 spirals were rewarded with a full point over their respective base values of 3.50 and 3.40 by the panel of judges. Her other two spins, the flying sit and her change foot combination, were deemed the maximum Level 4 by the two Specialists with the judges collectively adding +0.30 and +0.60 to their respective base values of 3.0 and 3.5. Her straight line steps were Level 3 and earned 0.40 over the base value.

The blond 21-year-old from Tampere talked about the upcoming Winter Games. This is her sixth European championships but her bronze in 2007 has been her only medal. "Last summer, we had a national team camp in Vancouver as a special preparation for the Olympics, but apart from that it has been like any other season. We have only two spots for the Olympics but three Ladies to fight for it. So there is a lot of pressure on me. Right now Iím just focusing on finishing this competition and then weíll see. I must admit that I was a bit nervous, especially in the beginning of the week. It is not only the fight for the European medals but also the fight for the Olympic spots, but now I got off a good start. Last season was very, very difficult for me. I had health problems and I could do only three competitions. It was mentally hard to go into my home competition (Europeans 2009 in Helsinki) knowing that Iím not in my best shape. Now, I improved a lot. My summer training and the beginning of the season were good and so I built confidence. I am happy to be back."

3. 62.96 (34.60 +34.60) Laura LepistŲ, who is also 21, skated last, to Karl Jenkinsí Imagined Oceans, said, "I stumbled in the step sequence, but it didnít affect me a lot. I felt very good and confident but I felt more pressure than usual. The pressure started when I was still at home. Coming here, Iíve been more relaxed and now it feels like any other competition. After this, Iíll take a few days off, because I have to change my boots, because the heel of my left boot is moving. It wonít last any longer. I try not to think about it because adjusting to new boots is hard. The level of skating is very high this year. I have a new Free Skating, and I really like it. It helps that Iíve been able to train it very hard. Iím going to enjoy it and Iíll stay focused."

Only a few competitors tried a combination of two triples. Lepisto, whose hometown is Espoo, was one of them. She completed the rotation on both toe loops but put her hand down on the landing of the second jump and received a slight negative, -0.40, off the base value of 8.0. Her triple loop received the basic base value of 5.0 but her Level 4 flying sit and her Level 3 layback spin earned an extra +0.60 and +0.80 over their respective base values of 3.0 and 2.4. Her double Axel was also given an extra 0.80. Her spirals were Level 2 with +0.50. She admitted she stumbled at the beginning of the Level 3 straight line steps but still got half a point added to the base value of 3.30. Her final combination spin, called as Level 4, was rewarded with 0.80 GoE. "I was more nervous at home than now, " she explained. "Coming here, I felt comfortable and relaxed. The level of competition is very high this year. I have a new Free Skating, and I really like it. It helps that Iíve been able to train it very hard. Iím going to enjoy it and Iíll stay focused."

4. 60.82 (33.70+27.12) Elene Gedevanishvili, skated before the President of the country in which she was born and still represents, Georgia, who, by coincidence, was visiting Tallinn. She is a long-time resident in New Jersey who trains with Robin Wagner in Hackensack. After she had performed, she accepted a huge basket of flowers from him. Gedevanishvili, who turned 20 on January 7, is taking part in her fifth European championship. She was 5th in her debut in Europeans in 2006, but last year was 25th, failing to get into the final round. Her performance here, set to You Give Me Fever, showed she is on her way back. She began with a triple Lutz and, although it had a GoE of -0.40, that was her only negative. She admitted, "I could skate better because I did triple toe to double toe instead of triple-triple but everything else was good. I did a seasonís best so I am pretty happy. Here at Europeans my goal is to enjoy it since I am really solid and on the way to Olympics. I won my Junior Grand Prix here (in 2005) so it is a really lucky place for me. And my best friend among the skaters is Elena Glebova and she is also from here. It was a pressure knowing that the president of my country is here watching and I was pretty nervous but I handled that well." Her combination earned +0.60. Her layback spin was Level 2 with +0.80; the spirals Level 3 with +0.60; the double Axel and Level 4 combo spin both gained +0.80. The judges considered her lively, emotional outpouring of feeling in her Level 3 straight line steps very appropriate for the music and two awarded her the maximum +3. All but one of the other judges gave her +2. The exception punched in +1. That meant a full point was added to the base value of this element. She finished the well-received routine with a Level 3, +0.30 flying sit spin.

5.58. 26 (32.10+27.16 -1.0) Alena Leonova, the Russian current world junior champion, said, "I am basically satisfied with my skating. It is bad that I fell (on the second jump of her first element, the combination of two triple toe loops) but the competition doesnít finish till tomorrow." She had previously performed a triple Lutz to double toe for her combination and was asked why that changed. "The Lutz wasnít going well in practice at home in St. Petersburg. I realized while training here that the competition is tough since everyone was jumping better than they did before, so I even got a little scared." She has changed her outfit to one in red from one which reflected the colors in the Russian flag, chosen because she was performing to Barynia which is Russian folk music. "Everyone told me it was a little too patriotic and did not fit music so well so we changed it." Her spirals were called as only Level 1 but her other Levels were all 3 except for a 4 for the combination spin. Her triple flip earned a full point over its base value as did her double Axel. The spins earned +0.70 for the flying sit, +0.40 for the layback, and +0.40 for the change foot combination. Her straight line steps got an extra +0.30.

6. 57.44 (31.20 + 26.24) Julia Sebestyen of Hungary who won the 2004 European title, said, "Iím very happy. I wanted to do a clean short program. It was my dream to skate a good short program at the Europeans. I donít care about the marks. I just wanted to show what I can do. This will be my 4th Olympics, I want to enjoy the event and just do my best." Sebestyen, who will turn 29 in May, has been competing the European championships since 1995. "It is not usual these days to compete this long but it is hard to be always on top. It is my last season." Sebestyen, who skated to Song from a Secret Garden and LiberTango began with a very high triple Lutz to double toe which earned +0.60. But her triple flip was a warning exclamation for wrong edge takeoff and the judges saddled it minus 0.40. The double Axel earned +0.30 over its base value. Two spins, the flying camel and the change foot combo, were the maximum with, respectively +0.30 and +0.50 GoEs. Level 4. Both the base value Layback spin and the +0.50 circular steps were only Level 2.

7. 55.34 (32.30 +23.04) Valentina Marchei is the current Italian champion, a title she also won in 2004 and 2006. She explained, "For two years, I havenít been able to compete at Europeanís due to injury. I am so glad to be back, I didnít think much about qualifying for the Olympic Games today. I started practicing again in April last year after a long break, and now I just enjoy being able to skate again. Winning the Italian Nationals was just one step in improving at every competition during this season, and of course I gained more and more confidence. But the earth is still turning, no matter if I can compete at the Olympic Games or not, having pleasure in pinskating is more important." Marchei, who will turn 24 on May 23, is now training with Nicolai Morosov in Haackensack, NJ. She skated to Jules Massenetís ethereal Meditation by Thais, dressed in white. She began with a triple Lutz to double toe which earned +0.80 above its base value of 7.30 followed by a +0.60 double Axel. But her triple Salchow was flawed and -0.60 was taken off the base value. Her only Level 4 was for the change foot combo. The layback spin, which she did as her final element was Level 2 with +0.40. The other three moves for which Levels are earned, got 3 with the flying sit spin earning just its base value, the spirals getting +0.60 over the base and the circular steps earning +0.50 over the base value.

8. 54.86 (28.22 + 26.64) Sarah Meier of Switzerland won silver in this event in 2007 & 2008. Skating to a samba and Brazilliance, both by Steve Steven, she opened with a triple Lutz to double toe which has a base value of 7.30 but it was given a small -0.18 negative GoE and the first jump was downgraded. That meant, instead of getting 7.12 points, she only received 3.02. That was followed a +0.20 triple Salchow. Her Level 4 change foot combination spin came next and earned +0.70 over the base value. Her spirals were Level 3 and +0.50. Her double Axel earned the base value but nothing more. Her Level 3 flying camel got +0.50 over base as did her Level 2 straight line steps. Her final move, Level 3 layback spin, was awarded +1 GoE from five judges while three gave +2s. The remaining judge was so impressed, he/she punched in the maximum of +3. Her component marks were the sixth highest. Meier, who will be 25 on May 4, said, "Iím quite satisfied with my skating, but I was very, very nervous. Iíve been able to do all my jumps, but maybe not quite as good as usual. Of course, Iím disappointed with the scores, but there is nothing I can do about it. I donít understand why the triple Lutz was downgraded to a double. After missing all the Grand Prix competitions, I was quite proud that I have been able to skate so well without having the competition experience. After my injury, Iíve started practicing again in December, since then, Iíve been skating with full power."

9. 54.06 (30.82 + 23.24) Ksenia Makarova from Newburgh, New York State, who won the Russian senior title in her first try after being fifth in the Russian Juniors last season, is a very graceful blonde, the daughter of the 1984 Olympic pair bronze medals, Larisa Seleznyeva and Oleg Makarov, who represented the Soviet Union. The family moved from St. Petersburg to the United States when Ksenia was 8. She turned 17 on December 20 and is currently training in Wayne, NJ, alongside Johnny Weir. Skating to music from the soundtrack of Ladies in Lavender, she opened the routine with a bang with a combination of two triple toe loops which earned +0.40 over their base level of 8.40. Two of her three spins and the spirals were Level 4. The spirals earned a full point over their base level. The change foot combination spin received +0.80 GoE but the flying sit had a very small deduction of -0.08. Her double Axel earned the base value. Her straight line steps were Level 3 and earned half a point over the base value. Her final element, the layback spin was Level 2 and +0.90. She said, "I wasnít nervous. I felt normal. When Iím getting nervous, itís not good! My father is here with me, and that helps me a lot. Iím quite happy, but I made a mistake (doubling the flip). I thought too much about it. I shouldnít think about it, I need just to go for it and jump." The triple flip has a base value of 5.5 and she ended up with only 0.70. Tomorrow, I want to do better. My plan for tomorrow is to put out a clean skate with a smile." That definitely sounds like an American sentiment.

10. 53.88 (32.60+21.28) Tugba Karademir, who was born in Ankara, moved to Canada when she was 12 to advance her skating career. The 24 year-old has competed the the European championships eight times with a best place finish of 10th last season. She skated to Bazaar Istanbul. She said, "I am very happy with my performance, Iíve done my job. It is a step towards Vancouver. It gives me confidence so I know that with a program like this I can make it to the final Many people in Turkey have become aware of figure skating only because they saw her on television in the last Olympics. She explained, "Skating in Turkey is becoming more and more popular since we finally have an ice rink in Istanbul. They were talking about building it for 25 years and finally it has opened. We had a Junior Grand Prix competition there this season for the first time. There is now a second Turkish competitor, Birce Atabey. This is a great experience for her and sheís just 16. Iím proud of her." (She finished 30th) Karademir had no negative GoEs. She executed a triple Lutz to double toe, triple Salchow and double Axel which all earned their base value. Two of her spins got Level 4, the flying sit with +0.60 GoE and the change foot combo with +0.20. Her other Level moves all earned Level 3. The layback received an extra +0.30, the spirals an extra 0.50 and the straight line steps an extra 0.20.

11. 53.80 (31.00+22.80) Jenna McCorkell, the seven-time British champion, was ill before this event and then suffered a reoccurrence of the illness at this event. The 23 year old, who is married to Belgian menís competitor, Kevin van der Perren, explained, "I was never more relieved, when I got to the end of the routine. It was very difficult today. I was sick for one month, I just finished my antibiotics, but I started coughing again today and bringing up mucus. I was worried about my condition. I was confident about my elements and Iíll fight tomorrow. I am excited about the Olympic Games and relieved that my sickness happened before the European Championships, not before the Olympics. (On her husband Kevin van der Perren and her supporting each other) Weíre both in the same situation. We know what to say to each other, we know our limits." She skated to Totentanz (Dance of Death) by Franz Liszt.

12. 50.86 (29.70+26.90) Viktoria Helgesson, Sweden

13. 50.10 (26.90+23.20) Elena Glebova was delighted to be competing in her home town. She said, "I donít have to come with my suitcase, I have my own locker here (at the practice rink next door.) I come here like to a normal practice. The mood changed by itself when Iíve moved into the official hotel to be in the competition atmosphere. I think that I skated very clean. There were a few little mistakes, but nothing serious. I felt that today I jumped very high, I was really flying, I was even scared. Itís a strange feeling." She skated to East of Eden by Lee Holdridge. She tried a combination of two triple toes but the second jump was downgraded. That was her only negative. Her triple Salchow earned +0.80 and the double Axel got the base value. Her final spin, the layback, was only Level 1 but her spirals and the change foot combination spin were Level 3. The straight lines steps and flying sit spin were Level2.

18. 44.68 (19.80+24.88) Susanna PŲykiŲ of Finland, who was the bronze medalist in last yearís European championship, doubled her flip and singled her Axel. Her triple Lutz to double toe had a slight negative -0.20. The layback spin and her spirals were Level 1. The flying sit spin and straight line steps were Level 2. She finished with a Level 3 change foot combination spin. Asked what went wrong, she said, "There was not one reason. The whole season was difficult. It would get better, but then it somehow gets down again. My confidence is not as good as it should be. I think too much about how well I can do at practice. I have the same style, but because of the problems I had, I didnít have enough time to work on the choreography." Since her country were deciding which two Ladies would go to Vancouver out of their three entries here, Poykio was obviously very upset.

Return to title page