2012 European Championships: Ladies Final

By Alexandra Stevenson

After a Decade of Competitive Appearances in the European Championships, Sparkling Kostner Dominates, Winning her Fourth Title in the Past Six Years by 16.61 Points

1. Overall 183.55; Carolina Kostner 1.SP 63.22 (32.27+30.95); 1.FS 120.33 (56.29+64.04): The 24-year-old Kostner has competed in every Europeans since 2003, when she was fourth. She was 5th in 2004, then 7th in 2005. In 2006 she won bronze. Then, in 2007, she became the first Italian woman to claim the title, which she retained in 2008 and then won again in 2010. She was second in 2009 & 2011. Skating 27th of the 28 allowed into the SP, she presented a mature showing to the Allegretto from Trio #2 by Shostakovich, taking a small lead in both technical and component categories to progress into the FS 1.42 ahead of Kiira Korpi. Kostner opened with a combination of two triple toe loops, for which one judge punched in the maximum +3 GoE. Seven other judges awarded +2 and a solitary official gave +1. Her triple loop was OK but only received a minimal +0.20. Her flying camel spin was Level 4 and received +0.43 extra. Her double Axel gained an extra 0.79. The other two spins and her steps got Level 3 but while the layback spin and the circular steps earned extra, her combination spin had -0.34 removed. 

Kostner said, I was a little nervous when I approached the ice rink and saw the people. But, then I thought, ‘This is the 10th time I’m doing this! - Just enjoy it because you don’t know if next year you’ll still be here.‘ It helped me a lot to calm down, to just do what I do in practice, so I’m very pleased about how I did. After the Grand Prix Final (which she won in December), I didn’t do my nationals because it would have been too much. (She had entered three Grand Prix events, which is now an option for the world’s best skaters.) It was a little bit sad for me because I would have liked to skate for the Italian fans since there are not a lot of competitions in Italy, but I had to recover. I went home to spend time with my family around Christmas and I felt that my batteries were re-charged. After New Year’s I was able to start practicing again and concentrate on Europeans. I’m glad about how it went and felt quite confident. I was happy to finally start today after being here all week and waiting and waiting.”  

In the FS, which she performed 22nd of the 24 remaining competitors, she accomplished only five triples in a well thought out routine set to Mozart's Concerto # 23 for Piano and Orchestra. She  earned the base value or better for all her elements. However, to this observer, it looked as if she had momentarily slightly touched down with her free foot on the landing of her second jump, the triple flip, a situation which was reflected by three of the judges awarding her a -1. (But three other judges gave +1 and one +2 for this move.) She singled the third jump on her combo of triple Salchow to two double toes. Two of her spins were Level 4 and the steps Level 3 but her flying change foot spin was only Level 2.”  

She said, “I am very pleased with the whole week here. I had an awesome feeling on the ice just hearing the crowd cheer me on. The cheers and the happiness they were giving me helped me get to the end because my legs were getting so tired. It was amazing. I completely canceled the pressure out of my mind. In the previous three wins, I never had the chance to really enjoy it. This time I’m savoring the experience. I have done better performances this season but I’m happy. I’m pleased it’s all over and I can celebrate tonight. Each gold medal has a special place in my heart. It’s hard to compare them. Since I last won gold, I had a big down after the Olympics (in which she placed only 16th) and when I stepped on the podium tonight, it was a big relief and happiness that went through my whole body. I just kept the faith and thought of all the people who believed in me and helped me believe in myself. So it’s special. 

I’m really looking forward to spending a couple of days at home with friends. I celebrate my 25th birthday next week, then I’ll go back to training. I can’t believe that it’s not so far away that our season is coming to an end. I just do all I can to prepare. I watched Evgeni (Plushenko) on television and I admire his courage and consistency so much. I am sure that coming back from a time you don’t compete is never easy. Big congratulations to him! I don’t know if I’m going to skate at 29. 

2. Overall 166.94; Kiira Korpi 2.SP 61.80 (31.38+30.95); 4.FS 105.14 (46.28+58.86): Korpi, 23, skated a beautifully choreographed short program to Somewhere Over the Rainbow first in the last group of six. She accomplished a combination of two triple toe loops which earned an extra +0.70 but her triple loop got an arrow for slight under-rotation. Her double Axel was +0.71. Two of her spins were Level 4 and the layback and her steps Level 3. All four of these elements received good GoEs. She said, “I feel really good about my performance today. The season hasn’t been very optimal for me because I struggled with some injuries earlier this season and didn’t have the normal experience from the competitions. But I knew I was in good shape and the practices went well, so I just wanted to stay focused and enjoy the performance. I’m really happy how it worked out. After Finnish Nationals, I had some really good high quality practices, but, unfortunately, I also got a little injury and the flu, so I couldn’t practice as much as I was planning to. However, I got to do more work on the mental side. So, I felt confident and well prepared coming here despite my problems.  

However, the 23-year old, who won the European bronze medal in 2007 and last year, took herself out of contention for gold by executing an illegal third repeated triple in her Free which was set to Gershwin’s I Got Rhythm. Skaters may only repeat two types of triple jumps which must be in combination. Korpi did not begin well. Her opening combination of two triple toe loops had a full half point removed from the move’s base value of 8.2 points because she put her foot down while landing the second jump. The following triple Salchow lost -0.80 because her hand scrapped the ice and her double flip got an “e” call for wrong edge take-off. However, her flying sit spin was Level 4 and the choreographed spirals beautiful to watch. 

Her triple loop to double toe to double loop got an arrow on the first jump. Then came a +0.20 triple Salchow to double toe. However, her next jump got a wide-eyed response from those in the know! It was an illegal triple loop which, of course, was given no marks at all. Amazingly for such an experienced top level competitor, she confessed, “I didn't know about the rule which is why I was confused as to why the last triple didn't count. It was a stupid mistake which I must learn from.” She had listed her elements on a form given to the ISU, but no one had picked up on this error. It just seems incredible that someone in her association, or who had been watching the practices, didn’t catch the error and alert her to the unfortunate situation.  

If she had done, instead, a second double Axel in the second part of her program and earned the base value, she could have had 3.63 more points. But, although that would have increased her score, it would have changed nothing. She would still have been fourth in the Free and second overall. She said, “The beginning of the program was not so good but then I fought back and the rest of the program was better and I am satisfied with the result. I was very nervous waiting for the results. Now we have the Nordic Championships in Finland next week. Then I will go to Toronto. I really want to polish my programmes with Shae-Lynn Bourne, my choreographer. Then I’ll go back to Finland and hopefully stay healthy and prepare for Worlds and obviously I need to made changes to my long program. At the moment I feel healthy and I am happy about that.  

3. Overall 165.93; Elena Gedevanishvili 4.SP 57.14 (29.20+27.94); 3.FS 108.79 (51.18+57.61): The 22-year-old Elena Gedevanishvili spent her early life in the country of Georgia, but moved to Moscow to train. After she made a splash in the 2006 Olympics, finishing 10th, her family moved to the United States. But then her skating results followed a very up-and-down period as she grew. In Sheffield, she was fourth after the SP but climbed up a but climbed up a step overtaking Ksenia Makarova and claiming her second bronze in this event. (She previously earned bronze in Tallinn in 2010 in a very happy occassion since the President of Georgia was on a diplomic mission to Estonia . This season she has moved to Canada to train with Brian Orser. Skating her SP to the Tango, Jealousy by Jacob Gade, the 22-year-old who represents Georgia, gained a full point over the base value for her triple Lutz to double toe, +0.40 for her triple Salchow and +0.50 for her double Axel, but her flying sit spin was only Level 1. Her steps were Level 2 and her other two spins Level 3.  

In her FS, set to The Phantom of the Opera, she again began with a triple Lutz to double toe which earned +0.80 over its base, but her second triple Lutz got an arrow for slight under-rotation. Her double Axel combined with two double toes got the base value. Her triple Salchow earned an extra +0.70 and her flying sit was Level 4 with +0.57. At half way point, taking advantage of the 10% bonus, she executed another double Axel (+0.14), a base value triple toe to double toe, and a second triple toe (+ 0.60). Her combination spin was Level 3 but with a slight negative (-0.09). Her straight line steps were also Level 3 but with +0.57. However, her concluding move, a flying change foot combination earned sit spin was only Level 1 with -0.09.  

She said, “I think my performance was pretty good. I was just happy that it was over and that I had been strong enough to hold my programs together and that, after a long time, I enjoyed skating again. I didn't care if I was in fourth or in tenth place. I just enjoyed skating.” I had, of course, a few mistakes, on the second Lutz and the final spin, but overall I think my program was good. I was not worried about what place I would be in. I worked really hard and it was good to feel that it paid off. I didn't care if I was in fourth or in tenth place. The audience was so warm and welcoming. I have made changes in my life. I had to decide whether to give skating all I had or stop skating. When I represent my country and see the Georgian flag hanging up there, I feel very good. I will go back to Toronto and train again and I’ll go to New Jersey to see my parents. I’ll train and polish my programs and just enjoy it.” 

4. Overall 164.13 Polina Korbeynikova 12.SP 49.41 (28.41+23.00 -2); 2.FS 114.72 (63.57+51.15): This 15-year-old Russian, who is taught by former European bronze medalist, Viktoria Volchkova in Moscow, won bronze in the Jr Grand Prix Final in December. (Volchkova won bronze in the European championships 2000-2002.) Korbeynikova was only seventh in Russian nationals but four of those who placed above her were too young to compete in this event. (Skaters must have turned 15 by the start of the season, which is the previous July 1. Korbeynikova’s birthday is on April 12 so she qualified by two and a half months.)  

However, she had a bad SP, which she performed the Russian Dance from Tchaikovski’s The Nutcracker. She fell on the second jump in her opening element of triple flip to triple toe loop and then again on her second element, her triple loop. No other competitor attempted such a difficult combination. All five other moves got positive GoEs. She was the only competitor to get Level 4 for all three of her spins (with GoEs +0.09 for the flying sit, +0.93 for the layback, and +0.50 for the combination). Her steps were Level 3 with +0.64. Her double Axel received +0.07. 

In the FS, she performed brilliantly with all 12 moves gaining at least their base value. Skating to Otonal, this time she brought off the triple flip to triple toe which earned +0.90 over its base value so she immediately banked 10.30 points. Her triple Lutz got the base value, her second triple flip +0.70, a double Axel to triple toe +0.30 and, when the bonus marks clicked in, her triple loop earned +0.70. A triple Salchow to two double toes received its base value and her last jump, a second double Axel, got +0.29. The flying sit and layback spins were Level 4 with the sit getting its base value but her layback received a full point extra. She concluded with her Level 2 steps (+0.36) and Level 3 combination spin (+0.50).   

Korobeynikova (some-one PLEASE come up with a catchy, short nickname for this girl) earned the top technical marks for her great FS of 63.57, a huge 7.28 ahead of Kostner, who was second in this category. The third best FS technical score was 51.18 posted by Gedevanishvili, who was 5.11 further back. However, Korobeynikova’s components were only seventh best, a huge 12.89 behind Kostner. Overall, this rocketed Korobeynikova up to fourth, but she was still 1.80 points behind Gedevanishvili’s bronze medal winning  score. Speaking after her FS, Korobeynikova said, about her poor SP, “I can't really explain it. It is maybe psychological. For me the free skating is easier than the short. I am very happy with my (skate in Saturday’s final). It was better than in the qualifying round and the score was 5 points higher. I can’t say much about my first European appearance. I was very concentrated on myself.” 

5. Overall 160.82 Viktoria Helgesson 5.SP 55.68 (29.42+26.26); 5.FS 105.14 (49.72+55.42): The six-time (including this season) Swedish champion, who is 23, has a younger sister was also taking part in this competition. Viktoria was solidly fifth, which is her best placing in her five appearances in this event. (In 2008 she was 18th; 17th in 2009; 11th in 2010 and 6th last year.) Skating to My Funny Valentine by the Ahr Trio, she opened with a triple toe to double toe. The second jump was meant to be a triple and the move had a minimal -0.20 removed from the base value.  

She explained, “I should have waited one more second to get airborne for the second jump. It went up too early. Taking part in Skate America, where I had good scores although I made some mistakes, really motivated me. (In winning the bronze in Ontario, CA, meant she became the first Swede to medal in a Grand Prix event.) I felt I had reached a new level. That motivated me today. It’s really good having a sister also competing. We have so much fun when we’re not at the rink. It helps me relax more away from competition. It has happened that she has beaten me and that’s good for me. We compete with each other at each practice and we support each other. I am so lucky to have her.” Viktoria’s triple loop earned +0.10 and the double Axel +0.50. She was the only competitor to receive Level 4 for her step sequence (straight line  which earned +1.20). Her layback and flying sit spins were Level 4 with +0.64 and +0.21. She finished with a +0.57 Level 3 combination spin.  

In her Free, she drew to skate last of the 24 competitors who progressed to this stage, and performed to classic movie, Sunset Boulevard. Everything went fine in the first half with a triple toe to double toe to double loop, a second triple toe, a triple loop, Level 3 circular steps, and a Level 4 camel spin. But then, as the bonus marks clicked in, she got a double arrow for her triple flip. Most of the rest, which included a double Axel to double toe, a Level 3 Combination spin, a triple loop to double Axel combination and her final Level 4 flying sit spin was OK, but her final jump, a triple Salchow got a single arrow for slight under-rotation. She said, I felt good during my performance. I think I did a lot of right things. The crowd's support was really important. I love to skate when the public is supporting like that. It's so much fun.  

6. Overall 159.59 Ksenia Makarova (RUS) 3.SP 57.55 (29.47+28.08); 7.FS 102.04 (45.92+56.12): She is the 19-year-old daughter of Russian pair skaters, Larissa Selezneva and Oleg Makarov, who won the European title in 1987 & 1989 and also took the Olympic bronze in 1988. They brought their family to the United States and now teach in New York State. Makarova returned to Russia after becoming their Russian national champion in 2010. Although she has not been able to retain her title, those who beat her are still too young to enter this event. She skated her SP to Maria and the Violin’s String. Despite having -0.70 removed from her combination of two triple toes, -0.20 from her triple loop and gaining only Level 1 for her flying sit, Makarova took third place in the short although it was only 0.41 ahead of Gedevanishvili. Makarova’s other two spins and the steps were Level 3 and those moves and her double Axel got good GoEs. After the SP, she said, I’m content with my program. I fought until the end. After Russian Nationals I was back on the ice right away. I worked a lot on concentrating on each jump alone, pretty much just living in the jump and living in the moment. I skated a lot of programs for two weeks straight and just built up my physical and mental strength.  

She dropped to 6th overall with a 7th placed FS in which, to the song, Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend, she played blonde bombshell Marilyn Monroe dressed in pink with pink elbow-length gloves. Although she didn’t fall, she completely messed up her opening triple flip, earning only 0.90 for the move which received a double arrow and the jump was downgraded. Her combination of two triple toes had only -0.10 removed and her triple loop had an extra +0.10 added. Her layback was a lovely Level 4 with an extra full point. However, her intended triple loop to double toe to double loop, set for when the bonus marks click in, received an arrow for slight under-rotation of the first jump and she singled the third one. A triple Salchow to double toe earned its base value. The following double Axel had +0.70 added. However, a second double Axel got an arrow for slight under-rotation and, again, her flying sit was only Level 1. However, she got the audience applauding for her final move, a Level 3 +0.71 combination spin. She said, I’m disappointed to be honest. Even though it’s a season’s best, I wanted to skate how I’ve skated in practices. But I’m human, and I’m learning from my mistakes. I don’t know what the problem is. I have to just go out there and do it. I have a little ‘stopper’ that holds me back. But Worlds are two months away and there’s plenty of time to get rid of that ‘stopper’. 

7.Overall 158.78 Alena Leonova 6.SP 54.50 (25.66+28.84); 6.FS 104.28 (49.57+55.71 -1): Makarova’s teammate, the 21-year-old Alena Leonova, was taking part in her fourth European championships. She finished fourth in her debut in 2009, was 7th in 2010 and 5th last year. In the last world championship, she was fourth. She has been runner-up for her national title twice and was third this season. But, in Sheffield, she just didn’t have the right spark. And she was unlucky to be sixth in both sections but end up seventh overall. Skating her SP to Sirens from Pirates of the Caribbean in a scruffy black and white pirate outfit, she began with her combination of two triple toes, but the second jump received two arrows. She explained, The second triple toe was underrotated, I knew right away that it would be down graded. That wasn’t a surprise for me. However, I’m not sure why I got a Level 1 for the flying sit spin and a Level 2 for the combination spin. I felt I finished them the right way. I skated last (of the 28 competitors allowed through to the SP), and the pressure a bit. Overall it was a decent skate. I just looked at the difference in points and it is not so big, so I think I have a chance to pull up. I will fight for it tomorrow.  

In her FS, set to Adagio for Strings and Requiem for a Tower, she got the full rotational credit for her two triple toes combination but had -0.30 removed from the base value. The following triple loop had +0.40 added. But then she fell heavily on her triple Lutz. She explained, “I hurt my (left) knee badly. It hurt so much that I wanted to stop, but then I decided to push through.” Her change foot camel was Level 2 with +0.71. Her triple flip got one arrow for slight under-rotation but she was able to get back in the air for her second jump, a double toe. However, a full point was deducted from the element’s base value. Her choreographed steps earned +0.70. But then she got another arrow on the third jump of her triple Salchow to double toe to double loop combination and on the following triple flip. Her next jump was a single Axel. However, she made a real concerted effort to finish on a high note. Her flying sit spin straight line steps were both Level 3 with +0.36 and +0.57 respectively and her combination spin was Level 4 with 0.57.  

8.Overall 146.84 Valentina Marchei 7.SP 53.52 (27.85+25.67); 9.FS 93.32 (44.24+51.08 -2): Skating 25th to Johnny’s and Ronny’s Mambos from Strictly Dancing, the 25-year-old, who is the current and 2010 Italian champion, but was second when Kostner competed in 2011, made only one error resulting in –0.20 being removed from the base value of her first element, the triple Lutz to double toe. Her triple Salchow got +0.40 added and the double Axel +0.21. Her combination spin was Level 4 with +0.43, the layback spin and straight line steps were both Level 3 with +0.36. However, her flying sit was only Level 1 with +0.29. She said, “I'm so happy! I was in shape but so far it hasn't been the best season ever. I recovered from a bad injury that I got last year at Europeans. It took time off from skating from January till July and I started by doing single jumps again. My programs were ready in the middle of September. Now I can say I'm back in shape and I'm happy I did it and dealt with the stress, because it's been such a long time without any competitions for me, and today I just didn't want the stress to take over. My goal here is not a result, not a number or placement, but just to skate two programs that I'm proud of.” 

Her FS was to Who Framed Roger Rabbit?; Minnie, the Moocher; and Jumping Jack by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. She is now training in Detroit with Jason Dungjen and Yuko Sato although neither could be present because they had to be at US nationals taking place at the same time. She fell on her opening jump, a triple Lutz, but completed this move later combined with a double toe which earned its base value. But she also fell on her triple toe loop late in the program. She said, “Maybe I was pretending too much for myself and thought I was really ready. I’m probably physically not ready but I’m proud of myself for what I did achieve.” Marchei, whose father is a marathoner who competed in the 1980 and 1984 Olympics, first competed in European in 2006 when she finished 26th. Although she placed 9th in the FS, she dropped only one was able to hold onto 7th place   

9.Overall 145.50 Yretha Silete 8.SP 52.75 (31.03+21.72); 11.FS 92.75 (49.41+44.34 -1): The 17-year-old twice French champion, whose parents were emigrants from Togo, made her European Championship debut. Performing to the Tchaikovski’s music for Swan Lake, used in the movie Black Swan, she gained positive scores ranging from +0.20 (for her triple loop) up to +0.64 (for her double Axel). Her combination was a +0.30 combination of two triple toe loops. She gained Level 4 for her combination spin with +0.29. Her other Level moves were all 3. She said, “This was one of the best performances of the SP this season for me. I was very pleased with it. I left the ice feeling satisfied.”  

In her FS, set to Xotica by Rene Dupere, she opened with a +1.10 double Axel to triple toe but fell on the following triple, a flip. Although she got through a triple toe to two double toes with +0.10, she later messed up her triple Lutz and had -0.70 removed from a triple Salchow which was saddled with an arrow. However, two of her spins were Level 4 with +0.50 for the flying camel and +0.21 for the combination. Her layback was Level 2 with +0.36 and her straight line steps earned the base value for Level 3  She said, “I am a little bit sad. My performance was better than the one I did in the qualifying but still I made a few mistakes. I fell on my triple flip and I always land it.” She was asked whether there was any pressure competing with her main rival to make it onto the World team, since the event is in Nice in her home country. She replied, “I was not thinking about that. I was concentrated. I had nothing to lose. I’m just mad I didn’t do better. I was a little tired. With having to go through the qualifier, it’s been a long week.” She dropped a place to ninth overall.  

10.Overall 145.11 Joshi Helgesson 9.SP 52.32 (28.87+23.45); 10.FS 92.79 (46.40+46.39 -1): The 18-year old skated to music from the James Bond movie The Man with the Golden Arm. This was her first European championship. She has now been runner-up twice to her older sister for the Swedish national title. All her seven elements in the SP received a positive average GoE ranging from a low of +0.14 for her Level 3 flying camel up to two +0.50s for her triple Lutz and the triple Salchow to double toe loop. 

Joshi began her FS, which was set to music from the modern movie, Romeo and Juliet, with a good triple Lutz to double toe but then messed up her triple loop which was given an arrow for slight under-rotation. A triple Salchow earned +0.10. A triple Lutz got +0.30 and a triple toe earned its base value. However, a second triple Salchow, in sequence with a double Axel, was saddled with an arrow and her final jumping pass, a double Axel to double toe to double loop got a double arrow on the final jump which was downgraded. The audience, however, loved her final move, a Level 4 +0.43 combination spin. She said, “I think my performance was great except for the ending. Overall, I’m happy. I did three good programs during this competition. I don’t know what happened with the fall on the footwork at the end. I tripped over my feet! It happens.” 

11.Overall 141.92 Elena Glebova 10.SP 52.32 (28.50+23.82); 13.FS 89.60 (43.62+46.98 -1):  The 22-year-old Glebova, who has been Estonian Senior champion 2005-7 & 2009-12, lost out on a tie breaker with Joshi Helgesson which, for the SP, is done on the technical mark. Skating to Angels & Demons, she said,

This season she moved to train in Hackensack, NJ, with Igor Krokavec. She said, “I think practicing in the US is kind of a different system than in Europe, because they do more complete run throughs and spend more time on the ice. I really enjoy being in the US and it's very good for me.”  

Her FS was to Khachaturian’s Spartacus. She began with a +0.70 double Axel to triple toe loop but they got an arrow for slight under-rotation for both her triple Lutz which got an “e” call for wrong edge takeoff and fell on her double arrow triple loop. She accomplished a triple Salchow to two double toes and a second triple Salchow to one double toe, but she had a flawed second double Axel. She explained, “It definitely wasn't my best, because in November I got more than 100 (points) and now it wasn't even 90, and I was a bit disappointed because not all the jumps in the program worked out successfully. But I think switching coaches made me better than ever and my season had been really successful so far. Earlier, I did a personal best both in the short and long program, and I won two ISU international competitions.” 

12. Overall 138.60 Natalia Popova, Ukraine 19.SP 43.75 (23.58+21.17 -1); 8.FS 94.85 (52.93+41.92): 

13. Overall 137.33 Mae Berenice Meite 11 SP 49.86 (28.12+21.74); 15 FS 87.47 (45.94+43.53 -2):

The 17-year-old was French champion three times until her teammate dethroned her this season. In her debut in Europeans last year, she finished 9th. She was 11th after the SP which she performed to Last Letter from the Prince by Henri Torgue. But she wasn’t pleased with her FS, saying, “It was so bad. Everything was bad. The jumps were not alright. I was ready but it was just not right. It is very disappointing. I wanted to skate in Worlds because this year they are in France but now I think it will not be me. It is very sad for me.”  

18. Overall 125.41 Jenna McCorkell 16 SP 45.32 (22.01+23.31); 20 FS 80.09 (37.31+43.78 -1): Skating her first international in Britain, the nine-time UK champion just let the pressure get to her. After the SP she said, “I made really, really silly and stupid mistakes. I don't know what went wrong with combination. I'm not very happy at all with my levels. (On the crowd)  They're very enthusiastic. The crowd did add pressure in a way but in a good way. They're fun.” But things  got worse in the FS.

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