Europeans 2018, day two: Russians, Russians everywhere

January 19, 2018
By Titanilla Bőd (Új Szó)
Photos © Oxana Shkrebtienko (LMDJ)

The first two spots are occupied by home competitors after the ladies' short program at the European championships, while in pairs, the Russians swept the podium after a cruel twist for overnight leaders Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres.
These are some impressions about the second day of the Europeans in Moscow.

The prodigy: Alina Zagitova How do the Russians do it?

It seems they have a special place to develop brilliant young lady skaters. The rumours about Alina Zagitova fromthe junior competitions were more than promising. Watch out for this girl, she is extraordinary!
The former Hungarian ice dancing world champion last year in Helsinki noted that it's impossible to take a picture of her in which she is not in absolute control of her whole body, from her toes to the fingertips.
The 15-year-old Russian prodigy made an impressive debut at a major senior competition: in Moscow she skated with energy and passion, without any small mistake. She completed a triple Lutz, triple loop combination, a triple flip, a double Axel and level 4 spins and steps and earned a new personal best 80,27 points. "I think there is still room for improvement for me, but it was the best short program of the season. It’s my first Europeans, but I was able to calm down and I was able to show what I have worked on with my coaches. I am very pleased to finally have skated a clean short program. Since Russian Nationals I’ve been focusing on consistency in practice and on polishing all elements," Zagitova revealed her secret.

The legend: Carolina Kostner

It's impossible not to love Carolina Kostner. She takes part in her 14th Europeans, yet she is one of the most genuine, most humble competitors ever. Even if she almost reached perfection, she is never tired of learning new things, trying new methods to improve, she is never afraid of making changes to get closer to her dreams. What she showed in Moscow in her 'Ne me quitte pas' short program, was beyond figure skating. It was pure art, yet technically brilliant, with a triple flip, triple toe loop combination, a triple loop and a double Axel, and level 4 spins and step sequence. "I have this vision of skating I want to pursue and I just have crazy courage to put pieces by pieces together and I’m grateful for every day. In my vision of skating you combine the technique with the feeling and the emotions. It’s not only the movement, but it's about opening your heart. Opening your heart sometimes means also opening it to difficult emotions. If you want to feel joy, you have to feel the pain as well and that’s sometimes not so easy, but it takes courage, patience and determination to lay it down and skate it and feel it with your heart," the Italian legend said about her ars poetica.

The difference: 1.97 points

The ladies' competition is really tight between the first three competitors, Alina Zagitova, Evgenia Medvedeva and Carolina Kostner- there is only 1.97 points difference. The two-time World champion, Medvedeva, showed her trademark high quality skating, but she made a little step-out from her double Axel that cost her a better score. With 78.57 points she is second, but only has 0.27 points advantage ahead of Kostner! "It was not ideal, but first of all, I want to say thank you for the support. The support of the fans gives me strength. But of course, I am not completely satisfied. There were many moments where I need to do better. I understand that very well so now I need to work," Medvedeva commented on her performance.

The emotion: anger

Reigning champions in the pairs' event, Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, made a big mistake in their short program, so they were only fifth. Naturally, they were not satisfied with that placement. "We didn’t like the short program. It was the worst we have done. So today we were angry with ourselves and we used this anger to skate and complete everything well," Vladimir confessed. Their free skate to a playful medley of songs by Christina Aguilera and Elvis Presley was technically flawless, but emotionally still a bit tense. "Yesterday was a real shock for us, but today we managed to gather ourselves. We felt really strong emotions at the start but after we successfully did the quad twist, we felt calmer," Evgenia explained right after their skate. They had to wait for a long time to realize that they actually managed to climb up from fifth place to the top of Europe. And in the end they stood on the podium with their compatriots; neither Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov, nor Natalia Zabiiako and Alexander Enbert skated clean, but they earned enough points to get a medal. For Stolbova and Klimov this silver is their fourth medal from Europeans, while Zabiiako and Enbert celebrated their very first podium placement on a major competition.

The cruel difference: 0.01 points

Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres of France are well aware of their mistakes in the free skating. There were some doubled jumps, some lost synchro in spins and a wobbly ending on a was far from perfect even though she landed a quad throw Salchow. Still, their routine to 'Say Something' (by the way, also by Christina Aguilera) had some magical emotion that touched many fans. When their scores came out, they couldn't believe their own eyes. While the Russian fans were celebrating the podium sweep, Vanessa and Morgan tried to digest the fact that despite being in the lead after the short, they missed the podium by only 0.01 points...

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