For the sixth time in the history of the European Championships and the second year in a row, the Russian ladies swept the podium.
Skating second in the final group, Evgenia Medvedeva covered her ears as the marks of the previous skater were being announced. She then glided to the starting position for her program to the “W.E.” soundtrack and got into character, once more placing her hands over her ears. What followed was a choreographically intricate and technically challenging routine that the Grand Prix Final champion performed showing maturity beyond her years.
After landing seven triple jumps, her only error was a fall on a relatively easy double Axel towards the end of her program. Sitting in the kiss and cry with her coach Eteri Tutberidze, Medvedeva was overcome with surprise and joy when she saw her free skate score of 142.90 had given her a total of 215.45 and the overall lead in her Europeans debut.
She will head to the World Championships in Boston and try to become the first female skater to win gold in her first appearance since Oksana Baiul did so in 1993. “My goal is to work hard every day and, if I can do that, I think my results will be good,” Medvedeva said when asked how she expected to fare in Boston.
Last year’s European silver medalist Elena Radionova was the first skater in the final flight and once again gave a strong performance to her “Titanic-” themed free. The Russian teenager also nailed seven triples in her routine, but a poorer grade of execution and a considerably less demanding program structure put her behind Medvedeva.
Radionova still managed to come close to her personal best with a score of 139.03 for her free and 209.99 in total. She will now go to Worlds and look to improve on her third place from last season. “You need to prepare well for Worlds as it’s the most important competition of the season,” Radionova said. “I will try hard to reach my peak at that time, to be in the best shape I can and be ready.”
Two nasty falls on a triple Lutz and a triple loop in Anna Pogorilaya’s “Scheherazade” program plus a triple flip at the end that was penalized with a wrong edge call by the technical panel, kept the 2015 European bronze medalist in third. She earned a free score of 123.24 and 187.05 overall. “I have very mixed emotions because it wasn’t a very good skate, but it was good experience for me so now I need to move forward,” Pogorilaya said.
Judging by the audience’s reaction to the score Latvia’s Angelina Kuchvalska was awarded, it was clear that people felt she had done enough to dislodge Pogorilaya from the podium. The last skater of the event, she performed to a unique mix of “El Tango de Roxanne” and “Love Theme” from Nino Rota’s “Romeo and Juliet” soundtrack.
Despite landing all of her planned jumps, Kuchvalska was hit with two under-rotation violations, which cost her valuable points. A free score of 118.00 and total of 176.99 (both personal bests) did give her fourth place and the highest finish for a Latvian skater at Europeans since Konstantin Kostin in 1993. “This result gives me great confidence,” Kuchvalska said in the mixed zone following her performance. “My next competition is Junior Worlds in Hungary and I want to skate cleanly there too.”