The stage is set for this year’s European championship in Bratislava, Slovak Republic. This is the fourth time Europeans have taken place in Slovakia. Bratislava last hosted the Championships in 2001 and held it previously in 1958 and 1966, when it was part of Czechoslovakia.
Here are our picks.
Analysis – Defending world champion Javier Fernandez of Spain comes into Europeans gunning for a fourth consecutive title. This Grand Prix season, he was clearly outmatched Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu, but managed to grab a silver medal with a season best of 292.95. Reigning European silver medalist Maxim Kovtun of Russia looks to challenge Fernandez. The 3-time National champion is coming off a poor performance at NHK Trophy, finishing 10th. His teammate Mikhail Kolyada makes his debut in Europeans. He finished 2nd at Nationals and had a 5th place showing at Rostelecom Cup this fall. Michal Brezina of the Czech Republic looks to return to the podium after a two year drought. He’ll have to have a better performance than his last two competitions (8th, Skate Canada; 7th, NHK Trophy).
Skaters to Watch – Israel’s Alexei Bychenko someone to keep an eye on this weekend. He finished fourth at Europeans last year, though he had a rough Grand Prix season. His teammate, Daniel Samohin will be skating at his 2nd Europeans and is currently ranked 20th by the ISU. 2011 European Champion Florent Amodio of France is a perennial contender and will challenge the field along with Belgium’s Jorik Hendrickx.
- Javier Fernandez (ESP)
- Mikhail Kolyada (RUS)
- Alexei Bychenko (ISR)
Analysis – The story will be the depth and strength of the ladies from Russia. Will they sweep the podium? It’s certainly a possibility this weekend. They’re led by the reigning Grand Prix Final Champion Evgenia Medvedeva, who made her first season on the senior level memorable. Last year’s European bronze medalist Elena Radionova hasn’t less than a 4th place finish since 2014. Anna Pogorilaya recovered from a tough showing at NHK Trophy (9th) to take 3rd at Nationals and will look to regain a podium spot. One skater that looks to break the logjam is Roberta Rodeghiero of Italy. She surprised judges with a strong Short Program at Trophee Bompard in November and will look to medal.
Skaters to Watch – It will be a rough task to medal with this strong crop of skaters. But there are some skaters worth watching. Sweden’s Joshi Helgesson has a 4th place finish from last season and will look to break through. Mae-Berenic Meite of France also has a top 10 from last year’s Europeans (6th). Angelina Kuchvalska of Latvia is a strong contender for a top 5 finish. Nicole Rajicova (Slovakia) looks to give the home crowd something to cheer about.
- Evgenia Medvedeva
- Elena Radionova
- Anna Pogorilaya
Analysis – Russia was rocked by two consecutive withdrawals by their top teams. Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov pulled out prior to Nationals and Yuko Kavaguti & Alexander Smirnov pulled out last week due to an injury in practice and will not compete. That may end dreams of a podium sweep. Olympic Champions Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov make a return and look to regain their European title after sitting out last season. They’ve competed only one Short Program in the Grand Prix series (1st, Trophee Bompard). Five-time World Champion Aliona Savchenko of Germany is back with a new partner, Bruno Massot, formerly of France. The new partnership is already paying dividends, having won a German title. Other podium contenders include 2015 European bronze medalists Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov of Russia (2nd Skate Canada; 3rd Nationals) and Vanessa James & Morgan Cipres of France (4-time National Champions).
Skaters to Watch – Russia has replaced Kavaguti & Smirnov with Kristina Astkhova & Alexei Rogonov, who had a 4th place finish at Nationals. The Italians have two teams that could make headlines. Nicole Della Monica & Matteo Guarise are the current National champions and have a 5th place showing (Short Program) at Trophee Bompard, while Valentina Marchei & Ondrej Hotarek finished second at Nationals.
- Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov (RUS)
- Aliona Savchenko & Bruno Massot (GER)
- Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov (RUS)
Analysis – 28 teams will compete this weekend, with the top teams coming from France and Italy. European and World Champions Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron sat out the Grand Prix season due to a serious head injury to Papadakis. They won their 2nd consecutive National championship and will be challenged by Grand Prix Final silver medalists, Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte. Three Russian teams look to grab a spot on the podium. 2013 European Champions Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev won their 5th consecutive National championship. Victoria Sinitsina & Nikita Katsalapov had a strong Grand Prix season, on their way to a 2nd place finish at Nationals and 2015 European bronze medalists Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin continue to improve their performance, taking 3rd at Nationals.
Skaters to Watch – Italians Charlene Guignard & Marco Fabbri are currently ranked 5th in the ISU standings and have performed well this season (Two 4th place finishes at Skate Canada and Moscow). 2014 European bronze medalists Penny Coomes & Nicholas Buckland just picked up their 4th British title and are also contenders for the podium. Slovakia hopes the team of Federica Testa & Lukas Csolley can medal this weekend. They have a 4th place finish at Cup of China this Grand Prix season.
- Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron (FRA)
- Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte (ITA)
- Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev (RUS)