All eyes will be on Ostrava in the Czech Republic, where for the first time in the city’s history, the European Figure Skating Championships will take place. Three reigning European Champions are back and hope to defend their titles against a host of skaters looking to make the podium.
Analysis – Spain’s Javier Fernandez is looking for his fifth consecutive Men’s title. He’s the odds on favorite being the defending champ. But his 4th place finish in the Grand Prix final leave a bit of an opening for a challenge. The best chance comes from 2016 European silver medalist Alexei Bychenko of Israel. He gave the country its first international medal in figure skating and is a favorite to medal this year. Russia’s newly crowned national champion Mikhail Kolyada has an inside chance. However, he has a 4th place finish at Rostelecom Cup and finished 5th at NHK Trophy. Teammate Maxim Kovtun has medaled twice at Europeans and is currently 6th in the ISU men’s standings. He had a disappointing Grand Prix season, finishing 7th each time at Skate America and Cup of China.
Skaters to Watch: 2013 European bronze medalist Michal Brezina is counting on a home advantage to return on to the podium. His best finish this season was a 4th place finish at Skate Canada. Other contenders include 2016 World Junior Champion Daniel Samohin if Israel, who was 7th last year at Eurpeans. Belgium’s Jorik Hendrickx , who’s best finish was 6th at Trophee de France. 2016 ISU Junior Grand Prix Final silver medalist Alexander Samarin of Russia and Alexander Majorov of Sweden.
1. Javier Fernandez (ESP)
2. Alexei Bychenko (ISR)
3. Michal Brezina (CZE)
Analysis – Russian Ladies are aiming at a third consecutive podium sweep this weekend. But it may not be so easy this year, as returning five-time European Champion Carolina Kostner of Italy returns from suspension in an attempt to re-gain her title. However, reigning World and European Champion Evgenia Medvedeva of Russia is the odds on favorite to take the top spot this weekend. She continues to be at the top of her game, winning all competitions this season, including the Grand Prix Final. Teammates Anna Pogorilaya and Maria Sotskova each have had successful seasons so far. Pogorilaya had 1st place finishes at Rostelecom Cup and NHK and was 3rd in Marseille. Sotskova had a 2nd place finish at Trophee de France, a 3rd place showing at NHK and finished 5th in the Grand Prix final.
Skaters to Watch: Sweden’s Joshi Helgesson looks to improve on her 9th place performance from last year. Her best placement was 4th in 2015. Latvia’s Angelina Kuchvalska finished 4th in last year’s Europeans. French champion Laurine Lecavelier has a top 10 finish in Europeans the last two years, while German champion Nathalie Weinzierl looks to improve on her 7th place finish from last year.
1. Evgenia Medvedeva (RUS)
2. Carolina Kostner (ITA)
3. Anna Pogorilaya (RUS)
Analysis: It’s looking like a fight between Russian and German skate teams. Defending champions Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov of Russia are not competing this season as she is expecting a baby in February. Two-time and reigning European bronze medalists, Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov of Russia look like the favorites following their win at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final. Defending European silver medalists Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot of Germany won both their two Grand Prix events, but then were sidelined when Savchenko injured her ankle at Trophée de France in November. They had to withdraw from the Grand Prix Final. 2014 Olympic silver medalists Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov of Russia also had injury problems, as Stolbova recovered from injury. They were able to win the Russian pairs championship last month. Teammates Natalia Zabiiako and Alexander Enbert finished 2nd at Rostelecom Cup, 4th at Trophee de France and qualified for the GP Final, finishing 4th.
Skaters to Watch: France’s Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres had a strong Grand Prix season, finishing 4th at Skate America and 3rd at Trophee de France, just missing the GP Final. Italy’s Nicole Della Monica and Matteo Guarise finished 6th at Europeans last year. Teammates Valentina Marchei and Ondrej Hotarek look to improve on their 5th place finish from last year.
1. Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov (RUS)
2. Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot (GER)
3. Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov (RUS)
France’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron are looking for their third consecutive title, but it won’t be easy. Their 2nd place finish at the Grand Prix Final could lead to an opening for Italians Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte to slip in to the top spot. Last year’s 2nd place finishers had a slight set back when they didn’t qualify for the Grand Prix final. There are three Russian teams that could fight for the third spot on the podium. Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev look like strong contenders after winning their 6th Russian ice dance championship. Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin have a 2nd place finish at Russian nationals and were 5th at Europeans last year. Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov were 4th at Europeans and look to take a spot on the podium this year.
Skaters to Watch: Italy’s Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri are ranked 7th in the world and have two 4th place finishes in Grand Prix competition this season. They picked up their 7th 2nd place finish in a row at Italian Nationals. Israel’s Isabella Tobias and Ilia Tkachenko are looking to give the country it’s first top 5 finish at Europeans. They were 10th last year and 12th at 2016 Worlds.
1. Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron (FRA)
2. Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte (ITA)
3. Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev (RUS)