Moscow might be the coldest place on earth right now. But is a great place to go skating. This year’s Europeans take place just a few weeks before the Winter Olympics and its a pre-cursor to who will win in Pyeongchang. In all, over 110 skaters will compete this weekend, with host country, Russia, looking to dominate.
Men: Spain’s Javier Fernandez has dominated Europeans for the last 5 years, and there’s no reason why he can’t dominate this year. He goes for his 6th title this week against a field of 36 other skaters. He had a disappointing Grand Prix season, having finished 6th at Cup of China. But he came back with a win at Internationaux de France in Grenoble. It will be a tough go at it with two Russian skaters competing in Moscow. Mikhail Kolyada had his best season winning Cup of China and finding his way to the podium in the Grand Prix Final. Alexander Samarin is the other skater, he found his way to the podium at Skate Canada and finished second behind Kolyada at Russian nationals. Israel’s Alexei Bychenko looks to find his way back to the European podium after a 5th place finish last season. He was 2nd in 2016.
Skaters to Watch – Belgium’s Jorik Hendrickx barely missed the podium at Europeans in 2017. He captured his 2nd straight national title and also has a 5th place finish at Skate Canada this Grand Prix season. Russia’s Dimitri Aliev took 3rd at nationals and could make a run this weekend. He won the Junior Grand Prix in 2017. Israel’s Daniel Samohin was 2nd at nationals and is looking to make a top 10 finish this season. Other skaters that could make the top 10 are Moris Kvitelashvili of Georgia, Deniss Vasiljievs of Latvia and veteran skater Michal Brezina of the Czech Republic.
Smooth’s Pick: Fernandez in a flash!
1. Javier Fernandez (ESP)
2. Mikhail Kolyada (RUS)
3. Alexei Bychenko (ISR)
Ladies: For two years straight, Russian women have dominated Europeans, sweeping the podiums each year. Even though the event is in Moscow, sweeping for a third straight year could be tough. Evgenia Medvedeva returns to the ice after an injury took her out of Russian nationals. She’s been undefeated for three straight years, only losing at Rostelecom Cup in 2015. She’s considered the favorite this weekend, but her teammate Alina Zagitova may be her real competition. She’s also been on a hot streak, winning all her competitions, including the Grand Prix Final. Maria Sotskova had two 2nd place finishes in Grand Prix action and was 2nd at Russian nationals. If there isn’t a Russian sweep at Europeans, if could be broken up by Italy’s Carolina Kostner. She had two 2nd place finishes in GP season, (Rostelecom Cup and NHK Trophy) and missed the podium in the Grand Prix Final.
Skaters to Watch – It might be “slim pickings” for the rest of the field of ladies competing. Laurine Lecavelier was 5th at Europeans in 2017 and was also 8th at Skate Canada and 11th at Internationaux de France. Nicole Rajicova of Slovakia has a 6th place finish at last year’s Europeans, but also struggled on the Grand Prix circuit. Iveth Toth was 8th last year, but didn’t participate in Grand Prix competition this season. Other skaters looking to break the top 10 are Nicole Svhott of Germany, Mae Bernice Meite of France, Loena Hendrickx of Belgium (Jorik’s younger sister) and Matilda Algotsson of Sweden.
Smooth’s Pick: If there’s a time to break the Russian sweep, this is the year.
1. Evgenia Medvedeva (RUS)
2. Alina Zagitova (RUS)
3. Carolina Kostner (ITA)
Pairs: Breaking news on Monday, as the number #1 team in the world, Germany’s Aljona Savchenko & Bruno Massot were forced to pull out of this weekend’s competition due to injury. That gives the Russians a better chance for two medals or even sweep the podium. Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov are at the top of the list as contenders. They were winners at Rostelecom Cup and at Internationaux de France. However they stumbled in the Grand Prix final, finishing in 5th. Teammates Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov missed their 4th straight national championship.They look to return to the Europeans podium for the first time since 2015. Natalia Zabiiako & Alexander Enbert were 5th last year at Europeans and reached their first Grand Prix final, finishing in 4th place. If the Russian’s don’t sweep, their challenge could come from France’s Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres, who reached the podium for the first time last season, finishing 3rd. However, an injury that made the team miss French nationals could affect their skating this weekend.
Skaters to Watch – Italy sports two teams in the ISU’s top 10 that could also spoil a Russian sweep. Valentina Marchei & Ondrej Hotarek were 6th at last year’s Europeans and had a Grand Prix season’s best 4th place finish at Rostelecom Cup. Nicole Della Monica & Matteo Guarise won their third straight national title and had a 3rd place finish at Internationaux de France. They were 8th at Europeans last season. Miriam Ziegler & Severin Kiefer of Austria look to improve on their 9th place finish at last year’s Europeans.
Smooth’s Pick: How sweep it is!
1. Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov (RUS)
2. Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov (RUS)
3. Natalia Zabiiako & Alexander Enbert (RUS)
Ice Dance: 31 teams will compete for the title this weekend. At the top of the list are two-time World champions, Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron. They look to continue their hot skating and a possible 4th straight European title. Russia’s Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev, who are ranked 2nd in the world by the ISU, won their 7th straight national title this season. They were 3rd at Europeans last season. Italy’s Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte are hungry for another European title, but have only managed 2nd three years in a row. Teammates Charlene Guignard & Marco Fabbri haven’t been better than 6th in Europeans. This might be their best chance to make the podium.
Skaters to Watch – Russia’s Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin finished third twice in Grand Prix competition this season. They haven’t had a podium finish in Europeans since 2015 (3rd). There will be no Olympics for Laurence Fournier Beaudry & Nikolaj Sorensen of Denmark due to being unable to obtain Danish citizenship, so this will be their Olympics. They had a 5th place finish at NHK this season and were 7th last season at Europeans. Poland’s Natalia Kaliszek & Maksym Spodryriev 8th last year at Europeans. Other teams looking to reach the top ten are Marie-Jade Lauriault & Romain Le Gac of France, Tiffani Zagorski & Jonathan Guerreio of Russia and Penny Coomes & Nicholas Buckland of Great Britain
Smooth’s Pick: This will be their hardest competition, but the French team will pull it off.
1. Gabriella Papadakis & Guillaume Cizeron (FRA)
2. Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev (RUS)
3. Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte (ITA)