The Europeans: what to expect

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Inside Skating is in Budapest for the 2014 Europeans – but before getting to the stories of the event, here’s where we stand: Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat announced they would skip this year’s edition of the competition – they have to prepare their brand new short program, skated on a piece from the musical “Chicago”; Carolina Kostner changed both of her programs – she returned to a (probably) improved version of “Bolero” for the long and chose “Ave Maria” for the short, replacing the wonderful “Humoresque”; and Brian Joubert changed his short program too, after a week spent in Novogorsk with Nikolai Morozov. All in all, the biggest fight in Budapest will happen in the pairs’ event – a preview of the Olympic battle here, at the Europeans, starring Tatiana Volosozhar&Maxim Trankov and Aliona Savchenko&Robin Szolkowy.
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by Florentina Tone

With Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev giving up at the 2014 Europeans in order to better prepare for the Olympics in homeland Russia, Nathalie Péchalat and Fabian Bourzat decided to do the same – and they had a powerful reason to do that: the French have drastically changed their short program. According to Nathalie, quoted by “L’Equipe”, “The judges haven’t found our Cabaret by Bob Fosse as ballroom as needed. We’re going to use «Roxy» from «Chicago» for the short”. On their facebook account, Nathalie tried to explain the absence from the Europeans to the fans: “We do understand your sorrow about our withdrawal from the European Championships… We’re very sorry about that, but we appreciate your understanding and your support. This is only for the best, for our most wanted medal, at Olympics. Sochi starts in one month!!”

Under these circumstances, the battle for gold in Budapest will most likely involve the Russians Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov (runners-up last year in Zagreb) and the Italians Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte. Best of luck to them and may the best couple win!

A preview of the Olympics, in Budapest
The pairs’ event in Budapest is clearly a preview of the same event at the Olympics: will Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy manage to repeat their performance from the Grand Prix Final, where they defeated Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov? We will find out the answer on Sunday – but until then look for photos and pieces of news on Inside Skating.

If you put aside the gold and the silver, what about the European bronze in the pairs’ event? We actually have a set of powerful couples wanting that particular medal: a pair from Italy (Stefania Berton and Ondrej Hotarek) and two pairs from Russia (Vera Bazarova&Yuri Larionov, Ksenia Stolbova&Fedor Klimov).

The second European gold for Javier Fernandez?
When it comes to the men’s event, Javier Fernandez will definitely try to defend his title; and, most likely, he will succeed. But we do have a young a talented Russian, Maxim Kovtun, trying to make a point at these Europeans, in his attempt to win Russia’s single berth in this event at the Olympics. Of course, Kovtun won the National Championships at the end of December, defeating Evgeni Plushenko, but nothing is yet decided as regards the Russian Olympic berth; actually, a test skate for Evgeni Plushenko will be held on January 21 – and a final decision on who’s going to represent Russia in Sochi will be made around that particular date.

In Budapest, the battle for the podium will be harsh; alongside Fernandez and Kovtun, we do have Michal Brezina, Sergei Voronov, Kostantin Menshov, Florent Amodio and Brian Joubert; the last one with a brand new short program choreographed at Novogorsk by Nikolai Morozov. This particular “alliance”, just before the debut of the Olympics, was explained by both skater and coach in an interview given for World Figure Skating: “My goal is to feel very confident on the ice, not only technically and physically but also emotionally. I want to be happy with my skating. Nikolai gave me a lot of positive energy” (Brian), “After Budapest, he [Brian] comes again here and we will continue to practice in Novogorsk. Everything should be fine at the Olympics. He learns fast, memorizes fast and catches fast. And he has a big progress. I would like to continue my work with him!” (Nikolai)

Change of programs for Carolina Kostner
I have to be honest with you: I do have a favorite in the ladies event in Budapest. The Italian Carolina Kostner – though Carolina drastically changed her programs for the Olympic season. Here’s a message from her; at the moment everyone expected she dropped the continental competition, Carolina announced she was coming to Budapest, but with a different set of routines: “Euros are coming up. This year in Budapest, like 10 years ago! I participated then for the second time and this is going to be my 12th. How exciting! I feel very happy and honored to be back competing in this beautiful city. As for my skating, I withdrew from Italian Nationals because of a back injury. During this time I had some time to think about my programs and I decided to make some changes: different music, different choreography. Short Program: Ave Maria – Schubert. Free Skating: Bolero – Ravel. I was very interested in keeping Bolero for the Olympic year, but I didn’t want to give up at the pleasure of the choreographic process and the challenge of a new program. That way I could also choose which one felt better. Due to the time off with my injury, I just couldn’t get Scheherazade to feel right. Together with Lori Nichol, I decided that I love the tempo, the pacing and the energy of Bolero. The short is new. We both love the Humoresque, but some people loved it and some couldn’t understand the story. The idea of the yin and yang of the pure angelic and ethereal Ave Maria and the sensual, yet bold, Bolero just inspires me every day. Thank you, Lori, for working with me last minute and for the fun we have on the ice”.

But Carolina will have to put up a real fight in Budapest, because Julia Lipnistkaia (second place at the GPF Final) and Adelina Sotnikova (fifth in Fukuoka) are both breathing on Caro’s neck. And I wouldn’t rule out from the battle for the podium the Russian Alena Leonova and the other other Italian, Valentina Marchei. Valentina has two wonderful programs for the Olympic season and a medal at the Europeans would be a great incentive for this talented girl.

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