Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov: “Winning our second title was harder than the first”

If you had asked Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov how they envisioned their fourth Europeans, well, they surely wouldn’t have told you they saw themselves on the 5th place after the short program. Who would have, anyway?
And so they had a lot to make up for in the free – and they did exactly that on Thursday, January 18, during the first medal-awarding event at 2018 Europeans. And a particular type of energy was involved, Vladimir will share right after their skate – and that speaks mountains of their fighting spirit: “We were angry with ourselves, and we used this anger to skate and complete everything well and with good speed, and we got good marks for all our elements”.
The result? They got to keep their crown.

by Florentina Tone

Watching Evgenia and Vladimir skate their long program in Moscow, you’re struck with some sort of a revelation: the reigning European champions won’t give up their crown so easily.

And so they offer a strong, colourful, upbeat performance in Megasport arena, and they’re fully invested in it, you can tell. And they start owning the program, not vice versa – as it was more or less the case during the first part of the season.

Their choice of music for the free skate – in particular “Candyman” and “Nasty Naughty Boy” by Christina Aguilera – has been the subject of many heated discussions so far. But they’re defending it – Vladimir in the press conference: “I would say the musical style is really close to us, so we had no problems concentrating on it. We also have some good skating skills, which helped” – and, also a first, they looked convincing while skating to it at Europeans.

And though some of the elements received higher grades of execution that you would have expected (I am looking at you, 3STh, 3LoTh – Evgenia touched down with the free leg in both cases), and the 151.23 points for the free skate were a bit generous – at least comparing Evgenia and Vladimir’s performance to other 150-point performances during the season –, their placement is clearly not to be disputed. And so they’ll go to PyeongChang as two-time European champions, 2017 World bronze medalists and current national champions.

In the press conference, Evgenia will summarize their overall presence at this year’s edition of the Europeans: “This victory was harder than the last. Last time we skated the short and free program well. This time I made mistakes in the short program and so we had to make up for it in the free. That made winning our second title harder than the first”.

Evgenia Tarasova: “Yesterday was a real shock for us, but today we managed to gather ourselves. We felt really strong emotions at the start, but after we successfully did the quad twist, we felt calmer. We know what we had to do and what we could do, and today we skated with only small mistakes, so we are happy”.

Vladimir Morozov: “We didn’t like the short program. It was the worst we have done. So today we were angry with ourselves and we used this anger to skate and complete everything well and with good speed, and we got good marks for all our elements. It is a good step for us, but we are not completely happy. The short was bad and, for us, the free skate was just normal. Now we need to continue to prepare for our next event. I think we will make changes in the short to avoid the mistake at the beginning. The free skate doesn’t need corrections, we will just keep trying to improve”.

The medalists in the pairs event at 2018 Europeans: Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov (silver), Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov (gold) and Natalia Zabiiako and Alexander Enbert (bronze)

…and on the podium in Moscow not everyone was happy

Not good, not bad, but somewhere in the middle: “It was ok”
Apparently, Europeans just aren’t Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov’s competition – in their six participations in the event, they won a bronze and three silver medals, the last one, in Moscow, at 2018 edition.

With Evgenia and Vladimir sitting in 5th place after the short, Ksenia and Fedor surely had their chances, but their mistakes in the free – she fell on an underrotated triple Salchow while he doubled the second jump of their planned triple Toe-triple Toe combination – only offered them the silver; and the silver was in danger as well: only 0.83 of a point separated them from the bronze medal winners.

One thing you can’t deny though: “Carmen Suite” by Georges Bizet is a marvelous choice of music for these two and, in spite of the misses, they stayed in the character, they kept the story going.

Leaving the ice, they knew they left many points on the table – and a close-up showed Fedor’s mom in the audience. And she wasn’t exuding joy.

Fedor will say later in the press conference: “Not everything worked today, especially the jumps. So overall we are not that happy, but it was ok. The result is ok”.

A bronze medal in their second Europeans
Skating to iconic music – “The Sleeping Beauty” by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky – and making full use of their natural qualities – they’re tall, balletic, elegant –, Natalia Zabiiako and Alexander Enbert won their first medal in an ISU Championships, the bronze, leading to a Russian sweep in the pairs event at 2018 Europeans.

That was a beautiful performance from Natalia and Alexander, half jazzy, half classic, at Europeans. Definitely a Russian pair for the future – they look more and more polished, we wrote on twitter seconds after the performance, and we stand by our words.

“We didn’t think about how we did in the short program, we just did almost everything we prepared and, aside from the mistakes, we are pleased”, said Natalia in the mixed zone, while Alexander will add: “Ever since Russian Nationals we are progressing. There was the mistake on the combination, but we enjoyed the performance and we hope the audience did too. It is our home stage, so we were more nervous, but it is great to compete here”.

Later on, in the press conference, he’ll be asked about a particular detail: finishing on bronze medal position only 0.01 of a point from the 4th place. “We saw the result – the order of results – and we were very happy that we got 3rd. At that point we hadn’t seen the exact scores – by the time we knew them, we were already satisfied with the result”.

What a difference 0.01 of a point can make
You wouldn’t have wanted to be in Vanessa James and Morgan Ciprès’ shoes after their free skate. And they didn’t want to be in their shoes either – only Vanessa found the strength to talk to the journalists in the mixed zone: “Of course we’re very disappointed. But there were just too many mistakes. I don’t know if it was the pressure of being first or skating last. I just don’t know. I had a lack of concentration on the first jump, but also the lifts were off. I just don’t know what happened. It just sucks, but it happens to the best. Now it’s back to work”.

And now let us rewind: leading after the short program, with a season’s best score (75.52 points), Vanessa and Morgan were the last to the take the ice in the pairs’ free skate at 2018 Europeans. Skating to “Say Something” and “Sense of Freedom” – and especially to that peculiar, obsessive line „Say something, I’m giving up on you” – you had the feeling, during their program, they too had given up on themselves. It had some highlights their performance – going for the throw quad Salchow, for example – but it was a rough skate overall, one they would want to forget.

“You know I love you”, coach John Zimmerman said, waiting for them at the boards. He surely hasn’t given up on them.

“We wanted to go Italian for the Olympic season”
Closing top 5 at this year’s edition of the Europeans were Italy’s Valentina Marchei and Ondrej Hotarek. And they feel so at home in the last group at major competitions – and we were moved by the beauty, lightness of their skate in Moscow.

Cinecittà awaits for both of them, I am tempted to say during their program to music from the movie “Amarcord”, composed by Nino Rota. That good, that convincing they are. And Valentina will talk about it minutes after their skate: “We always like to portray stories and we wanted to go Italian for the Olympic season”. And Ondrej will already look for improvements: “The performance was good, but we still have to work. We need more speed, more character. We want to do it really over the top”.


Vanessa James, Morgan Ciprès: “the best possible start for the Europeans”