Photo-stories from Graz (Part One): the men’s event

You know the outcome of the competition – Dmitri Aliev stood atop of the podium at this year’s edition of the Europeans, surrounded by teammate Artur Danielian (silver) and Georgia’s Morisi Kvitelashvili (bronze). And while you’re smiling looking at the medalists, arms in the air, flower bouquets in the air, we’re bringing you some of the action in the men’s event, as seen through the lens of Alberto Ponti, Inside Skating photographer in Graz.

And we’ll do the same with the rest of the disciplines, so, for now, enjoy – and look forward to the rest.


Not the best day for Vladimir Litvintsev’s jumps, but what an elegant skater he is. A great welcome from the audience in Steiermarkhalle as well.

Sondre Oddvoll Boe choreographed his “I Found You” short program – and what a nice job he did. Wonderful touches here and there, wonderful qualities his skating has. A flowing performance from Sondre in Europeans.

Alexey Bychenko opens group 5 at 2020 Europeans – he skates to “Words” by Harel Skaat. “I am not yet in the best shape, but am getting there”.

When Adam Siao Him Fa misses the Axel, coach Brian Joubert leaves his head down. But he has to know his student has amazing talent – Adam skates the rest of the program like he has nothing to lose. On his musicality, “I trained a lot on that with my choreographer and Marina (Anissina) to get better. It allows me to waste less energy during my programs”.

Michal Brezina is one with the Europeans, really – his personal history and European history intersect themselves for 13 years already. And people in the audience know that – and give Michal the welcome he deserves. “I feel good. There was a small mistake in a spin but the performance itself was great. From the marks, everyone enjoyed it. I felt good while performing as I was not concentrated on technical elements and I was just performing”.

A flying triple Axel to begin with and Aleksandr Selevko looks so lose, so relaxed, so into the music he skates to. As if he were drawing – and a skate that’s really addictive, like it was meant to, we are sure. Color us impressed.

Such a peculiar, airy performance from Daniel Grassl at 2020 Europeans – you can tell Benoît Richaud is the choreographer, and Benoit has gold in his hands, and he has been nurturing that talent for a while now.

This is Artur Danielian’s debut at the Europeans – and he’s taking us with him in Al Andalus, Belle Andalouse. And his program is so detailed, and he stays in the character until the very end. “I am so thrilled to be here, to skate at the Europeans, I tried to calm down before the skate. I owed myself a decent short program after Nationals, I still have a lot to improve after today’s skate”.

The technical content can either make Alexander Samarin or break him. And this time, the big guns, the quad Lutz, the quad Toe, weren’t really his allies.

Dmitri Aliev came to Graz as Russia’s national champion – and he did skate like a champion (and the landing of the Axel didn’t take away from the beauty of the program). “I was confident, it was a good skate”.

A couple of words of encouragement from Stéphane Lambiel – and Deniss Vasiljevs takes the ice for his short program. And every time he’s on the ice, Deniss takes us on a journey – and this was beautiful and soft in the first part, followed by the explosion in the second one. “In my heart, the main reason I am skating is this moment of joy that I can share with the crowd. Of course, technical aspects are taking a primary role, but last year I was thinking too much about it and it was not good for me. Now I have some more mental freedom. It keeps me smiling every day when I go to the practice”.

The pressure, the expectations might have played tricks with Kévin Aymoz’s mind – his jumps were all off on the short program day – but he still tried to perform the best as he could under the circumstances. Clearly not the Europeans he wanted, after the bronze in the Grand Prix Final. “I do not know what happened. I did not have more pressure than usual even if some announced me as one of the favorites for this competition – it is not the view I had about this event. Maybe too much stress or not enough, I can not explain. (…) I will do everything to show my real level at Worlds and show that today was just an exception”.

These are Morisi Kvitelashvili’s fourth Europeans and he skates to “Always Watching You” by Peter Cincotti in the short program. And even though the quad Toe didn’t work out as he wanted to, he is determined to change his luck in the free.

After a not so secure landing of the quad Toe, Matteo Rizzo made the most out of his “La La Land” short program. And we might have seen people around us praying for him to have a good skate here. “I want to skate a clean program tomorrow. Except the technical score, today’s score is not what I expected”.


Skating to “Exogenesis Symphony Part III” by Muse, a program choreographed by Mark Pillay, Sondre Oddvoll Boe really becomes one with the music. There, we said it: one of our favorite skaters to watch in the men’s event.

Adam Siao Him Fa: “Yesterday was a disaster, but I found motivation to deliver this performance. My coach [Brian Joubert] also helped me a lot. I felt lucky to have the chance to skate my free skate – I was sure I would not even qualify, but I got the chance to do it”.

Vladimir Litvintsev is a ballet dancer – and this music, “Hallelujah”, embraces him so well. Pure, beautiful skating from Vladimir at 2020 Europeans. “Now I’m going to prepare for the World Junior Championships and for Worlds in Montreal. (…) Yesterday I was watching the others at the arena and one of the journalists decided to do an interview with me. He asked if I’m a big fan of figure skating. My answer was quite obvious: Sure, I’m even going to go skating soon”.

Clearly, these were not Alexander Samarin’s Europeans – but he fought to stay in the program till the very end. He was visibly exhausted in the second part. “I popped a jump, and missed some. Just a huge thank to everyone who came here to support, who watches from home and to my team who work with me and support me. It’s not the skate I was looking for”.

There’s this nice quality of Mark Gorodnitsky’s skating – and that works so well with his free skate music, “Burnt by the Sun” by Sophie Salamon.

Gabriele Frangipani: “I am very happy about my performance, this is my best free skate for this season. My goal was to do my best and be in the Top 15, so I am happy”.

From the very first elements – quad Lutz, Quad Flip, quad Loop – you knew this was going to be special. Daniel Grassl is that special. And with all his jumping passes done, he is ready to fly and let himself carried away with the music. A standing ovation follows a brilliant program. And one of the big moments of these Europeans has just happened.

Matteo Rizzo’s flamenco has subtlety, has nuances, and such distinction. It warms your heart, it does.

Alexei Bychenko skates to music from “Pirates of the Caribbean”: “It’s one of my favorite movies, I love it. When I was a junior I had a program to a pirate movie, but I really wanted to skate this one. I like to tell a story in my program – every program I ever skated has a story. This program is fun, I try to use this music this season for pushing me forward”.

Aleksandr Selevko: “In my free program I perform three characters from Notre-Dame de Paris: the storyteller, the vagabond and Quasimodo. I enjoy the process of changing the roles and I do it according to my feelings”.

“I’m still standing”, Paul Fentz says through his skating, and he invites people in the audience to join in and cheer. And they do just that. “I enjoyed these Europeans since day one and there was a Happy End with 230 points, which is my new season’s best and also my personal best score. I couldn’t be happier. Today’s skate showed that hard work is always paying off at one point sooner or later”.

Right before entering the ice, Deniss Vasiljevs does a little bit of boxing with Stéphane Lambiel, to (maybe) get rid of some nerves and butterflies – and then he hands Stéphane his blade guards, a ceremonial gesture even. He seems at peace, relaxed – and we’ll see that on the ice as well. Watching Deniss create shapes in the air is definitely a highlight of these Europeans.

Morisi Kvitelashvili gave it all in his Adriano Celentano free skate at 2020 Europeans. This music really embraces his style of skating, his arms in the air. “My program is about a significant person in life. There is a picture of a woman on my costume. It depicts an image of a lover or ex-lover. It’s about looking for love, finding and losing it”.

“La Traviata” is a stunning music for skating – how we wish people would use it more often – and Artur Danielian is a wonderful skater to watch. Surely, these Europeans are just the beginning of his international skating journey.

“The generations change and there are new skaters to take the podium of the Europeans”, Dmitri said at the press conference after the short program. And this is Dmitri Aliev’s time, his time to shine – and exiting the ice, you see, he’s crying. “I somehow believed in myself and I am very happy that I was able to rely on myself”.

This is not how Michal Brezina envisioned the start of his program – but you know what, he made up for it in the second part, where he jumped and danced, to the much enthusiasm of the audience. That much he is loved – Europeans are Michal’s home. “I didn’t feel nervous, I just felt like I needed a minute more to get my feet under myself because I felt a little bit shaky, and everything at the beginning was rushed. Then, at the end, it was fine, it’s what I do everyday in practice. But it’s top ten again this year, for the 11th time. Who else can say that?”

The medalists – a portrait


2020 Europeans: golden competition for the Russian skaters