Photo-stories from Graz (Part Three): the ice dancing event

Europe crowned its new ice dance champions in January, when Russia’s Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov had the skates of their lives in Steiermarkhalle, the arena hosting 2020 Europeans, and outscored Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron by 0.14 of a point. Not the perfect ending of the competition for the five-time winners of the title – but one they mentioned it already turned into a lesson for the forthcoming Worlds. The podium was completed by last season’s silver medalists, Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin.

And until the next big competition – in Montreal, Canada, in the middle of March – indulge yourselves with the colours, the emotions of the ice dancing event at Europeans.

You are in for a treat – that we can tell you.


Evgeniia Lopareva and Geoffrey Brissaud: “This season was our first French Championships and then we went directly to Europeans! We are satisfied with our program, with our scores – we did not get all the levels we were expecting, but it will come with time. We are pretty good technically, the main part we can still improve is the second score, our connection, the choreography… But we are a good team, we support each other, so we never yet had any problem to deal with the pressure, even for such a big competition”.

Allison Reed and Saulius Ambrulevicius: “The performance itself was very good overall. (…) It’s been such a tough three weeks. We were doing double run-throughs, and trained so much in and off the ice. We just wanted to be 100% prepared mentally and physically for this competition. And it paid off”.

There’s lightness, there’s smoothness in Adelina Galyavieva and Louis Thauron’s skating – and power as well. And we think they have a great future ahead – a joy to watch them dance to “Mamma Mia”.

Italy’s Jasmine Tessari and Francesco Fioretti, skating to “Good Morning” and “Singin’ in the Rain” by Arthur Freed and Nacio Herb Brown

Alexandra Nazarova and Maxim Nikitin: “We are satisfied with our skate here, we were focused on our elements, we didn’t think about scores or places, we just wanted to show our work”.

Tiffani Zagorski and Jonathan Guerreiro: “We felt we could have skated better, but it’s not bad for the first day, tomorrow is a practice day and we hope to skate better on the last day”.

Natalia Kaliszek and Maksym Spodyriev: “It was not so bad, but we think we can do more. After the Grand Prix, we still had a lot of work to do to improve the quality of our elements”.

Oh, wow, Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson are really good and really fast – seen live, they’re even better. Plus: the explosiveness, the little touches here and there – a really convincing performance from them at 2020 Europeans.

We were looking forward to watching these two, Maria Kazakova and Georgyi Reviya – and you know what? They’re just amazing. This was one of the most expected debuts at the Europeans, and they didn’t disappoint a bit. On the contrary. Lightness, soft knees, beautiful lines – and a palpable love for skating.

“Vamos, chicos, con fuerza!”, a colleague in the press tribune screams – and Olivia Smart and Adrian Diaz attack their “Grease” rhythm dance like there was no other day. And let us tell you: this program is addictive, electrifying every arena it is skated into.

Charlène Guignard and Marco Fabbri: their skate is big. And they are born to twizzle. And the arena makes noise for them, coach Barbara Fusar Poli makes noise for them – they need to be proud of that skate at 2020 Europeans.

“Remember my name!”, the song says. But we don’t need (the song): we know their names by heart. Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron are dominating ice dance for a couple of seasons and they are here to stay. ’Cause they caught the moon in their hands. Guillaume: “We are very pleased, technically, the program was correct and the audience was with us. We had some fear at the beginning of the season with this program, being a bit vintage, but now we feel that most people love it”.

Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin tell you the (love) story from “Moulin Rouge” – and you believe them. And Alexandra is a beautiful, flowing Satine.

Watching Sara Hurtado and Kirill Khaliavin dance to “Hello, Dolly” is like watching a movie – a flowing, buttery skate from the two, and a good save on the first set of twizzles from Sara. “Promise you won’t go away”, the song says, and Victoria Sinitsina was singing it as well while heading for the boards – for their turn on the ice.

Stunning twizzles to begin their dance under the rain – and, for the next minutes, Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov are literally flying, with wonderful speed across the ice. They nailed this dance, they did. Victoria: “Europeans is one of the most important competitions for us. We never won a medal here and we wanted to skate clean all season and we want to improve. We have been training very well since the New Year”.


Maria Kazakova and Georgyi Reviya are a wonderful breath of fresh air. Their journey at the Europeans – we watched it with eyes amazed. Lots of potential and promise in this partnership, winning big medals on the junior circuit. Maria: “We want to use the opportunity to skate in both juniors and seniors this season and to enjoy every moment of it”.

Alexandra Nazarova and Maxim Nikitin: two sailors on the sea, dancing a dance that’s joyful, playful, and relaxed. And bearing so many of their trademark moves. Alexander Zhulin’s arms are in the air at the end. Alexandra: “We are happy with our skate, the championship is over, we didn’t make any major mistakes, the coaches praised us. We are satisfied with the program today”.

And for a couple of minutes there were two Carmens in the Europeans’ arena – there was Adelina Galyavieva, of course, on the ice with her partner Louis Thauron; and then there was Anjelika Krylova, the fiery Carmen from 1998 Olympics. And the green color of the dress was Adelina’s idea – we know it from Bergamo (they started their season at Lombardia Trophy). Adelina: “We thought a lot about which music we should take and we also wanted to be the French number two. We knew we would need two strong characters. Carmen is indeed one of the most difficult themes. But we decided to take a different approach, no flowers in my hair and no red dress and the well known Spanish moves”.

“One day, I got in”, this might be a defining line of these championships: Daria Pavliuchenko and Denis Kodykin “got in” the pairs event the other day, and went home with a medal, while in ice dance, Egveniia Lopareva and Geoffrey Brissaud want to make their entrance onto the big stage as well.

Jasmine Tessari and Francesco Fioretti, skating to “Lullaby of the Leaves” and “Jazz Man” by Beth Hart

Let it remain written: Spain is so lucky to have two amazing ice dance teams – Olivia Smart and Adrian Diaz opened the penultimate group at 2020 Europeans and took our hearts with them. We’ve seen the joy, the red noses – and we also felt the sadness. “Happiness is like rain”, we kept repeating for days. Adrian: “The most important is that we have good programs this year. After winning Nationals we were extra motivated – we did two good performances. We just want to improve all the time. Results in general – they matter, but you should focus on the present and not see the past”.

It’s a full house for the dance final and audience had the time of their lives with this “Dirty Dancing” free dance – Natalia Kaliszek and Maksym Spodyriev came back to it this season, making it almost a trademark.

We’ll say it – and you better believe us: Allison Reed and Saulius Ambrulevicius have an exquisite package in this free dance. No wonder it has become addictive for so many of the skating fans.

We’ll tell you a secret: we know this free dance by heart – this flamenco free dance with a contemporary twist, choreographed by Antonio Najarro and brought to life by Sara Hurtado and Kirill Khaliavin. There’s magic in there – and if you want to know how magic is made, do read our interview with Sara and Kirill.

“Strike a pose” – and Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson’s free dance is made of tens of wonderful poses. And it’s a joy to be in an arena who reacts like that to a dance. House on fire at 2020 Europeans. Lilah: “The crowd really kept us going especially when clapping towards the end and it gave us that little push – it was so uplifting. We just love to entertain. I know, that’s the thing with the dance couples, but we love to pick the crowd pleasers”. Who chooses the music? Lilah laughs: “My mom! She’s done a pretty good job so far and Lewis is also very involved”. #discoBrits

Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin have made really convincing this dance under the rain. Especially the last part, skated with so much power and conviction. Alexandra: “I’m happy that we did well today. And want to say thanks once more to all the people who cheered for us. I don’t know exactly what we received for the technical part, but emotionally it was great”.

The rhythm of this “Survivor” free dance is insane – Tiffani Zagorski and Jonathan Guerreiro outdid themselves in Graz. A dance that takes your attention and runs with it. They’re exhausted at the end – but the efforts were all worth it.

Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov seem like a completely new team this season – Victoria, in particular: they look so at ease, so relaxed, so happy. Yes, these are the words – they exude happiness, they’re showing it to the fullest. Victoria: “We want to improve and show the program from the very beginning to the end in full force. Of course we did the best now as well, but we want that diamond to shine”.

Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron sit in the middle of the rink waiting for their names to be called. As if the world were theirs, nothing disturbs them. And for the next minutes, the world is indeed theirs. And we’re just privileged they let us in from time to time. Small errors aside, it remained an addictive, emotional performance at 2020 Europeans. Guillaume: “We felt we had made mistakes during the program so we kind of already knew the final result – we are disappointed with our results, but happy with our performance. Every moment on this ice is unique”.

The wait has been long for Charlène Guignard and Marco Fabbri – but they manage to pull themselves and skate their spatial free dance in full force. And they take you with them from the very first seconds. Marco: “In the first half of the season, we couldn’t perform really well, so we want to keep up the good work and be readier for the World Championships”.

Ice dance podium at 2020 Europeans

2020 Europeans have been a wonderful competition for Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov – they finished it with beaming smiles and gold medals rewarding their efforts

When the spotlights are off, and the medalists’ press conference has ended as well, Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron stay for another couple of minutes in front of the journalists, dissecting the performance, explaining and making plans for Worlds.

[photos by Alberto Ponti and Wilma Alberti/Graz]


2020 Europeans: golden competition for the Russian skaters

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

Photo-stories from Graz (Part Two): the pairs event