Photo-stories from Graz (Part Four): the ladies event

Alena Kostornaia, Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova have been dominating the skating world this season – their first season in seniors – and there were no doubts they would conquer the podium at 2020 Europeans as well.

And they did not disappoint in Graz and their journey at the Europeans can be very well summarized with the historical line “Veni, vidi, vici”: Alena won the gold, Anna, the silver, Alexandra, the bronze.

This photo-story highlights their feats, but not just that: the tens of pictures following are, in fact, a celebration of ladies skating, and you will see that for yourselves in the next couple of minutes. That diverse is the European skating, that rich, that interesting – and we are sharing with you parts of the event, as seen through the lens of Alberto Ponti, Inside Skating photographer in Graz.


Anastasiya Galustyan, skating to “Je t’aime”, performed by Lara Fabian

Eva-Lotta Kiibus: “I can’t say that this was my best short, I can do much, much better. But nevertheless I am happy with how I managed to skate here”. Her choice of music for the short program: “House of the Rising Sun”, performed by Heavy Young Heathens (“The Magnificent Seven”); choreo. by Benoît Richaud.

Daša Grm, skating to “Bloodstream” by Tokio Myers

Ekaterina Kurakova: “I love it here, it’s my first Europeans ever, I made a long journey to make it here and I just enjoy every moment. I am satisfied about my performance, and so are my coaches – I was focused, I did all I had to do. I’m at the Europeans! Amazing! But I was able to relax and do my job”. Ekaterina skates this season to “La vie en rose” performed by Edith Piaf.

Natasha McKay, skating to “Song for the Little Sparrow” by Abel Korzeniowski

Alexandra Feigin: “I was born in Israel, but I live in Bulgaria since my early childhood and I represent this country for all my career. I have been coached by Andrei Lutai for 11 years already. Our training base is in Sofia”. Alexandra skates this season to music from “Schindler’s List” and “Horizons” by Ashram.

Emmi Peltonen on her short program to “Caruso” by Lucio Dalla, performed by Jacki Evancho: “I love this program, I never felt so comfortable skating to a song. (…) I’ve always just skated for myself, not to impress anyone but because I love skating, and this is what I do, and it gets me these amazing moments. Tomorrow I’ll just enjoy, I can’t wait for my free”.

Anita Östlund: “Europeans in 2018 were my first big international competition. Now it is my third Europeans, I have more experience, it was more difficult back then, I was more nervous. My objective is to skate as best as I can, like I do at practice”.

Eliška Březinová: “I’m really happy to be here today. I skated clean enough, but it was just a half of me. Since Worlds last year I was injured most of the time. I came back for full practice just three weeks ago”.

Maé-Bérénice Méité: “I had so much fun today. There was a triple-triple combination and I got a seasons best score. My program is already fun, but performing it in front of many people is just amazing. I feel like in Brazil during the Carnival”.

Ivett Tóth: “This was my short program in 2017 and I qualified with it to the Olympic Games. This season was up and down, and on Christmas time we had a couple of shows and I performed this program. That’s why I felt really confident in it. My coach suggested me to take it back and I liked the idea of it. Sometimes I may be stressed and Michael Jackson helps me to relax”.

Anna Shcherbakova is a fantastic story teller. We’ll say it again – her ability, her talent to portray a story is a thing of beauty. She is so into her “Perfume” short program. Glorious performance to start the final group of ladies at 2020 Europeans. “I am always nervous during the competition – it helps to show myself better and, yes, the first senior season is hard”.

Alena Kostornaia is not skating, she is flying, she is floating. There’s this lightness in everything she does on the ice – and she does great, amazing things. What a skate from Alena in Graz, colour us impressed – as we have been the whole season. “I skate my short program for the second season and of course as far as I’m growing the program is growing with me. I can interpret the character better. But the character itself is still the same. It is an angel who came to earth and got a chance to return back in the end of the story”.

Nicole Schott: “For a long time already, my coach and I said I should skate in a leotard, but first, we needed to find an adequate music and we found this rocking blues”. Nicole is skating to “Caught Out in the Rain” by Beth Hart and James House.

Ekaterina Ryabova: “Everything was performed on an approximately good level. There were a couple of small mistakes, but they were seen only by judges and were not easy to spot for the audience. I’m satisfied with my short program”. She skates to “Tango de Roxanne”.

Alexandra Trusova is all about straight lines, strength and fierceness. And “Peer Gynt” is such a good music for her, it highlights her power. “I want the hardest possible content – otherwise I will make mistakes on the easier things”.

A smooth, cheeky, playful performance from Alexia Paganini at 2020 Europeans – her coach “skated” as well behind the boards. A wow-skate even. “I was really happy with my performance. I was actually pretty nervous, more than usual I think, because I really prepared the best ever going into this competition and I really, really wanted to deliver here”. And she did. And “Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen” is such a wonderful choice of music.

Small medals ceremony after the short program


Alexandra Feigin, skating to music from the movie “Grand Hotel Budapest” and “Passagers” by Les 7 Doigts

France’s Maïa Mazzara, skating to “Beethoven’s Silence” by Ernesto Cortazar II

Daša Grm, skating to “Pretty Hurts” by Beyonce, “Only The Winds” by Olafur Arnalds, “I Was Here” by Beyonce

So much softness in Ekaterina Kurakova’s arm movements – she’s like a sparkling butterfly. And so much presence – we see talent, we see potential in Brian Orser’s new student. “I came to Brian and it was a sheer happiness to have a coach, and such a coach! The long program – Brian picked the music, it’s a ballet (Le Corsaire), it’s a slow music, which is a new thing for me – I always skated to very fast pieces, but now he gave me a chance to skate to something slow”.

Nicole Schott: “I just want to put this behind me and move on. This was the worst competition of the season and it’s such a pity that it happened at Europeans. It was a mix of different things why it didn’t happen. The preparation in the last two weeks was not as it should have been. I was fighting with myself, with my head, since after the injury. It affected me more mentally than physically, I was for sure less confident coming here. I am only human”.

Linnea Ceder: “I felt pretty good today. The atmosphere was very nice, I am just happy to be here. I have Nordics in one week and a half, and then I am looking at Junior Worlds”.

Eva-Lotta Kiibus: “I feel amazing, it was such an experience, I felt so good, I skated with my heart. The music was brought by my choreographer Benoît Richaud”. Eva-Lotta is skating to “Histoire d’un amour”, performed by Helene Segara.

Lea Serna: “I wanted to be proud of me, but I always do the short program well and miss the free skate. It is not about pressure or stress, because then the mistakes would have been in the first jumps. It is not about the difficulty as well, because we made it easier – I just never succeed to do the second part of my program well enough”.

Alina Urushadze: “Honestly, I don’t have any words. I have many underrotated jumps, but I felt pretty good during the program, I don’t know why this happened. I will work more and improve my jumps”.

Anita Östlund: “I performed my best short program of the season yesterday. Can’t say the same about my free skating. The fall in the beginning was unexpected. I’ve already landed the jump and slipped right after that. I changed the jump combination, because the order I planned didn’t work at the warm up”.

Maé-Bérénice Méité: “It was a big step forward compared to the beginning of the season. I was better prepared physically. I am really happy that overall I was able to put down two solid performances. Of course many things could have been better and I still need to work a lot. Indeed there were a few quite costly mistakes. But generally speaking, I am really relieved. Scores are rather good too. For the future, I would love to hit 190 or even 200 points. I would also like to be in the Top 10 at next year’s Worlds in order to get two spots for France at the next Olympics”.

Alessia Tornaghi: “I learned a lot, I liked it and I hope I get to compete here again. I’m not pleased with my free program, my goal was to make the Top 10, so at least I did that, but it was far from my best performances and I hope next time I will do better”.

Ekaterina Ryabova: “I tried to do my best today, unfortunately I had some mistakes but I am glad that I kept me placement in the Top 6”.

Those arms in the air, that punctuated Ina Bauer, the spins, the overall quality of her skate, the power of her jumps – Emmi Peltonen is an incredible talent. She is. With more consistent jumps she could be in the top many years from now. Artistically, she is already there. “I really love this free [to “Vinegar and Salt” by Hooverphonic] and I enjoy my skate every time I go out. It was a really good moment here. I have been working on staying calmer and trust what I can do”.

Skating to “La La Land”, Alexia Paganini is a joy to the eyes. “I worked so hard over the year and I really wanted to deliver it – the program wasn’t perfect, but I’m happy with that. Those are the results I wanted. Coming here, I was realistic – no one can touch the Russians – and that was the best result we could have hoped for, I’m happy to fulfill that”.

We are amazed with Anna Shcherbakova, we are – and missing the third quad didn’t derail her at all. It didn’t disrupt her sprint of joy, of playfulness. We like that about her – staying in the story till the end, selling everything to the end. But, of course, Anna always asks more of herself: “I was surprised and upset, the beginning was so good, the first jumps were so good, but then the emotions went down because I was not raising the program, so it was not what I was looking for. (…) I’m happy but I need to work more”.

It was more of a fight from Alexandra Trusova in her free skate at 2020 Europeans – but is she brave to try everything out there? She is – and we admire her for that. Athleticism to the fullest. “After Nationals I was told never cry even if something goes wrong like today [two falls on quads]. So now I am learning how to perform well after that. I don’t think that’s a kind of technical thing. It’s mostly a mental question. I want to do my best, but it doesn’t work sometimes. Anyway, I want to keep on jumping all the quads whatever will be going on”.

A silly mistake from Alena Kostornaia towards the end of the program, but the rest is just great. Seen live, her skating is even more impressive. She looks disappointed when exiting the ice, but minutes later her disappointment will turn into joy; seeing the scores, she realizes she is the 2020 European champion. “I didn’t think I would be a European champion. I’m happy, it’s a real surprise. My free program had a few mistakes and I’m happy I was able to do it all, I thought I would give myself hardly a C (grade), but am happy it happened so fast and so suddenly – on my first season”. Falling on the triple Lutz, “I imagined now I’m going to lose by something like 0.03 points, so I just continued to skate my best”.

Singing the anthem on a voice


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

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