The 2012 ISU European Figure Skating Championships opened in Sheffield, Great Britain, on Monday with the Preliminary Rounds for Ice Dance and Men. The Preliminary Rounds take place before the official competition starts. In total 28 Men (17 Direct entries and 11 Preliminary Round entries and 20 Ice Dance couples (12 Direct entries and 8 Preliminary Round entries) compete in the Short Program. As there are 19 entries in the Pairs event in total, no Preliminary Round is necessary.
Ice Dance, Preliminary Round
19 couples competed in the Preliminary Round. Julia Zlobina/Alexei Sitnikov (AZE) came first ahead of Charlene Guignard/Marco Fabbri of Italy and Ukraine's Siobhan Heekin-Canedy/Dmitri Dun.
Zlobina/Sitnikov produced a smooth dance to Derap and Aquarelle by Rene Aubry to earn a score of 81.55 points. They picked up a level four for five out of the seven elements. It was exactly the nice, clean performance we were looking for, Zlobina commented. We haven't fully realized it yet that we are finally here (at our first European Championships). We have hoped for it and worked for it and it means that all our work in these past years wasn't in vain, she added.
Dancing to The Godfather, Guignard/Fabbri were a little shaky on the twizzles but their other elements were solid. The National silver medallists scored 74.34 points. We had a very good skate. We like it here very much. We like the atmosphere, the ice, the rink. Yesterday the ice was quite new and we didn't feel it as well but today was very good. The qualifying round is hard, worse than the main competition. We're looking forward to the competition now and feel very calm about it, Fabbri said.
Heekin-Canedy/Dun turned in a solid performance to Notre Dame de Paris and posted 73.10 points.
Men, Preliminary Round
Evgeni Plushenko of Russia easily won the Men's Preliminary Round followed by Romania's Zoltan Kelemen and Maciej Cieplucha of Poland.
Skating to Tango de Roxanne, Plushenko landed a shaky quad toe, two triple Axels and three more triples to score 157.52 points. I think this is the hardest one (competition) in my life. I had meniscus surgery at the beginning of the season, but I am still in pain. I need another surgery.The performance today wasn't my best, but for today it was good and I am happy with it, Plushenko said. Actually competing in the Preliminaries is very good for me, it is an extra run-through of my program. It was very important for me to go for the quad today, because I don't know how my knee reacts, it can be different each time. Also I pulled a muscle the other day in practice on the quad and I couldn't turn my head. To be honest, yesterday I wasn't sure if I could skate today. Actually I am proud of myself for skating today the way I did, he continued.
Kelemen put out two triple Axels and four other triples in his routine to Pearl Harbour. He collected 114.64 points. The program went alright. I need to work on the triple toe at the beginning of the program. But it is only preliminaries so it does not have to be at the top level. My goal for the competition is to be in the top 18 - and that next year I am not in the Preliminaries, Kelemen commented.
Cieplucha's routine to the Brazil soundtrack included a triple Lutz-triple toe combination and three more triples, but he underrotated a loop and doubled two other jumps. He earned 108.53 points. It was not the best I could do. I was a little bit stressed . My goal for this competition is to skate clean, show my face and all the elements I can do, the Polish Champion explained.
Jason Thompson (GRB) was ranked 13th in the Preliminary Round but still advanced to the Short Program as the representative of the host country. As a result, there will be 29 skaters in the Short Program on Thursday and Thompson has starting number one.
Ari-Pekka Nurmenkari (FIN) withdrew during his performance as he twisted his right lower leg on a fall.