The ISU European Figure Skating Championships 2018 will open in Moscow, Russia, on January 17. Moscow has hosted the ISU European Figure Skating Championships only once before in 1965, but has hosted ISU World Figure Skating Championships in 2005 and 2011.
167 skaters from 35 ISU members have been entered for this 111th edition of the European Championships: 37 Men, 40 Ladies, 14 Pair Skating couples and 31 Ice Dance couples.
Skaters/couples need to have obtained a minimum total technical score in Short Program and Free Skating in order to compete at the European Championships. All four reigning European Champions are back and hope to defend their title.
Overview of the top contenders
Russia tops the European Championships medal table with a total of 319 medals, including 112 gold medals, is expecting a successful medal haul on home ice. However, top skaters from France, Italy and Spain will not make it easy for the Russians.
In the Men’s event, two-time World Champion Javier Fernandez (ESP) has been the uncontested leader in Europe since 2013 when he won the first of his five consecutive European titles. Although he missed out on qualifying for the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final, Fernandez holds the highest season’s best score of the European men with 283.71 points. Russian Champion and reigning European bronze medalist Mikhail Kolyada, 22, poses probably the biggest threat to the 26-year-old Spaniard. Kolyada has been on the rise, qualified for his first ISU Grand Prix Final where he earned the bronze medal and achieved a seasons best of 282.00 points. Several other men have set their eyes on the podium as well including Jorik Hendrickx (BEL/seasons best 253.06), who was ranked fourth a year ago at the European Championships, 2016 European silver medalist Alexei Bychenko (ISR/seasons best 252.07), World Junior bronze medalist Alexander Samarin (RUS/seasons best 253.13), World Junior silver medalist Dmitri Aliev (RUS/239.61), Moris Kvitelashvili (GEO/250.26) and Michal Brezina (CZE/237.04).
In the Ladies event, Evgenia Medvedeva (RUS) is looking for a third consecutive European title in her hometown. However, the two-time World Champion had to sit out the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final as she recovered from injury. She still tops the seasons best list with 231.21 points and is back to full training according to Russian Figure Skating Federation president Alexander Gorshkov. ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final Champion Alina Zagitova (RUS) will debut at the European Championships and has her eyes set firmly on the podium (seasons best 223.30). ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final silver medalist Maria Sotskova (RUS/seasons best 216.28) could help the Russian ladies to sweep the podium. Russia swept the Ladies podium at Europeans five times in the past since 1999. However, five-time European Champion Carolina Kostner (ITA/seasons best 215.98) can spoil the Russian party. Other competitors include Nicole Schott (GER), Mae Berenice Meite (FRA) and Nicole Rajicova (SVK).
In the Pairs, reigning European Champions Evgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (RUS) are up against teammates Ksenia Stolbova/Fedor Klimov. Tarasova/Morozov scored a seasons best of 224.25 points and Stolbova/Klimov have 222.74 points. 2017 European bronze medalists Vanessa James/Morgan Cipres (FRA/seasons best 214.37) want to challenge the Russian pairs on home ice. Other contenders include Natalia Zabiiako/Alexander Enbert (RUS), Nicole Della Monica/Matteo Guarise (ITA) and Valentina Marchei/Ondrej Hotarek (ITA). ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final Champions Aljona Savchenko/Bruno Massot (GER) have withdrawn from the event on Friday, stating that they want to focus on their preparation for the Olympic Winter Games.
Two-time World Champions Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron (FRA) seem poised for a fourth consecutive European title in the Ice Dance event, especially since winning the Grand Prix Final and setting a new record score of 202.16 points en route. The battle for the podium will be tough though, with multiple European medalists Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte (ITA/seasons best 186.56) and Ekaterina Bobrova/Dmitri Soloviev (RUS/186.66) as well as 2015 European bronze medalists Alexandra Stepanova/Ivan Bukin (RUS/179.35) leading the charge. Charlene Guignard/ Marco Fabbri (ITA), 2014 European bronze medalists Penny Coomes/Nicholas Buckland (GBR) and newcomers Tiffany Zagorski/Jonathan Guerreiro (RUS) want to get as close as possible to the podium.
Please note that for the seasonal best total scores only the ISU Grand Prix competitions (senior and junior) and ISU Challenger Series events have been taken into consideration, not other international competitions or National Championships.
The ISU awards a global prize money of US$ 289,500 at the ISU European Figure Skating Championships to single skaters placed 1st to 8th, to pair skating couples placed 1st to 5th and Ice Dance Couples placed 1st to 6th. The prize money is awarded as follows:
Men and Ladies Pairs and Dance (per couple)
1st place US$ 20,000 1st place US$ 30,000
2nd place US$ 13,000 2nd place US$ 19,500
3rd place US$ 8,000 3rd place US$ 12,000
4th place US$ 6,500 4th place US$ 9,750
5th place US$ 5,000 5th place US$ 7,500
6th place US$ 4,000 6th place US$ 6,000 (only Ice Dance)
7th place US$ 3,500
8th place US$ 3,000
The schedule of the ISU European Figure Skating Championships 2018 is as follows:
Wednesday, January 17: Men’s & Pairs Short Program
Thursday, January 18: Ladies Short Program, Pairs Free Skating
Friday, January 19: Short Dance, Men’s Free Skating
Saturday, January 20: Free Dance, Ladies Free Skating
Sunday, January 21: Exhibition Gala
For more information, full entry lists and results please see: www.isu.org and the official event website http://moscowec2018.ru/ . Follow the discussion on social media using #EuroFigure.