Russia’s World silver medalists Victoria Sinitsina/Nikita Katsalapov upset five-time and defending European Champions Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron of France to take their first European title at the ISU European Figure Skating Championships in Graz (AUT) on Saturday. Alexandra Stepanova/Ivan Bukin, also from Russia, claimed the bronze, their fourth European medal.
Ice Dance Podium at the ISU European Figure Skating Championships 2020©International Skating Union (ISU)
Sinitsina/Katsalapov delivered a smooth and fluid dance to “Songs My Mother Taught Me” by Anton Dvorak, completing intricate steps and beautiful lifts. The 2019 World silver medalists collected a level four for the twizzles, the lifts and the spin while the one foot step sequence was rated a level four and three and the serpentine step sequence a level three. The Russian Champions posted a new personal best of 131.69 points and totaled 220.42 points to overtake the leading French team and win by just 0.14 points. Sinitsina/Katsalapov are the first Russian Ice Dance team to claim gold at the European Championships since Ekaterina Bobrova/Dmitri Soloviev won in 2013.
“Vika and I on our day off while we only had the practice and this morning we were not focusing on taking something, but to show our performance, show our program the way we trained and if possible skate clean and show all we can. I think we did that today and we are so happy. I can't say we expected to be sitting in the middle,“ Katsalapov noted. “To get anywhere near Gabriella (Papadakis) and Guillaume (Cizeron) seemed impossible for all the skaters. But we are all athletes and everyone who works and improves every day,” he continued.
Victoria SINITSINA / Nikita KATSALAPOV (RUS) at the ISU European Figure Skating Championships 2020©International Skating Union (ISU)
Papadakis/Cizeron gave another stunning performance of their poetic dance to “Find Me” by Forest Blakk and music by Olafur Arnalds. The four-time World Champions collected a level four for their lifts, twizzles and the spin. However, the one foot step sequence garnered a level two for her and a level three for him. The five-time European Champions scored 131.50 points and slipped to second at 220.28 points.
“We knew the competition was very close so yes, we knew we didn't have room for mistakes and we made them,” Papadakis admitted. “We were happy with the performance and how we dealt with the competition and the stress. It's our 7th European Championships and we won five of them which is huge we are already very proud and especially proud of how we did this week. We can't always win and we accept it, it's a lesson for us that we probably needed. We can't wait to work and improve for the Worlds,” she added.
Gabriella PAPADAKIS / Guillaume CIZERON (FRA) at the ISU European Figure Skating Championships 2020©International Skating Union (ISU)
Stepanova/Bukin’s danced to “Experience” by Ludovico Einaudi and “Cry Me a River” featured excellent twizzles and lifts as well. The 2019 European silver medalists picked up a personal best with 127.64 points and accumulated 211.29 points overall to move up from fourth to third place.
“Last year, we were silver medalist, so bronze this year, I wouldn’t say it is a step back as the competition was extremely tough. We are pleased that we are on the podium. Most of all we’re happy that we skated well and with emotions,” Bukin said. “We were enjoying the other couples’ performances. We are so happy for Vika (Sinitsina) and Nikita (Katsalapov), it has been long since Russia won the Ice Dance event. But we also love the French, Gabriella (Papadakis) and Guillaume (Cizeron) and wish them the very best,” he continued.
Alexandra STEPANOVA / Ivan BUKIN (RUS) at the ISU European Figure Skating Championships 2020©International Skating Union (ISU)
2019 European bronze medalists Charlene Guignard/ Marco Fabbri (ITA) turned in a solid performance to “Space Oddity” and “Major Tom”, but dropped from third to fourth at 205.58 points. 2019 Skate Canada bronze medalists Lilah Fear/Lewis Gibson (GBR) pulled up one spot to fifth at 192.34 points with an upbeat Madonna Medley. Tiffani Zagorski/Jonathan Guerreiro (RUS) finished sixth with 188.03 points.
The schedule of the ISU European Figure Skating Championships 2020 is as follows:
Saturday, January 25: Free Dance, Ladies Free Skating
Sunday, January 26: Exhibition Gala
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