Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri of Italy compete in the Ice Dance Rhythm Dance © ISU
Italy’s two-time European bronze medalists Charlene Guignard/Marco Fabbri found the right rhythm to take a slim lead in the Rhythm Dance. ISU Grand Prix Finalists Lilah Fear/Lewis Gibson of Great Britain are less than 1.5 points behind in second place. To the delight of the home crowd, Finnish dancers Juulia Turkkila/Matthias Versluis came third in the segment.
Guignard/Fabbri put out a dynamic performance to the Samba “This Is”, Rhumba “I’m Crying” and Salsa “Cuba”, executing precise step sequences, excellent twizzles and a rotational lift. The ISU Grand Prix Final bronze medalists collected a level four for the twizzles and the lift, while the midline step sequence and the pattern dance steps were graded a level three. The Italian Champions earned 85.53 points for their effort.
Guignard made it clear what their goal is: “The gold medal. We are here for this medal. That is what we fight for,” she said.
“We know we are close to the British couple, but we try not to think about it. Tomorrow we just want to skate our best like we did today.”
Fabbri was pleased with the Rhythm Dance.
“It was a really nice performance for us, we felt from the beginning really comfortable on the ice. The audience helped us a lot, it’s nice when you have an audience supporting you from the first second to the last.
“We were very happy with our performance, and this is why we also hoped for a little higher score, but it’s OK.“
Fear/Gibson entertained the crowd at the Metro Areena in Espoo with their Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez inspired medley that featured a level-four rotational lift and twizzles. The pattern dance step sequence and the midline steps merited a level three and two. The British Champions scored 84.12 points.
Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson of Great Britain compete in the Ice Dance Rhythm Dance at Espoo © ISU
“It was so electric out there. The crowd immediately got into the program, and we could feel their support and energy, and it was just so uplifting and an honor for us,” Fear said.
“The competition is at a pretty high level this year. We always want the gold medal in life. Take that as a metaphor if you want. We want to do our best, and where that has us, it's hopefully gold,” she added.
Turkkila/Versluis’ performance to Samba and Rhumba was highlighted by their curve lift and fast twizzles.
The ISU Grand Prix Espoo bronze medalists picked up a level four for the lift and a level three for the twizzles, to set a new personal best of 77.56 points.
Finland's Juulia Turkkila and Matthias Versluis in the Ice Dance Rhythm Dance event at Espoo © ISU
They are the first Finnish Ice Dancers since the 1995 ISU European Champions Susanna Rahkamo/Petri Kokko to be in a medal position at an ISU Championship. However, the team from Helsinki tries not to think about that too much right now.
“We try to focus on tomorrow and not really think about the medal yet,” Versluis said.
“We want to show our best, this is the most important thing, and we want to enjoy this special opportunity,” Turkkila said.
The Free Dance on Saturday promises to be an exciting event with the top teams being very close. Less than 1.5 points separate the leading two teams, and there is just a little over one point between the couples ranked third to sixth.
Allison Reed/Saulius Ambruvelicius (LTU) are currently ranked fourth at 77.33 points followed by Natalie Taschlerova/Filip Taschler (CZE) at 76.91 points and ISU Grand Prix de France bronze medalists Evgeniia Lopareva/Geoffrey Brissaud (FRA) in sixth with 76.49 points.
Following the IOC recommendation and in order to protect the integrity of ice skating competitions and for the safety of all the participants of international ice skating competitions, the ISU Council based on Article 17.1.q)i) of the ISU Constitution, agreed that with immediate effect and until further notice, no Skaters belonging to the ISU Members in Russia (Russian Skating Union and the Figure Skating Federation of Russia) and Belarus (Skating Union of Belarus) shall be invited or allowed to participate in International ice skating competitions including ISU Championships and other ISU Events. The same applies to Officials listed in the respective ISU Communications and/or Regulations under Russia and Belarus (see ISU Communication 2469).
Schedule of the event
The schedule of the European Figure Skating Championships is as follows:
Wednesday, January 25: Pairs & Men’s Short Programs
Thursday, January 26: Women’s Short Program, Pairs Free Skating
Friday, January 27: Rhythm Dance & Men’s Free Skating
Saturday, January 28: Women’s Free Skating & Free Dance
Sunday, January 29: Exhibition Gala
Where to watch the ISU European Figure Skating Championships 2023:
The ISU European Figure Skating Championships will be live streamed on the Skating ISU YouTube Channel. Geo-restrictions will apply in markets where TV rights are in place. You will find the full list in the Where to Watch news here.
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