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The European figure skating championships
The European Figure Skating Championships kicked off in Tallinn on January 11. While it hardly has any sports-related plots, there are enough sports-related themes. Read more in Realnoe Vremya’s report.
The European Figure Skating Championships in Tallinn seem to be both and paradoxically important and insignificant. It is important from the point of view of a specific situation when a number of competitions have been canceled, for example, the Grand Prix Final and the Universiade where figure skaters could compete, the Ice Hockey World Championship IIHF U20 has been suspended. From this perspective, European figure skating would be in danger, but the federation had the courage to leave it on the agenda, while Estonia decided to host it. It’s good that this country has never had a team as strong as Arlet Levandi and Eva-Lotta Kiibus. Clearly they are only strong for Estonia, but believe me, even a place in the top 10 will be accepted very positively in this country where, by the way, Natalia Zabiyako was born and started to skate. Estonia could also qualify for the Olympic team event in Beijing but have not found the necessary number of competitors, although I will discuss this in detail later.
For the International Federation, it was important to host this tournament because it had not taken place in 2021, and now some winners and medalists of the previous 2020 European Championships are seen as an anachronism. Champions Alyona Kostornaya and Dmitry Aliyev, finalist Artur Daniyelyan are already out of the game, and the torrent of information threatens to erase them from fans forever, while figure skating just needs recognizable individuals. If not, what is the meaning of this chaos when the age limit is lifted for skaters to compete internationally. By the way, Norway is the initiator of the change – they delegated a competitor Linnea Kilsand to the European Championships with a titanic effort. Otherwise, the situation seemed both comical and catastrophic, the national federation only exists as an author of “legislative initiatives”, not as a full competitor.
How bad luck is Estonia
A series of refusals from the contestants provide a basis for sympathizing with Estonian fans and not just the fans. Some refusals are reasonable. France’s ice dancers Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron announced long ago that they would miss the European Championships in the name of the Olympics. In addition, they fell at the national championships, which does not add to the optimism. The refusal of the Italian duo Nicole Della Monica and Matteo Guarise is not justified from a sporting point of view because they have no Olympic hope, except for the team event. In Europe, they finish in the top 4 and even dream of medals if some of the Russian duos fail.
Potential competitors lack representatives from Israel (sorry Alexey Bychenko), Italian skater Matteo Rizzo (could win a medal), England pair Zoe Jones and Christopher Boyadji (they may have decided to celebrate the 41st birthday, January 14, at home). Mikhail Kolyada was injured and Andrey Mozalyov, bronze medalist of the Russian championships, will replace him.
In terms of illnesses and injuries, there may be questions, but the policy dispositions of other people who refused to compete are not pretty. In the end, the tickets for the tournament will be sold, their price will not go down because almost all the disciplines of figure skating have losses. For example, not many people will be happy to see a game between Barcelona and Real on the bill but U-23 players from Barca and Castilla.
Think about china
The competitors and the schedule for the team event in figure skating will begin at the Olympics have been announced. This time the program is different from the Sochi 2014 and Pyeongchang 2018 competitions. Previously, the program was as follows: the men start with their short program, their duets were on the ice, then the women, ice dance, but the duets started their free skate. , then the men, women competed, the ice dancers finished the competition.
What has changed now is that the ice dancers have been placed first in both the short and free skate. The men, ice dancers and couples will compete on February 4, women will finish the short program on February 6 and the couples will start the free program on the same day. The last day of the team event is February 7 – Men’s, Ice Dancing and Women’s Singles. Fans of conspiracy theories earlier speculated that the changes were made because the Chinese hosts were relying on their number one pair Sui Wenjing and Han Cong to score reserve points for the team. But we have the impression that they will not participate at all in the team event. Strategically, their task is to become Olympic champions in pairs by focusing on that as much as possible. While the Chinese team will likely not qualify to skate with five pairs in the free skate. However, the forecast is about to be made later.
For the first time without France
The team event in 2022 will be different from the previous ones in terms of registration. France is not on the list for the first time because the rules of the team competition say that only one team with each discipline is qualified for it. Besides France, the teams from South Korea and Estonia which are in the world top 10 have also suffered, but they do not have athletes in all disciplines.
However, this rule was not always followed. In the last Olympics, South Korea got a pass, Israel and Japan were also allowed to compete with three Olympians, while Spain suffered with Javier Hernández and ice dancers. The International Skating Federation is doing this so that countries develop all disciplines of figure skating, and in this desire he is right. Now the South Koreans and Estonians will not be able to compete either as they have scored a lot of points only thanks to the singles, at the same time these countries do not have pairs and ice dancers who meet the Olympic requirements. This is why instead of these three teams, Ukraine (which has been competing since 2014) and Georgia with the Czech Republic will participate for the first time in the Olympic tournament. And such a route is reminiscent of a bronze for both Georgia and Canada, Italy (then the refusal of Della Monica and Guarise of the European Championships will be justified). Seriously, the team event only has two favorites: Russia is an obvious candidate for gold and the United States – the obvious candidate for silver. We have two strengths: the ladies and the ice dance where we can hope for four first places. The ice dancers are weaker, the men are unclear, but with almost the 40 guarantee in your pocket, you can afford to be wrong. The United States won’t have that much margin, even in men’s singles, as Japan are the strongest opponents there. The land of the rising sun is the first candidate for bronze, as it can count on the first places for its men, the second places for its women and a very good pair Rika Miura and Ryuichi Kihara. There is only one weak link left: ice dancing. However, there is a risk of chasing two birds in the bush and losing gold at reigning men’s singles champion Yuzur Hanyu. But there is good support in the person of Shoma Uno and Yuma Kagiyama.
The Russian figure skating administration will have its own problems: for example, lining up Alexandra Trusova and Anna Shchebakov for the women’s singles and giving Kamila Valiyeva a chance to prepare for an individual gold medal. Or add Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov to the squad so that they become Olympic champions at the end of their careers “for their long service”. Either way, is it much nicer to think about who to drop than to discuss who to align with?
The author’s opinion does not necessarily coincide with the position of the editorial board of Realnoe Vremya.