2004 European Figure Skating Championships: Ladies Highlights

in the Ladies event, Hungary’s Julia Sebestyen won her first European Championship title. Elena Liashenko of Ukraine won the silver, while Russia’s Elena Sokolova seized the bronze.

Short Program

Sokolova skated first in her group, appearing somewhat slow overall and two-footing her triple flip. The 2003 World silver medalist earned marks from 4.7 to 5.6 to place sixth in the short.

“I practiced quite early this morning,” said Sokolova. “Actually, it was quite difficult to skate first. I didn’t do my job very well, but there is still one more chance for me (Free Program). My jumps didn’t work out today, I don’t know why. Hopefully, I’m in a better shape like at the beginning of the season.

When Sebestyen took the ice, the home crowd waved their flags and greeted her with loud cheers. The 2003 European bronze medalist appeared calm and focused, landing a triple flip, a triple Lutz-double toeloop, and a double Axel. The spins in her program to a Waltz by Dmitri Shostakovich contained difficult positions and were fast. The Hungarian champion scored marks from 5.3 to 5.9, placing first in the short.

“I’ve tried to focus on the important elements as much as possible,” Sebestyen commented. “After the third jump, it was so easy to skate. The home crowd supported me a lot. It was awesome to skate for them. Of course, I felt a bit nervous, but not that much to make any mistake. I think it is necessary to give an outstanding performance.”

Skating to Otonal by Raul di Blasio, Liashenko delivered a solid program which featured a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination, a triple flip, and a
double Axel, as well as good spins. The Ukrainian received marks from 5.1 to 5.8 for a second place finish in the short.

“Emotionally, this might have been the best Short Program of the season,” said Liashenko. “The elements probably were better in one of the Grand Prix events, at least partially.” Liashenko didn’t compete at the Ukrainian Nationals this year due to pain in the left foot.

In her first ISU Senior Championships, Hungary’s Viktoria Pavuk landed a triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination, a triple flip, and a double Axel. The 2004 Ukrainian silver medalist earned marks from 4.8 to 5.7 for her performance to Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, placing third in the short.

“I’m very happy,” Pavuk told the press, “especially because it is for the first time that I landed a triple-triple combination in competition. Of course, the home crowd supported me and it meant a lot to me. But I try to block out everything and to focus as much as possible on my program. Of course, this is a big opportunity for me. I wouldn’t be so disappointed if I’m not on the podium, but I will try my best to stay there, of course.”

Susanna Pöykiö of Finland placed fourth after delivering a clean and sophisticated performance which included a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination and a triple flip.

“I’m very happy at the moment,” said Pöykiö. “I did my best short program this season. I wasn’t especially afraid of any elements, I think the whole program is really hard to do clean. It was very hard today to wake up at 5 o’clock [for practice]. Than I went back to sleep and I was wide awake, but I think it was all right. My [ankle] injury is just history now, my foot is doing well and I’m doing well also.”

Italy’s Carolina Kostner landed a triple flip-triple toeloop combination, but fell out of a loop to finish 5th.

“I don’t really know why I made a mistake on the loop,” said Kostner. “Maybe I rushed too much because I wanted to get over with all the jumps. But overall I’m very happy that the program. In general, it went well. It was much better than what I did earlier this season in my other competitions. This will give me strength for tomorrow.”

Long Program

Pavuk delivered a strong performance to Miss You Edvin Marton and Rhapsody in Rock by Robert Wells, executing a triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination as well as five more triple jumps. The 17-year-old scored marks from 5.2 to 5.8 to place but fourth in the long and overall.

“I very good on the ice,” said the 2004 Junior Grand Prix bronze medalist. “Yesterday I was more confident, but luckily I had a very good performance today too. The fall during the warm-up didn’t mean a thing, even though there was a lot of pressure on me.” Already feeling excited before taking the ice for the long program, Pavuk felt even more nervous when she drew first to skate in her group.

Pöykiö skated next and delivered an elegant performance to Gershwin’s Concerto in F-Minor, landing four clean triples. The 2001 World Junior bronze medalist two-footed her triple Salchow and doubled a flip, scoring marks from 5.1 to 5.7, placing sixth in the long and dropping from fourth to sixth overall.

“I think I did a good job out there,” said Pöykiö. ” It wasn’t easy to skate after the Hungarian girl [Pavuk]. Despite not making the podium, the Finn was happy with the results of her performance, feeling it was her overall best in her third European Championship event. “Now I’ll have a little rest at my home town and after that the preparation for Worlds will begin,” she continued. “I want to be in the top ten at Worlds.”

Skating to music from the Frida soundtrack, Liashenko landed two triple Lutzes (one in combination with double toeloop), two triple flips (one with a double toeloop), as well as a solo triple toeloop and a triple Salchow. The 1995 European bronze medalist earned marks from 5.4 to 5.9 for a third place finish in the long and second overall.

“It was the best Free Program of the season,” said Liashenko. “I did everything I could do. There wasn’t anything else I could have done today. I was very focused when I went out to skate. I had inner confidence, and I told myself that I can do it, and that it’s just me out there and everything depends on me alone.”

Sokolova, who was in sixth after the short, fought back in the long, landing a triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination, followed by a triple flip, and a triple Salchow-triple toeloop combination, a triple loop, and a high double Axel. Though she doubled her second Lutz in her performance to music from the Notre Dame de Paris soundtrack, the reigning World silver medalist scored marks from 5.4 to 5.9, placing second in the long and moving up four spots to second overall.

Sokolova was pleased with putting out a good performance after a less than stellar short program. “It was perfect, the best,” she said. “I was not angry, but I wasn’t satisfied with myself yesterday. I don’t care about the result now, I’m very happy that I didn’t just skate well but the best today. I had nothing to lose. I went out and really fought, and that was very important to me.”

When Sebestyen took the ice, the crowd went wild, but the Hungarian handled the pressure well. The Hungarian champion’s Tango program featured a triple Salchow, a triple Lutz-double toeloop, a triple loop, a triple flip, and double Axel as well as difficult spins. The audience cheered for each element she hit and each move she made, and when the 22-year-old went into the straight line footwork, a big smile lit up her face. Though the 2003 European bronze medalist doubled her first flip and stepped out of the triple toeloop (in combination with double toeloop), she scored marks from 5.5 to 5.9 for a first place finish in the long and overall.

“I’m really happy,” said Sebestyen. “The crowd was fantastic, they supported me so much. It was really hard, because the pressure was huge.” The 22-year-old gave credit to her coaches (Andras Szaraz and Ester Jurek) for helping her to prepare after the skaters before her had performed well. “I knew that I had to skate very well,” Sebestyen said, “but I tried to focus on myself only. I didn’t even
dream about this [winning the gold] before.”

Kostner, who had to skate after Sebestyen, put her best long program of the season so far. The 2003 World Junior bronze medalist went for a triple flip-triple toeloop combination, but struggled with the second jump. Kostner, who turns seventeen-years-old tomorrow, scored marks from 5.2 to 5.8 for a fifth place finish in the long and overall.

“It was tough to skate after Julia [Sebestyen] and tough to skate last,” said Kostner. “I don’t like to wait so long. The audience was awesome. I’m so happy for Julia that she won. There was so much pressure on her. I also felt pressure, I wanted to do my best.” Kostner admires skaters who can put out a strong performance under pressure. “So this was a good experience for me,” she continued. “It is important for me to have done well here today.”

Finland’s Alisa Drei, who was 10th after the short, placed seventh in the long and overall.

“I had problems with triple Lutz both times,” said the Finnish champion. “I even fell during the second one. I’m not able to do it at a competition but there is no problem with it at practice.”

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