Tatiana Navka and Roman Kostomarov of Russia were the winners in the ice dance competition, claiming their second consecutive gold medal at this event. Elena Grushina and Ruslan Goncharov of Ukraine won the silver, while France’s Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder won the bronze.
Albena Denkova and Maxim Staviski of Bulgaria, who stood in fourth after the Compulsory and Original Dance, withdrew prior to the Free Dance, due to Denkova’s bronchitis.
Compulsory Dance (CD)
The Compulsory Dance (CD) for the event was the Golden Waltz. The dance was invented by Natalia Dubova, Marina Klimova, and Sergei Ponomarenko and was first performed at the 1987 Moscow Cup.
Navka and Kostomarov were not only elegant, but appeared confident in their waltz, displaying good edges, flow, timing, speed, and expression. The two-time and reigning ISU Grand Prix Final champions received 44.19 points for a first place finish after the CD.
“We feel more relaxed and confident than in last year’s European championships,” admitted Navka, who missed a week of training and the Russian Nationals due to the flu earlier this month. “My training for these European Championships began gradually. I didn’t want to force myself. Now I train as usual.”
Grushina and Goncharov also put out a good performance, showing great speed and presentation. Grushina especially appeared to project outward to the audience in a very grand style. The husband-and-wife team earned 40.39 points for a second place finish after the CD.
“We are very happy and satisfied,” said Goncharov, who felt they had been marked very well, adding that, “Physically, it (the Golden Waltz) is a very hard compulsory dance – two minutes is very long. However, we like it.”
Denkova and Staviski put out a strong performance despite the fact that Denkova is not quite over the flu which resulted in bronchitis. Though they appeared a bit sluggish, the two-time and reigning European silver medalists displayed good edging and received a score of 40.08 for a third place finish after the CD.
Delobel Schoenfelder exhibited deep and quiet edges in their waltz, placing fourth with a score of 38.49
Israel’s Galit Chait and Sergei Sakhnovksi were fifth (38.32), followed by Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali who were sixth (36.10 – a new personal best).
Original Dance (OD)
The event continued with the OD in which the dance for the 2004-2005 season is the “Rhythm Combination”. Couples can choose any two or three of the following rhythms: Slow Foxtrot, Quickstep, and/or Charleston.
Navka and Kostomarov were tight and crisp in their opening moves in their OD, displaying fast diagonal footwork that was a bit far apart, but fast with lots of turns. The team also executed a nice curve-rotational combination lift, a nice dance spin, a good twizzle sequence, and a level four rotational lift in the rest of Quickstep/Slow Foxtrot routine to Sing, Sing, Sing and Fever. Despite a slight loss of unison during the midline step sequence, the European champions placed first in OD with a score of 63.62 and overall with a total score of 107.81.
“It felt so easy for me to skate today,” said Navka. “We just started and then it was already over. I skated very clean, but Roman lost coordination in the side-by-side footwork.”
Staying true to the character of the dance, Grushina and Goncharov exhibited a nice midline step sequence in which the first half was performed on one foot with quick turns and good unison. The team also executed three good lifts (one in combination), as well as good diagonal step sequence and dance spin. The Ukrainian champions earned a score of 62.01 for their Cabaret routine, placing second in the OD and overall (102.40).
“We’re very happy with the way we skated today,” Goncharov told the post-event press conference. “I hope we’re going to skate even better in the free dance tomorrow.”
Chait and Sakhnovski opened their Sing, Sing, Sing and Smile routine with a happy, jumpy midline step sequence, showing good unison in the side-by-side footwork. The Israelis also produce good lifts and a diagonal step sequence, earning 60.67 points for a third place finish in the OD which was enough to move them up two spots to third overall (98.99).
“We’re very happy with our performance,” Chait commented. “The crowd was very good for us. They were giving us a lot of energy.”
Delobel and Schoenfelder produced an OD that exhibited a good diagonal and midline step sequence, as well as a nice dance spin and level four lifts. The French team placed fourth in the OD with 59.23, and with a total score of 97.72 points, remained in fifth place overall.
Denkova and Staviski struggled during the side-by-side footwork in the midline step sequence. Denkova, who is suffering from bronchitis, appeared out of breath at the end. The current World silver medalists placed fifth in the OD (57.92), slipping to fourth overall with 98.00 points.
Italy’s Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali stayed true to the ballroom style, in their OD, displaying smooth edging and great unison in their midline step sequence. They placed sixth in the OD (53.96), maintaining their sixth place position (90.06).
Free Dance (FD)
Navka and Kostomarov performed their FD to Puccini’s Tosca, opening with a twizzle sequence in which Kostomarov put a free foot down. The two-time and reigning Russian champions continued their passionate routine with a dance spin, and three good level four lifts. The Russians also produced a good circular and diagonal step sequence, but Kostomarov had a problems again on the second twizzle sequence. They produced two more level four lifts that were innovative with seamless entries and exits. Despite the errors, the entire program was well-connected and the reigning World champions received a score of 107.16, placing first in the FD and overall (214.97).
“We’re very happy, we did very well,” said Navka, who felt it was easier to defend the title than to win it for the first time. “We had a lot of power, except for the beginning when Roman made a mistake on the twizzles. It was scary, because it was right at the beginning.” “Sometimes this can happen,” Kostomarov added. “I’m not a robot.”
Delobel and Schoenfelder put out what was arguably the best technical dance of the evening. Performing to music from the soundtrack Frida, the French champions exhibited good flow and kept their speed, displaying soft knees and long, deep, precise edging throughout. The 2004 NHK and 2004 Trophee Eric Bompard bronze medalists produced six good level four lifts (one in combination), two good twizzle sequences, a good midline and circular step sequence, and spins, placing second in the FD (104.38 – a new personal best). With a total score of 202.10 points, they moved up from fourth to third overall.
“Now I realize it,” Schoenfelder said at the press conference. “When the marks came up on the screen, I didn’t want to show my feelings, because you never know, your eyes can be bad! This is a fabulous day for us. This is our first big medal. We worked very hard for this the past four years.”
Performing to Four Seasons and Air, Grushina and Goncharov began with a dance spin, two level four lifts, a circular step sequence, and a level four twizzle sequence. The reigning European bronze medalists performed five more level four lifts (one in combination), a diagonal step sequence, and a level four twizzle sequence, placing third in the long and (102.90) second overall (205.30).
“We did a very good free dance and showed everything what we can do,” said Grushina “It was very good, without mistakes.” Grushina confessed that they both knew it would be a difficult competition. “We were a little afraid. We hadn’t skated against most of the other couples before,” she admitted.
Chait and Sakhnovski put out a dramatic routine to Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, opening with a straight line and rotational lift. They went on to perform a clockwise circular step sequence, combination spin, diagonal step sequence, and difficult twizzles and lifts. With a score of 101.99 points, the 2002 World bronze medalists finished second in the FD, but were unable to hold onto third, and slipped to fourth overall (200.98).
Faiella and Scali delighted the crowd with an Aretha Franklin medley, finishing fourth in the FD (91.83) and moving up one spot to fifth overall (181.89).
Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin were sixth.