The 2005 European Figure Skating Championships were held Jan 23-27 at the Palavela ice rink in Torino, Italy. It was the third time this event was held in Italy and the first time in Torino.
For the first time since 1994, the Russian pairs swept the European podium. Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin won their fourth consecutive European title, while teammates Julia Obertas and Sergei Slavnov and Maria Petrova and Alexei Tikhonov placed second and third, respectively.
Totmianina and Marinin set a new personal best score of 69.70 with their short to Ave Maria. The current World champs executed a throw triple loop, side-by-side triple toeloops, a double twist, a lift, and good spins to place first overall after the short.
“The Russian Nationals helped us a lot to come back mentally,” offered Marinin, referring to the first time they competed since the terrifying fall that took place at Skate America in October. “Here, we had to improve our performance a little bit,” he said adding that the first competition [Russian Nationals] after the was the most important one. “Here, we were less nervous.”
Totmianina also liked the rink. When asked about it, she said, “The arena is bright, nice, and beautiful. This is a good experience to be able to skate here, of course it will help us in the Olympic Games … hopefully.”
Teammates Obertas and Slavnov produced side-by-side triple toeloops, a rare throw triple flip, a double twist, a lift, and good spins. The 2004 Skate America silver medalists earned a score of 63.59 (new personal best) for their routine to Les Rois Du Tsigane, placing second after the short.
“I think our program could have been a little bit better,” said Obertas. “The triple toe wasn’t perfect.” “Today we did everything what we could do,” countered her partner, Slavnov. “It’s the first time in our life that we beat Petrova and Tikhonov.”
Appearing tentative and a bit slow, Petrova and Tikhonov struggled in their tango routine. Tikhonov doubled the landing on the side-by-side triple toeloops and Petrova missed the hook on the forward camel spin but saved it. The reigning European silver medalists were third after the short with a score of 63.15 points.
“It was a big mistake to miss the triple toe – very disappointing,” said Tikhonov. “I don’t know why it happened. But we were more nervous [here] than at the other competitions.”
Germany’s Aljona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy earned 55.45 (new personal best) for their short to Isole performed by Rondó Veneziano. Savchenko touched down with her free foot on the throw triple Salchow, and the pair experienced problems with unison in the forward camel spin, but otherwise gave a respectable performance. One notable element in their program was a unique pair combination spin which changed direction with the change-of-foot from a counter-clockwise to a clock-wise spin.
Savchenko used to skate with Stanislav Morozov, however, their partnership dissolved in 2002 and after teaming up with Szolkowy in 2003, the team won the German Championship title in both 2004 and 2005.
Ukrainians, Stanislav Morozov and his new partner, Tatiana Volosozhar, were fifth after the short with 56.26 points (new personal best).
Overnight leaders Totmianina and Marinin were by far, the best in the long, earning a score of 126.58 for their routine to Scheherazade by Rimski-Korsakov. The Russian champions opened with a triple twist, followed by side-by-side triple Salchows, and a triple toeloop-double toeloop combination. The three-time and reigning European champions also displayed good spins and controlled lifts, earning a score of 126.58 to win the freeskate and first overall (196.28).
“It’s the best feeling,” said Totmianina of their victory. “We are very happy to be here and for me it is wonderful skating again at a high level after the accident.”
Skating to The Truman Show and Secret Garden, Obertas and Slavnov opened with a quad twist, but the landing was a little crashy. Obertas then doubled the second landing on the side-by-side triple toeloop-triple toeloop sequence and later stepped out of the landing on the side-by-side triple toeloops. While the first Axel lasso lift was impressive, they missed the second one when Obertas almost immediately collapsed down onto her partner’s back (nearly identical to the mistake they made at Skate America), grabbing onto him and hanging on until Slavnov could bend over to set her down. The two-time and current Russian bronze medalists earned a score of 113.51 (new personal best), placing second in the free and overall (177.10) to win silver – their first European medal.
“We never expected to be second,” said an excited Obertas. “After the quad twist, I was a little dizzy. We had a mistake on the lift, but we saved it.” “We’re skating together for one and a half years, and I think we’ve done quite well for this short period of time,” added her partner, Slavnov. “We skated very well in the short program and we were a bit lucky in the free program.”
Petrova and Tikhonov had a good beginning in their long to The Circus Princess, opening with a double Axel-triple toeloop sequence. However, Petrova doubled the landing on the side-by-side triple Salchows, stumbled on the throw triple loop, and squarely two-footed the landing on the throw triple Salchow. The six-time and reigning Russian silver medalists also missed their grip on the change of foot and didn’t complete the back half of the final pair combination spin. With a score of 112.74, the 2003 World bronze medalists placed third in the free and maintained third overall with a total score of 175.89.
“This was not our day,” said a disappointed Tikhonov during the post-event news conference. “We tried to do our best. We fought until the end. We did some mistakes, but that’s sport, that’s figure skating. We hope to skate better at the next competition.”
Newcomers Savchenko and Szolkowy, while showing a lot of potential, made too many mistakes to medal with their performance to music from the Casablanca soundtrack. Savchenko doubled the landing on the of the first side-by-side triple toeloops, while Szolkowy fell on the landing of the second. Savchenko also landed on both feet on a throw double Axel and singled a throw triple Salchow. Szolkowy fell on the landing of the second set of side-by-side triple toeloops. The German champions earned a score of 99.28 for the long and maintained fourth place overall with a total score of 158.73.
Volosozhar and Morozov placed fifth in the long (95.53) and overall (151.79), followed by Germany’s Rebecca Handke and Daniel Wende, who maintained and finished sixth overall (135.19) with new personal best scores for both the short and long programs.