Russia’s Irina Slutskaya skated to her sixth European gold, equaling the record six titles of Germany’s Katarina Witt and Norway’s Sonia Henie. Finland’s Susanna Poykio won her first silver and it was the first time for Finland to medal at an ISU senior Championship in the ladies event. Ukraine’s Elena Liashenko won the bronze, while defending champion Julia Sebestyen of Hungary placed fourth.
Skating to an energetic tango by Dmitry Shostakovich, Slutskaya opened with triple Lutz-double loop combination, followed by a triple flip, and a double Axel. The 25-year-old also produced a good layback and spiral sequence, as well as nice spins and footwork, earning a score of 65.02 for first place after the short.
“It was a good program,” said Slutskaya, “but I hope that I will skate even better at Worlds.” The 2002 Olympic silver medalist added that she recovered from her flu that she suffered during Russian Nationals earlier this month. “I had to stay in bed for one week after Nationals. I’m ok now, but I’m still coughing.”
Sebestyen also gave a strong performance to Fire on Ice by Bijan Mortazavi, completing a good triple flip, a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination, and a double Axel. The 23-year-old also produced a nice sideways layback which had pretty transitions to a traditional back layback, and earned a new personal best score of 61.28, placing second after the short.
Defending European Champion Julia Sebestyen nailed a triple flip, a huge triple Lutz-double toeloop combination as well as a double Axel and produced fast spins to receive 61.28 points (33.26/28.02) for her routine “Fire on Ice”.
“My goal was to do a clean program and that’s what I did,” an ecstatic Sebestyen told the post-event news conference. “I had an achilles injury and so I started my preparations for the season later than usual,” she added, referring to her
results in the first half of the season.
Skating to Henry VIII by Camille Saint-Saens, Poykio put out a clean and complete program with great concept and choreography. The Finnish champion landed a triple flip, a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination, and a double Axel, earning a new personal best score of 56.63 for a third place finish after the short.
“I think this was the best short program that I’ve done this season so far,” acknowledged Poykio. “It probably was the best I could do. I’m very happy to be here. The third place is great for me.”
Liashenko had an almost flawless program, but overrotated the triple flip and couldn’t check the landing. The triple Lutz-double toeloop combination and double Axel were clean. The two-time Olympian earned a score of 55.16 for her routine to Ravel’s Flamenco Bolero, placing fourth after the short.
Russia’s Elena Sokolova also had problems on the flip, popping hers to a single, but landed the triple Lutz-double toeloop combination and double Axel. The 1998 Olympian earned a score of 52.46 for her routine to Don Quixote, placing fifth after the short.
Ukraine’s Galina Maniachenko gave a good performance to Funeral for a Friend by Elton John, landing all jumps, but the layback traveled extensively and the step sequence was a bit slow. The 2002 Olympian was sixth after the short with a score of 49.62.
In seventh, was Italy’s Carolina Kostner, followed by Daria Timoshenko of Azerbaijan.
A total of 37 ladies competed in the Short Program with the top 24 proceeding to the Free Skate.
Skating to Wonderland and Whisper from the Mirror, Slutskaya had a lackluster performance, popping a Salchow, doubling a loop, and falling on a triple Lutz. The five-time European champ landed two clean triples (one in combination with a double), as well as a double Axel, but missed the Biellmann position on the back half of a spin and seemed to be held up in some components. Despite a somewhat sloppy and rushed performance, the 2004-05 Grand Prix Final champion earned a score of 103.69 – enough to place first in the long and overall (168.71).
“It wasn’t great today, but I’m happy that I’m first,” Slutskaya told the press. “I was well prepared, but it’s still difficult for me.” Due to illness, Slutskaya missed the last season and is still taking mediation. “I skated well in other competitions, but you can’t be always good. Now I’ll take some rest.”
Liashenko nailed a triple Lutz-double toeloop in the opening of her routine to music from the Frida soundtrack, but turned out on the landing on the next jump – a triple flip. The 28-year-old landed two more triples (one in combination with a double), but two-footed the landing on a triple Lutz. Despite the errors, the 1995 European Bronze Medalist earned a score of 102.86, placing second in the long and moving up to third overall (158.02).
“It wasn’t a bad skate,” said Liashenko, “but there were some mistakes. They happened out of nervousness, because I really wanted to have a medal.” When asked about how she felt competing at such a high level for ten years, she answered: “It is difficult to be always at the top. It’s easier to win once something than staying at a high level for such a long period of time. If I won the medal ten years ago by chance, so now and last year I earned it through a lot of hard work and deserved it.”
Poykio looked nervous but stayed calm and controlled throughout her routine to Rota’s Romeo and Juliet, landing a good triple Salchow-double loop combination at the opening. Despite singling an Axel and doubling a flip, the 2001 World Junior bronze medalist landed a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination, as well as three more triples (one in combination with a double). With a new personal best score of 102.30, the 22-year-old placed third in the long, but moved up to second place overall with a total score of 158.93.
“After I singled the Axel and doubled the flip, I thought, ‘bye bye medal’,” reflected Poykio. “Now I’m so happy, I can’t find any words. I can’t yet realize that I made some history today, but I made history before, when I won a medal at
Junior Worlds (in 2001).”
Also skating to Romeo and Juliet, Sokolova gave somewhat slow and uninspiring performance, attempting a triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination, but underrotating the toeloop. The 2003 World silver medalist fell out of a triple Lutz and doubled a toeloop, but landed two clean triples and a double Axel to place fourth in the long (98.42). Though this was a new personal best score for the 24-year-old, the total score of 150.88 was only enough to maintain fifth place overall.
Sebestyen, who stood in second after the short, doubled her Salchow in the triple Salchow-double toeloop combination, in her Carmen routine, but next managed to land a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination. However, the Hungarian champion had problems on the rest of the jumps (including a fall on a triple toeloop), except for a triple flip and double Axel. The reigning European champion earned a score of 95.85 for a sixth place finish in the long which resulted in a fourth place finish overall (157.13).
Skating to Musa Ler by Ara Gevorgian, Maniachenko opened with a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination, followed by a triple loop. The former junior pair skater turned out the landing on a triple flip, doubled a triple Salchow, and stumbled on a triple Lutz to place fifth in the long with a score of 96.24 (new personal best). With a total score of 145.86, the 24-year-old maintained her sixth place position overall.
Kostner placed seventh in the long and overall.
Timoshenko placed 11th in the long, but maintained her eighth place position overall.