Italy’s Carolina Kostner won her first European title in the ladies event, edging out Sarah Meier of Switzerland by less than four points.
Finland’s Kiira Korpi, who was sixth last year, captured the bronze.
Since no qualifying round was held, the top 24 of the 38 skaters from the short program advanced to the long.
Meier landed a solid triple Lutz-double toeloop combination and triple flip in the opening of her routine to Concerto de Aranjuez by Joaquín Rodrigo. Despite a flying sit spin that was a bit short, the Swiss Champion otherwise produced a double Axel, a very good combination spin, and a good layback spin to place first with 60.49 points.
“My flying sit spin could have been better,” said Meier. “I was too close to the boards and the spin was small, so I guess the level is not high.” When asked about coming into the event as a ‘top contender’, she replied: “On the one hand I felt pressure, but on the other I have some experience now and was able to give a good performance. My goal here is to get a medal.”
Performing to Canon in D by Pachelbel, Kostner opened with a very good triple flip-triple toeloop combination, but then doubled a Lutz before landing a solid double Axel. Despite the mistake, the current European bronze medalist otherwise produced a very good circular footwork sequence and an excellent level four spiral sequence, placing a very close second (60.46 points).
“I’m satisfied and happy to be competing again,” said Kostner, who sat out the Grand Prix series due to a torn ligament of the left ankle. “After my injury, I feel like an outsider. I came here not expecting anything.”
Kostner felt she wasn’t focused enough in her program. “Today was my first practice on this ice rink, and it is much smaller, so I felt I have to rush or I crash into the boards.”
Skating to the Two Guitars by Paul Mauriat, Russia’s Elene Gedevanishvili two-footed her opening triple Lutz and had a shaky landing on her triple flip (in combination with a double toeloop). Nevertheless, the 2006 Karl Schäfer Memorial Champion delivered a solid double Axel, a very good level four spiral sequence, an excellent level four layback spin, and a good level four combination spin to place third with 54.62 points.
“I did what I can do at this point,” said Gedevanishvili at a post-press conference. The Georgian had to leave her training base in Russia (October) due to her mother’s visa problems. “I’m not yet in my best shape. I was three months off the ice. When I came back to Georgia, they gave me some ice, but it was very small and they couldn’t really resurface it, so they resurfaced it once a week and there were public skating session, too. It was a very difficult time for me. Now I have been training for three weeks in the USA. I hope that everything will be OK now.”
Julia Sebestyen of Hungary opened her routine to Schubert’s Serenade with a solid triple flip, but doubled her first jump in a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination. The 2006 Cup of Russia silver medalist otherwise produced a solid double Axel, a nice layback spin, good circular footwork, and two very good spins to earn 53.87 points for a fourth place finish after the short.
“Maybe I just wanted it too much,” said the Hungarian Champion, referring to the doubled Lutz. “Fortunately, the rest of the program was good.” The 25-year-old went on to say that it was hard to come back after last season. “I changed coaches and we started to work on my technique, the jumps, the spins. This season I made good progress. The Grand Prix competitions were good. Now I am in good shape and I want to be in the top and not in the middle. Tomorrow in the LP I have to do the lutz.”
Performing to Eye Patch and Yo Te Quiero by Robert Rodriguez, Korpi opened with a triple loop-double toeloop combination and a triple flip. The 2006 Finlandia Trophy Champion also produced a double Axel, difficult spins, and a good level four spiral sequence, placing a close fifth with a new personal best of 53.84 points.
“I had a hard time before these Championships,” confessed Korpi. “I fell sick before Christmas and was ill for almost three weeks, so I couldn’t prepare so well for this competition. I wasn’t in my best shape.”
Korpi said she now feels good. “Knowing how hard it has been, and the persistent hard work I kept doing finally paid off. At the beginning of the season, I had a 3-3 in the program, but it never started to work. The short program is such a harsh game. You can’t make mistakes, so that’s why we decided to change the jumps.”
Skating to a Harlem Nocturne, Russia’s Alexandra Ievleva was playful and expressive, landing a triple loop-double toeloop combination, a triple toeloop, and a double Axel out of a twizzle. The 19-year-old also produced a a very good level four combination spin and spiral sequence, placing sixth with a new personal best of 50.28 points.
“The program was really even,” said Ievleva, “but there was no time to relax as I had to count the positions in the spirals and rotations in the spin. You have to finish each element.” She added that the atmosphere felt ‘nice and welcoming’ which helped her nerves.
When asked about doing so well despite the other Russian skaters struggling in the event, Ievleva replied: “I have just very little experience, but Ksiusha (Doronina) and Seriozha (Dobrin) perform very difficult elements, and therefore it was much harder for them. I do the elements that can do a 100 percent.”
“I have a lot of emotions,” she continued, on competing at her first European Championship. “Everything is new. There are so many famous skaters, and maybe it helped me that I was watching the others.”
Susanna Poykio of Finland opened her routine to One by Apocalyptica (a Finnish quartet) with a solid double Axel, but then singled a triple Lutz (meant to be in combination with a double toeloop). Despite the mistake, the 2006 Finlandia Trophy silver medalist produced a triple flip, a good layback spin, and a good combination spin, earning 49.47 points for a seventh place finish after the short.
“Who knows what happened,” said the Finnish Champion, of the singled Lutz. “I don’t know. I guess I just rushed into it. I wasn’t calm enough. I was quite nervous. Considering [the mistake], the points were quite tolerable. Of course I’m not satisfied with them. I tried to fight for the levels on the other elements to the end. It is still possible to go up from here tomorrow.”
Russia’s Elena Sokolova two-footed the landing of a triple Lutz (in combination with a double toeloop) and doubled a loop in her routine to Turandoti, placing eighth with 48.85 points.
“The loop is one of my best jumps, it just happened,” said Sokolova of the doubled loop. “I was wondering [what happened] myself. This mistake came as a big surprise, because I really was in good shape. Maybe I was lacking confidence a bit. I was a 100 percent ready. Today was not my day. Maybe tomorrow will be.”
Alisa Drei of Finland was ninth (48.78 points), followed by Estonia’s Elena Glebova (47.35 points).
Kostner opened her Memoirs of a Geisha with a triple flip-triple toeloop-double loop combination, followed by a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination and a triple loop. The Italian Champion later singled a loop in the program, but otherwise produced two more triple jumps, a double Axel, an excellent level four spiral sequence, and good circular footwork, placing first in the long with a new personal best of 114.33 points and overall (174.90 points) to win the title.
“I feel awesome!” exclaimed Kostner. “I had a lot of fun skating tonight. It was one of my best programs, not only because of the jumps, but because I was feeling so well on the ice.”
Kostner, who tore ligaments while practicing a triple loop in September, didn’t have high expectations coming into the event. “Maybe that helped me,” explained the 19-year-old. But the real key was what I learned during the Olympic Games last year.”
Overnight leader Meier opened her lyrical Pride and Prejudice routine with a triple Lutz-double toeloop-double loop combination, followed by a triple flip-double toeloop combination, and a somewhat shaky triple flip. Despite stepping out of a triple Lutz and doubling a Salchow, the 2006-07 Grand Prix Final bronze medalist also delivered a double Axel, a triple toeloop-double toeloop combination, a good level three straight line footwork sequence, and three good spins, earning 110.79 points for a second place finish in the long and overall (171.28 points).
“I am happy but also a bit disappointed,” admitted Meier. “My free program wasn’t what I imagined it to be. It was not perfect. I lost first place, but the more time passes, the happier I will be. My goal was to get a medal and I got the silver.”
Meier didn’t see Kostner skate, but knew that the Italian had done very well. “This was good because I knew I had to give everything,” continued the 22-year-old. “At the end of the program, I was tired, but I fought and landed the triple toeloop.”
Italy’s Valentina Marchei, who was 12th after the short, stepped out of a triple Lutz (in combination with a double toeloop) in the beginning of her routine to Adios Nonino, but quickly recovered to land a triple Lutz, a double Axel-double toeloop combination, and a triple Salchow-double toeloop combination. The current Italian National bronze medalist also produced a good level four spiral sequence, two more triple jumps, and a double Axel, placing placed third in the long with a new personal best of 97.85 points and fifth overall (144.28 points).
“It was a great performance,” said the 20-year-old, who was 19th at the event last year. “A great improvement from yesterday. I didn’t expect anything. I was the last in my group, so I just wanted to catch up and then it was perfect.”
Korpi, who stood in fifth after the short, doubled a toeloop, underrotated a triple flip, and stepped out of a double Axel in her routine to Phantasia, but otherwise delivered a triple Lutz-double toeloop-double loop combination, and two more triple jumps (in combination with double jumps), as well as a double Axel, a good spiral sequence, and good spins. The 18-year-old was awarded 97.35 points for a fourth place finish in the long, and with a total score of 151.19 points, placed third overall to capture the bronze.
Korpi was stunned. “I still can’t believe that I has won the bronze,” she said. “I never would have expected this after my performance. I could have done better, but I am happy with it anyway. The first jump was a double, the flip was not clean and then there was [the mistake on] an Axel, but otherwise it was Ok. I can’t believe my marks. I didn’t expect them to be so good, especially since I know what I could be capable of. There is still room for improvement. I have had a nice feeling all week. I have been enjoying the buzz.”
Poykio underrotated a triple Lutz, doubled a flip, and stepped out of a triple Salchow (in combination with a double toeloop) in her routine to music from the Munich soundtrack. Despite the mistakes, the 2006 Finlandia Trophy silver medalist delivered a very good triple toeloop, a good spiral sequence, and a good layback spin to place fifth (96.55 points) in the long and fourth overall (146.02 points).
“It was a forced performance,” revealed Poykio. “I guess everyone could see that there wasn’t a relaxed feeling. This was definitely not what I am able to do. There were some little things about my preparation for this competition that didn’t go too well.”
The 23-year-old said the first thing she will do is change her skates for Worlds. “The new skates I got in the summer were too big, and this pair is two years old and about to fall apart. I don’t want to put the [entire] blame on the skates though.”
Teammate Drei, who stood in ninth after the short, landed a triple Lutz and a very good triple toeloop-double toeloop combination in the beginning of her routine to Warsaw Concerto. The 28-year-old stepped out of a triple Salchow, but otherwise produced a double Axel-triple Salchow sequence, as well as two more triple jumps, placing sixth in the long (93.12 points) and overall (141.90 points).
“My program was good,” said Drei. “The Lutz was very fine. I’ve been training a lot over the summer and autumn for a perfect, beautiful Lutz.”
Sokolova underrotated a triple Lutz and a triple toeloop in her skate to Notre-Dame de Paris. Her routine featured a triple toeloop-double toeloop-double loop combination, a triple loop-double toeloop combination, and a good level two straight line footwork sequence, however, all her spins were sub par, earning a level one or two at best. The current Russian bronze medalist placed seventh (90.86 points) in the long and overall (139.71 points).
“My short wasn’t totally bad,” reflected the 25-year-old. “This mistake happened and it’s nothing terrible. I just forgot about everything and did what I could today. I understood that I wouldn’t be fighting for medals here, so I just skated for the audience. They appreciated that and you could hear it.”
Gedevanishvili fell on a triple flip, and despite a good layback spin and footwork, seemed to struggle with the rest of her jumps in her routine to Flamenco Fantasia, placing ninth in the long (82.70 points) and eighth (137.32 points) overall.
“I think it was a bad performance,” confessed the 17-year-old. “But under these circumstances, I was unable to train for three months and I have been training only for three weeks. Now I have good practice conditions. I am now looking forward to Worlds and I hope to be in good shape by then.”
Sebestyen doubled her first jump in a triple Salchow-double toeloop combination, and then stepped out of a triple Lutz (in combination with a double toeloop) in her skate to Otonal by Raul di Blasio. The 2006 Cup of China Champion later singled a Lutz and doubled a toeloop to place 10th in the long (90.68 points), slipping to ninth overall (136.05 points).
Ievleva singled a triple Salchow and later fell on another. The current Russian National silver medalist, who was sixth after the short, also turned out the landing of a double Axel (in combination with a double toeloop), placing 14th in the long (76.71 points) and 11th overall (126.99 points).
“I had a rather easy program,” said Ievleva, “It was my own fault. I really wanted to go out and to skate well. Of all the skaters, I liked Carolina Kostner best. I learned a lot from this competition. I experienced everything for the first time and how a championship goes. I don’t yet if I will have a more difficult program by Worlds.”
Tugba Karademir of Turkey, who stood in 13th after the short, placed eighth in the long and 10th overall (131.00 points).