Golden Skate

Samodurova shines; wins European ladies’ title

Sofia Samodurova

Sofia Samodurova of Russia performs her Free Skate at the 2019 European Figure Skating Championships.

2019 European Figure Skating Championships

Ladies’ Free Skate

In her debut at this event, Russia’s Sofia Samodurova captured her the Ladies’ title at the 2019 European Figure Skating Championships on Friday in Minsk, Belarus. Teammate Alina Zagitova had a sub-par performance to slip to second for the silver, while Viveca Lindfors of Finland won the bronze.

Samodurova, who stood in second after the short, won the free skate with her routine to music from Burlesque, landing seven triple jumps, however, the triple Lutz had an edge call. The 2018 Rostelecom Cup silver medalist showed level four spins throughout and earned a new season’s best of 140.96 and 213.84.

“I am overwhelmed by emotions now,” admitted the 16-year-old. “I can’t find words to describe what I am feeling now. I am European Champion and that’s so awesome! My coach told me to stop crying, but I can’t. These are just my sincere emotions. Probably I am more happy about the fact that my coach is pleased with me.”

“I didn’t know how Alina skated,” she continued. “I tried not to listen to her score before I skated and just focused on my own program. This is my first senior championship and I am very happy that I was able to show such a result. However, I could have skated better in the second half of my program and I could have been more emotional and bright in some places.”

With a smile throughout and the audience clapping to parts of the music from the Anna Karenina soundtrack, Stanislava Konstantinova landed five clean triple jumps to finish second in the free skate with  132.96. The 2018 Ondrej Nepela bronze medalist, who was 11th after a disappointing short, underrotated a triple flip and doubled a Lutz, but showed level 4 spins throughout. The debutant catapulted from 11th to fourth overall (189.72).

It was difficult for the skater to go out after such a poor short program, but she was glad with how she managed today.

“I wanted to skate calmly, feel the music,” said the 18-year-old. “It was very important to start well into the program, because in the short, I messed up the first jump and after that, I had to take a risk (switch the combination) which didn’t pay off.”

“To go to the Universiade is a big honor for me,” said the skater, who finished fourth at 2019 Russian nationals. “Obviously, I would like to go to worlds, but the Universiade is another opportunity for me to confirm my position, even if it is just for myself.”

Lindfors showed lots of height in her jumps in her routine to Les Miserables, but stepped out of triple loop and underrotated and stepped out of a triple Salchow. Aside from those mistakes, she landed five clean triple jumps and earned a level 4 on two spins, as well as the straight-line steps, to finish third in the free skate (128.79) and rose to take the third spot on the podium (194.40). The last time a Finnish lady medaled at Europeans was in 2012 when Kiira Korpi won the silver.

“It feels a bit surreal because I have wanted this, but at the same time I can’t believe it’s true,” said the skater who won bronze at both Challenger events this season. “I’m so happy, because in the six-minute (practice), I can feel my back is worse and I’m so nervous what will happen. But I just go for every jump and it works out. My general goal was to feel good in the ending position, to feel like I gave it my all and I think I did.”

Defending champion Zagitova struggled with jumps today, underrotating most and falling on the back end of a of a triple Lutz-triple toe. The only clean jump was a triple Salchow. The 2018 Olympic champion, who was clearly disappointed, finished fourth in the free skate with 124.34, and slipped from first to second overall with 198.34 points.

“I want to say thanks to all my fans and to the whole arena for their support,” said the 16-year-old. “They really helped me and want to apologize to them for my unsuccessful skate today.”

“It’s good I’m in the top three and the silver medal is also good – it could have been worse, so I’m happy with silver, but I wanted to do better for me personally,” she added.

Laurine Lecavelier of France maintained sixth overall after her bluesy routine to “I’ll Take Care of You,” earning a season’s best of  116.76 / 180.05.

“I am pleased with this program,” said the 2018 French silver medalist. “Psychologically, it’s hard to be in the last group. It added a bit of pressure, but nevertheless, I felt less nervous than before the short program. There were some ups and downs. It started off really well then there were mistakes, but in the end it got better again.”

Teammate Maé-Bérénice Méité finished in seventh (177.10).

“I felt really nervous today,” said the five-time French national champion. “It had no particular reason, but knowing I am able to do well in practice, I also wanted to do well here and that added unnecessary pressure. This is what happened in the short program, so today I wanted to skate more freely. Other than that, it was quite a good performance.”

Slovakia’s Nicole Rajicova, who stood in fifth after the short, slipped to ninth overall (169.03).

“It started off quite well and then my legs collapsed,” she said of her free skate. It was quite a fight. I got so tired I couldn’t even handle double Axels. It is what it is. I just have to go and do more run-throughs.”