Men’s Short Program
Michal Brezina of the Czech Republic gave a solid performance to take the lead in the Men’s Short Program in Graz, Austria, on Wednesday. Russia’s Dmitri Aliev is just over a point behind in second place, followed by teammate Artur Danielian who is making his European Championship debut.
Brezina was near-stellar in his routine to “Baby Did a Bad Bad Thing” by Chris Isaak, producing a quad Salchow-double toe, triple flip and triple Axel. The 29-year-old also showed very good level 4 footwork and two level 4 spins to score a new season’s best of 89.77.
“I feel good!” said the skater who trains in California under Rafael Arutyunyan. “There was a small mistake in a spin, but the performance itself was great. From the marks, everyone enjoyed it. I felt good while performing as I was not concentrated on on technical elements and was just performing.”
Brezina, who will soon be a father, feels that his motivation comes from the heart. “It isn’t good if you force yourself.” He hasn’t decided whether or not this will be his last competition. “Maybe it is a ‘bye-bye’ and maybe not.
Aliev gave a confident skate to “Je Dors Sur Des Roses,” which featured a solid quad toe, but the 2019-20 Grand Prix Finalist underrotated his opening quad toe in combination with a triple toe and later underrotated and put a hand down on a triple Axel. The Russian champion sits in second with 88.45 points.
“I was very calm and it set me to the skate,” said the 2018 European silver medalist. “Ii was a good skate. I am not satisfied with the marks; there were underrotations, of course the judges are right, but I’ll have to see and find out where I underrotated. I did not expect to score less than 90. I didn’t feel that I underrotated the Lutz.”
Teammate Danielian showed poise in his Flamenco to music from Don Juan, with the only mistake being a step out on the triple Axel. Otherwise, the 2018 World Junior silver medalist landed a quad Salchow and triple Lutz-triple toe and earned a level 4 on all spins and footwork. He scored a new personal best of 84.63.
“I am so thrilled to be here, to skate at the Europeans!” said the 17-year-old. “I tried to calm down before the skate. I owed myself a decent short program after Nationals and I still have a lot to improve after today’s skate. The audience support here is so much higher and it’s nice to skate here. It’s a huge experience for me to skate with all the experienced skaters.”
Skating to “Always Watching You,” Georgia’s Morisi Kvitelashvili fell on a quad toe, but landed a quad Salchow-triple toe and hung onto the landing of a triple Axel to finish in fourth with a new season’s best of 82.77.
“It’s a shame I made mistakes in the second part of the program—the quad toe didn’t work as I expected,” said the 2019 CS Golden Spin silver medalist. “I’ll try to do better in the free. I will fight till the end. The audience was great, I felt their support.”
Deniss Vasiljevs of Latvia is currently in fifth with 80.44 points after his performance to “Bloodstream.” The 2019 CS Nepela Memorial bronze medalist was held back on the technical mark after underrotating and stepping out of a triple Axel. He also received an edge call on his triple flip in combination with a triple toe, but otherwise showed landed a solid triple Lutz and impressed with very good level 4 spins and footwork.
He doesn’t plan on doing a quad in the Free Skate. “What counts is the performance from the beginning to the end without mistakes, and taking such a risk is at the moment, strategically unwise for me.”
The 20-year-old is nursing a twisted ankle, but can said he could still compete as the “injury is not serious enough to take me out.”
“I’m very glad that I can come out on the ice and perform and break the pain, no matter how big the mental barrier is,” said Vasiljevs. “I’m very proud that after such a challenge, I can stand here smiling.”
Germany’s Paul Fentz sits in fifth with a new personal best of 80.41 after a clean skate to “Blue Skies,” which featured a quad toe, triple Axel and triple Lutz-double toe.
“I felt very comfortable with the quad,” said the 27-year-old. “I thought I’d just do it solo to have some nice GOEs (grades of execution) and do the combination later in the program, because I’ll get a few more points for that in the second half. I wanted to do a triple-triple (combination), but I didn’t. On Monday, the hook of my right skating boot came off and I had to tape the boot. After the quad, I felt the boot was a bit unstable, but I skated a clean program and I’m very pleased with it. My goal is to make the top ten to get a second spot for Germany.”
Italy’s Matteo Rizzo gave a solid effort in his skate to “Start A Fire” producing a triple Axel, but had to hang onto the landing of his opening quad toe and underrotated his triple Lutz-triple toe. He placed seventh with 79.07 points.
“I want to skate a clean program tomorrow,” said the 2019 Cup of China bronze medalist regarding the Free Skate. “Except for the technical score, today’s score is not what I expected.”
Alexei Bychenko of Israel is in eighth (78.27), followed by Estonia’s Aleksandr Selevko (77.45) and Italy’s Gabriele Frangipani (76.91).
Alexander Samarin sits in 13th (74.77) after underrotating his opening quad Lutz and falling on a quad toe combo.
In what rocked the arena with shock, France’s Kevin Aymoz didn’t make the cut in qualifying for the Free Skate, finishing a dismal 26th after struggling in his performance. The 2019-20 Grand Prix bronze medalist underrotated and fell on both the quad toe and triple Axel and popped his triple Lutz combo. He claimed he didn’t know what happened and did not feel any more pressure than usual.
“I did not get unfocused after that first mistake because it is the work of the skater to continue to fight until the end,” said the French champion regarding his performance after the fall on the quad. “I am disappointed that I could not represent our team at the best level today. I will do everything to show my real level at Worlds and show that today was just an exception.”