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Russia’s Aliev claims gold in Graz

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2020 Europeans

Men’s Free Skate

Russia’s Dmitri Aliev rose to claim the gold on Thursday after the Men’s Free Skate in Graz, Austria. Teammate Artur Danielian captured the silver in his debut at this event, while Georgia’s Morisi Kvitelashvili pocketed the bronze—becoming the first man from his country to win a European medal.

Skating to “The Sound of Silence,” Aliev underroated and put a foot down on his opening quad Lutz, but landed a solid quad toe and quad toe-triple toe in addition to six solid triple jumps. The 2019 CS Nepela Memorial champion also showed strong level 4 footwork and two spins to finish first in the free skate with a new personal best of 184.44—over 15 points more than his personal best from 2019 Rostelecom Cup where he took silver. With a total overall score of 272.89 points, he easily won the gold.

“I am incredibly happy,” said the Russian Champion. “At the end of my program, I cried out of happiness and feeling proud. I could not hold back the tears, because right away I had imagined in my head of my path to this result. Now on the podium, I just feel crazily happy—it was fireworks inside. It was happiness and an inner smile. It was a good and happy day for me. I have not yet realized that I won, but I feel it. I somehow believed in myself and I am very happy that I was able to rely on myself. I was nervous, but I believed in myself.”

Danielian opened his routine to La Traviata with a solid quad Salchow-Euler-triple Salchow, but then turned out a quad Salchow, stepped out of a triple Axel and fell on a triple Lutz. Despite the mistakes, the 2018 World Junior silver medalist managed to land three clean triples while showing level 4 footwork and two level 4 spins. While he finished fourth (162.11) in the free skate, his total score of 246.74 brought him up one spot to second overall.

“It wasn’t my best skate,” said the Russian silver medalist. “I did all the difficult jumps and fell on the Lutz. It was a very stupid mistake. I am very happy to be on the podium, but for the moment, I am still analyzing my skate and not thinking of the medal yet. I have to work more and improve my skills, it’s just the beginning for me. It was a big surprise to win a medal at my first Europeans. I’m happy and even more motivated to skate.”

Georgia’s Morisi Kvitelashvili landed a quad Salchow-double toe and quad toe-double toe, but fell on a solo quad toe. Nevertheless, he produced a solid triple Axel as well as four more clean triples. The 2019 CS Golden Spin of Zagreb  silver medalist also showed good spins and level 4 footwork to finish third (163.94) in his free skate to “Confessa.” With a total score of 246.71, he missed the silver by just .03 points, but became the first man from his country to win a European Championship medal.

“I am very, very pleased to be finally on the podium,” said the 24-year-old. “I’ve dreamed for a long time about this. Obviously, it is a shame that not all elements worked out. I wanted to skate my best performance and do a cleaner program. I’ll continue to work on that and hope it will work out in the future. I’ll try to do my best at Worlds. My program is about a significant person in a life. There is a picture of a woman on my costume. It depicts an image of a lover or ex-lover. It’s about looking for a love, finding and losing it.”

Daniel Grassl of Italy earned a new personal best of 168.27 after his powerful routine to music from the Single Man and Nocturnal Animals soundtracks. The 2019 World Junior bronze medalist landed a quad Lutz and quad flip, but the quad loop was called underrotated. He also underrotated the back end of a triple loop-triple toe and triple Lutz-Euler-triple Salchow. However, the triple Axel was clean, as was a triple Lutz-triple toe, and the 17-year-old earned a level 4 on two spins as well as his footwork. He finished second in the free skate and rose from 11th to fourth overall (244.88).

“I am very happy about my program today,” said the skater who won both his Challenger events this season. “I was a little bit nervous, but everything went as I expected. I got some underrotated jumps, which I didn’t feel, but I will work on it and try to improve for my next competition.”

“I heard how loud the public was clapping,” he added. “I am very grateful for their support and I am pleased that I could make them happy. My favorite thing about today’s free program is that I skated with all my heart and I gave everything that I hat to the public.”

Italy’s Matteo Rizzo underrotated and fell on a quad toe and doubled a triple Lutz in his routine to “Galicia Flamenca,” but landed two impressive triple Axels, one in combination with a triple toe, as well as a triple flip-Euler-triple Salchow and triple Lutz-double toe. The defending bronze medalist scored 157.94 points for fifth in the free skate and overall (237.01).

“What I have done is OK,” said the 21-year-old. “It was not my competition at all. I don’t really know what happened. On the first Lutz, I was a little bit off balance before the take off. After that, I just tried to focus on the rest of the program. Overall, I did quite a few mistakes, most of them because of a loss of concentration. But it’s ok, I mean, it’s a tough season for me because it’s between the Olympics. Now we’ll go back home, relax my mind and have a little chat with my coaches about what happened here.”

Deniss Vasiljevs of Latvia struggled in his free skate to “Lotus Feet,” underrotating a triple Axel and the back end of a triple Lutz-triple Salchow, but landed a triple Axel-double toe and showed strong level 4 footwork and spins. The 2019 CS Nepela Memorial bronze medalist placed seventh in the free skate and slipped from fifth to sixth overall (232.67).

“My injury has been really well treated, but it disturbed the few weeks of preparation before the competition,” explained the 20-year-old. “Coming to this competition was hard, but right now I am really proud and satisfied, because no matter how hard it was to come here, no matter how painful it was, I actually came here and did my best. It is still painful—especially during the second triple Axel because of the landing and my boots which are getting soft. From now on, I will need some rest, then skate at the Nordics, my next competition, and hopefully get ready for Worlds.”

Germany’s Paul Fentz, who stood in sixth after the short, landed a solid quad toe and triple Axel-triple toe, but turned out a triple Lutz and singled an Axel. The 27-year-old from Berlin finished ninth in the free skate and eighth overall (230.01).

“I am very happy with my performance despite this one mistake with the single Axel,” said the skater. “I don’t really know what happened. I might just have slipped away on the take off. I enjoyed these Europeans since day one and there was a happy end with 230 points, which is my new season’s best and also my personal best score. I couldn’t be happier. Today’s skate showed that hard work is always paying off at one point sooner or later.”

Overnight leader Michal Brezina of the Czech Republic struggled with his quad jumps, taking two falls, and placed 11th in the Free Skate to slip to seventh overall (231.25).

“I didn’t feel nervous,” said the 29-year-old. “I just felt like I needed a minute more just to get my feet under myself because I felt a little bit shaky and everything at the beginning was rushed. At the end, it was fine, it’s what I do everyday in practice. But it’s top ten again this year, for the 11th time. Who else can say that!?”

Vladimir Litvintsev of Azerbaijan rose from 17th to ninth overall (221.09).

“I’m satisfied with my free skating,” said the 2020 Mentor Torun Cup Champion. “I did almost all I can do. Can’t say that these championships were different compared to the other competitions. Now I’m going to prepare for the World Junior Championships and for Worlds in Montreal.”

Russia’s Alexander Samarin, finished 10th overall (220.43) after he struggled with jumps again in his free skate.

“I popped a jump, and missed some,” noted the Russian bronze medalist. “Just a huge thank to everyone who came here to support, who watches from home and to my team who works with me and supports me. It’s not the skate I was looking for and it’s hard to explain. I’m healthy, am feeling well. I changed the boots after the New Year’s, but it’s not a reason to fail. Yes, they are not as comfortable as they could be, but again, it’s not an excuse. After all, I landed all my jumps in the practices, I am in a very good shape…there is no excuse.”

Adam Siao Him Fa of France rose from 24th to 11th (219.89) place after finishing sixth in the short. The 2019 CS Ice Star bronze medalist had to hang onto the landings of most of his jumps, but secured three quads and four triple jumps.

“Yesterday was a disaster, but I found motivation to deliver this performance,” said the 18-year-old. ” My coach (Brian Joubert) also helped me a lot. I felt lucky to have the chance to skate my free skate. I was sure I would not even qualify, but I got the chance to do it. I did not change the layout I was supposed to do in the first place. Since I have not been training on the quadruple Lutz since December because I changed my boots, we decided not to put it in the free skate today.”