2023 European Figure Skating Championships
Men’s Free Skate
Adam Siao Him Fa of France struck gold at the 2023 European Figure Skating Championships on Friday in his third appearance at this event. It was the first time a French man has won the European title since Florent Amodio in 2011. Matteo Rizzo of Italy, who won bronze in 2019, captured the silver, while Switzerland’s Lukas Britschgi rose to snatch the bronze.
Fa took a fall on a quad toe in the second half of his routine to selections by Woodkid, but had already landed a quad toe-double toe and triple Axel. He also turned out the landing and put a foot and hand down on a quad Salchow, but the 2022 Grand Prix de France Champion had a 10-point lead going into the free skate that saved him. The skater also picked up a level four on all spins and footwork, scoring 171.24 for second place in the free skate. With a total score of 267.77, the 21-year-old managed to maintain first overall.
“I am good at hiding my emotions, but I am very happy,” said Fa. “It is something to be European Champion. I realize that hard work pays off and I have to continue like this. I had a difficult week of training which was very stressful, more stressful than the competition, but I think it helped me a lot. Now I have to prepare for the next events.”
Fa went on to explain that he tried to stay focus and stay in his “bubble,” studying, reading books, listening to music, and playing video games.
“I did a lot of things that made me think of something else,” he said. “The day of the free skating was stressful, but just like I said, I wanted to skate, so I told myself to stay calm and enjoy the moment. In my program, I knew it wasn’t a victory yet, there were errors, but I fought until the end. I did not let go, I fought for everything, each element counts. I know that I am on the right way and I need to continue to work like this.”
Rizzo put a foot down on a his opening quad toe, but the rest of his routine to music by Bruno Mars was solid. The 2019 European bronze medalist landed a quad loop and six clean triple jumps, including two triple Axels. His flying sit spin received a level four, while his footwork was graded a level three, and he earned a new season’s best of 173.46 for a first-place finish in the free skate. With a total score of 259.92, he easily maintained second place overall.
When the skater finished his routine, he screamed, ‘Vamos!’
“I really worked a lot for this, and I’m happy that I proved myself that the work that I did was good,” said the 24-year-old. “There were mistakes, but overall, I was happy and I had to release all the tension. So I was screaming so loud because this is the best way to release the tension I think. There was a lot of emotion, because (of) the past month that I worked really hard in practice, and I wanted to show what we have done with my team. I really want to thank my team, because they are supporting me and giving me their best.”
Thus far, Rizzo has had a busy season, competing at three challenger series and two grand prix events.
“This is a long-term job,” he said. “It ends in Milano-Cortina (at the) Olympics, so this is only a small step towards the big goal.”
Britschgi had some tight landings on his jumps, but pulled off a solid quad toe-double toe and quad toe which were rewarded with positive grades of execution (GOE). While he doubled a loop, the 2022 CS Budapest Trophy silver medalist landed five clean triple jumps and earned a level four on two spins. He scored a new personal best of 168.75 for third place in the free skate, and with a total score of 248.01, rose up two spots to claim the bronze.
“I’m just really relieved,” said the 24-year-old. “Such a program with only four weeks of training. I was completely dying at the end! I had no energy left, but it’s even more nice that I was able to do it. I also obviously had a lot of fun. It was amazing to skate here in Finland again, the crowd is amazing, such a nice place to skate. It was a long day, but in the end, a successful one. We had really a lot of fun here in Finland. We all got amazing support here, so thank you!”
The skater was off the ice for four to five weeks after falling off a bike and breaking his collarbone.
“I was off the ice until Christmas, then I was able to train again,” he said. “And now I’m here. The preparation was very intensive, because I knew that if I wanted to achieve something here, I have to train really hard. It was really strenuous, but I was able to regenerate well for the Europeans. Everything went like I had planned.”
Britschgi will remain in Finland until Wednesday to visit the country, and then will get back to work and prepare for worlds.
France’s Kevin Aymoz fought hard through his “Gladiator” routine, but struggled with the jumps. The 25-year-old put a hand and foot down on the opening quad toe, stepped out of a slightly underrotated triple Axel (in combination with a double toe), and received an edge call on the triple flip. Two spins were graded a level four, while the footwork received a level three, but those elements wracked up many positive GOEs. The 2019-20 Grand Prix Final bronze medalist finished fourth in the free skate (157.17) and maintained fourth overall (240.92).
It was a bitter pill to swallow for the skater, who was hoping for a medal at this event.
“I felt good in the program,” said Aymoz. “The day was a bit different, I had less stress. I really wanted to go for it. I have no regrets about my performance. I am grateful for everything. I’ve been fighting for the podium for four years and I think I have the ability to get there.”
Deniss Vasiljevs of Latvia underrotated and stepped out his opening quad Salchow and slightly underrotated a triple loop and triple Lutz in his routine to Dvořák’s “Symphony No. 9 in E Minor.” The defending bronze medalist managed a clean triple Axel, triple flip, and triple Lutz-Euler-double Salchow, while displaying strong level-four spins and footwork throughout. He placed sixth in the free skate (151.54) and slipped from third to fifth overall (236.35).
“It was not the performance I was hoping for,” said the 23-year-old. “I messed up somewhere.”
Vasiljevs wasn’t sure what went wrong on the quad Salchow.
“It’s a bit difficult to say, because I still don’t fully understand the jump,” he said. “I can do it under normal circumstances at home in the practice. I still struggle this season to land even one in competition in the program. So it’s kind of understandable that I haven’t won and that I will continue to struggle. So that’s my personal challenge to overcome. I find that fear and desire and that to be equally bad. I was struggling to let go. I have to keep working and hope I can deliver on the trust of the audience.”
Daniel Grassl finished fifth in the free skate (153.80) after falling on a quad Lutz and underrotating a quad flip and triple Axel. His total score was 230.83, and he rounded out the top six men.
“I’m okay,” said the 20-year-old. “I fought (a lot). I was stressed and pressured, but I’m happy how much I fought for it, and it’s like that. I will prepare now better for the next competition, and for sure, I will fight for it. The next competition, maybe it’s going to be Worlds, but they (Italian Federation) still have to decide, and it’s going to be interesting.”
Grassl is unsure of whether he will return to Russia to train in preparation for worlds. “I still don’t know what’s going to be my decision, but I’ll figure that out.”
Nika Egadze of Georgia finished seventh overall (220.65) ahead of Estonia’s Mihhail Selevko (218.30).
Italy’s Gabriele Frangipani slipped from seventh to 10th overall (211.62) after taking three falls, one of which was during the footwork.
“I don’t know what happened in the second half,” said Frangipani. “It’s supposed to be the easier one, but that’s figure skating. There are good and bad days. Right now, I only really want to eat!”