2024 European Figure Skating Championships: Pairs
Italy’s Lucrezia Beccari and Matteo Guarise clinched unexpected gold at the 2024 European Figure Skating Championships title in Kaunas, Lithuania. Anastasiia Metelkina and Luka Berulava of made history by capturing the silver, the first medal for a pair team from Georgia. Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini of Italy rose from fifth to pocket the bronze, their second medal at this event.
Lucrezia Beccari and Matteo Guarise
Beccari and Guarise nailed their compelling routine to “Run,” opening with a level-four triple twist and side-by-side triple toes. The throw triple loop was solid, and they earned a level four on their lift. The 2023 NHK Trophy silver medalists scored up a new personal best of 67.05 points for third place in the short program.
“I think that we skated very well,” said Beccari. “We did our best. And for me it was good, but we didn’t get the level in the spiral. It was level 2. For me it is strange, because for me it was good.”
“It will be a tight competition,” added Guarise. “It is very strong. You know we skated strong, we skated powerful. I’m happy, she’s happy and we will keep going in the free skate. We lost points because of the levels. We could do 70 today, but that’s ok. Next time. We can do a little bit better, but we are happy about our performance.”
It should be noted that this is only their second season as a team. They were seventh last year at this event.
Their entertaining routine to music from Cats was very good, but not flawless. The national silver medalists opened with a huge level-four triple twist which earned very high grades of execution (GOE). However, Beccari singled the second jump in the side-by-side triple toe-double Axel-double Axel sequence and the last jump was underrotated. She scraped by on the triple Salchows but landed a very solid throw triple loop and throw triple Salchow. All three lifts and the spin were graded a level four and they placed first in the free skate with a new personal best of 132.14. Their total score of 199.19, also a personal best, was enough to capture the first spot on the podium.
“We ‘exploded’ three times today!” said Guarise regarding waiting for their final result. “The first was in the Kiss & Cry when we got a medal. Then we had silver and then we had gold!”
“We worked so hard for this result, he added. “Lately, the short program was always ok, but in the long, we couldn’t make it. Today we wanted to do it, not for the rank, but for ourselves. It’s really amazing to be European Champions. Yesterday in the press conference, with this small medal that I already had had before, I said I want to go home with another one. It was so hard this time, but we really wanted it. We work so hard, and the result is coming out and we are very happy.”
“I still didn’t realize what happened today,” said Beccari. “I’m very happy because of our performance because we did what we know we can do. Of course, I’m really happy for the medal because it’s my first important medal. I’m very happy and excited. Our teammates Rebecca and Filippo and Sara and Niccolò helped us a lot and are part of a strong team. So, I hope we can all celebrate together.”
“I’m so happy to be here with Matteo because when I was younger, I tried pairs but I had an accident,” she added. “But I always liked pairs more than singles, so I’m so happy to try it again and to be here with a medal.”
Anastasiia Metelkina and Luka Berulava
Metelkina and Berulava gave a fun and brilliant short program to a jazzy version of “Summertime” in their very first senior-level competition. They opened with a huge level-four triple twist and very good side-by-side triple Salchows. The 2023-24 Junior Grand Prix Final champions were on fire, delivering a solid throw triple Lutz with +1.51 GOE. The team also picked up a level four on the lift, spin and death spiral. They scored a new personal best of 71.30 points.
“It was our best performance of the season. Everything was up to the maximum today,” said Berulava. “Just maybe the last part of the step sequence could have been a bit cleaner. However, I am a bit disappointed about the score. I had hoped for a little more, but it is still our first competition (senior level) and we’ll continue to work.”
Metelkina felt calm throughout the program and said that it “didn’t feel different from other competitions.” She also gave a shoutout to choreographer Sergei Plishkin who selected the music for both programs.
“I had my doubts at first,” she admitted. “Maybe because I don’t listen to this kind of music, but I relied on the taste of Sergei. Luka also liked them, and the programs turned out really great and memorable. Thank you to everyone who supports us! It is really motivating!”
The overnight leaders didn’t fare as well in their free skate to “The Millionaire Waltz,” placing fifth in that segment (124.84). Metelkina took a fall on the side-by-side triple Salchows and singled the second jump in the triple toe-double Axel-double Axel sequence. However, the level-four triple twist was one of the best in this competition, earning +2.40 GOE. They also picked up a level four on all three lifts and the triple flip and throw triple loop were solid. Thanks to a solid short, their total score 196.14 was enough to keep them on the podium for second place overall.
“Today not everything worked out,” noted Berulava. “But it’s only our first season together and silver is also a medal. I am happy about that. At this level of competition, it matters who is the strongest mentally. We did not expect this outcome. But this is sport, and we will continue to work hard. This is only our first season, and you can’t have everything right away.”
“For me the most important thing is to skate clean, and this didn’t happen today,” added Metelkina. “After the fall of the Salchow, I already knew it wouldn’t be enough to win. But silver is a good result as this is a very serious and big competition.”
Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini
Ghilardi and Ambrosini scored 64.87 for fifth place with their short program to “L’Estasi Dell’Oro” and “The Ecstasy of Gold.” Their program featured a triple twist, side-by-side double Axels and throw triple Lutz. The death spiral and steps were only graded a level one and two, respectively.
“We are happy with our performance!” said Ghilardi. “We did our job and couldn’t be prouder. We did what we wanted to do, and the performance was really good.”
The 2023 European silver medalists delivered a dramatic and magnificent free skate to music from Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Their routine included a level-four triple twist, intricate level-four lifts and a throw triple Lutz. The only mistakes came when Ghilardi landed her side-by-side triple Salchow on the quarter and touched down with her free leg on a throw triple loop. They scored a new personal best in both the free skate and total score (130.81/195.68) finishing second in the free skate and third overall.
“We are super happy!” said Ghilardi. “This was the best skate of the season for sure. It’s amazing that the audience was so supportive. It means a lot to us. It was a big goal to be on the podium. It was a really strong competition, but we never compare ourselves to others. We just want to make our best. This medal means a lot for us as well as the one last season.”
Maria Pavlova and Alexei Sviatchenko
Maria Pavlova and Alexei Sviatchenko of Hungary made no mistakes in their short program to “Another One Bites the Dust.” Their routine featured a level-four triple twist, lift and spin. The 2023 Skate Canada silver medalists also delivered side-by-side triple toes and a throw triple flip which earned +1.21 GOE. They placed fourth (65.29) going into the free skate.
“We weren’t really nervous, just a bit shaky ahead of the first twist,” said Pavlova. “I think we did well, but I am not happy with the score. It’s not going up.”
“I was much more nervous than her,” admitted Sviatchenko.
The two-time national champions gave a solid performance with their interesting free skate to “My Perception of Love” and “Iron 2021.” They gave it everything they had and were nearly flawless. The triple twist was high and received a level four and +1.54 GOE. Pavlova landed the second jump of a triple toe-double Axel-double Axel on the quarter, but that was the only mistake. The triple Salchows, throw triple flip and throw triple loop were solid. The group five reverse lift received a level four, but the other two lifts were graded a level three. The team placed third in the free skate with a new personal best of 128.73. Their total score (194.02) was also a personal best and they maintained fourth place overall.
They were not happy.
“Our motivation goes down every time we keep getting these scores,” said Pavlova. “We did our best. This is our second year together and still we keep getting these scores despite giving everything we can. Maybe our coach can talk to the judges after the competition to get an explanation.”
Minerva Fabienne Hase and Nikita Volodin
Germany’s Minerva Fabienne Hase and Nikita Volodin were smooth in their routine to “Stay” by Rihanna, picking up 69.63 for second place in the short program. The 2023-24 Grand Prix Final champions showed a beautiful level-three triple twists which earned mostly +4 GOEs across the board. All other elements were clean, including the triple Salchows, throw triple loop and level-four lift. They also picked up a level four for the combination spin.
Hase was very pleased despite being nervous.
“I didn’t know what would come out of it. I had a strange feeling all day, therefore I was happy that I was able to pull myself together like that,” she said. “We lost a few levels therefore we got only 69 points. It happens, we can’t change it and there is another day tomorrow and we’ll attack.”
The team only had 10 days to prepare for the event after Hase became ill.
“I feel that the programs are still harder to skate than usual and I felt a bit funny today,” she said. “Maybe it was just nerves because the pressure is on, although I don’t want to put pressure on myself. I’m more than happy that we skated as well as we did.”
Volodin said he doesn’t feel pressure.
“We did run throughs of the programs. We tried to do our job,” he said. “I made a little error on the Salchow, because the landing was not good. I saved it, but nevertheless we lost a few points. We lost something here and there, in the footwork too. We’ll look at it and put emphasis on what the judges noted.”
Unfortunately, the national champions struggled in their free skate to “The Path of Silence” and “Power of Mind.” The triple twist was only graded a level two and Hase turned out the last jump in the triple toe-double Axel-double Axel sequence. While the triple Salchows and throw triple Salchow were clean, she then fell on the throw triple loop. Later, the team aborted a group five Axel lift, leaving a costly minimum of eight points on the table. They finished sixth in the free skate and fifth overall (121.06/190.69).
“I don’t know what happened on the second lift. Usually, the lift is an easy element for us,” said Hase. “The mistake on the throw can happen. We have another chance to show what we can do at Worlds. I actually felt confident today but was tense during the program. It was very annoying that it happened on the lift.”
“We have to appreciate what we have already achieved this season,” she added. “It was the first competition where we went in as the favorites. It’s a new situation for us also as a team and we have to get used to it.”
Sara Conti and Niccolo Macii
Defending champions Sara Conti and Niccolo Macii of Italy struggled in the beginning of their short program to “Cavalleria Rusticana Intermezzo,” placing seventh (61.52). Conti stepped out of the landing on the throw triple loop and underrotated her jump on the side-by-side triple Salchows. However, the second half was clean, and they picked up a level four on the lift, steps and spin.
“This is not our program,” said Conti. “We made so many errors. The throw loop, the Salchow, there were a lot of mistakes. I don’t know why. The practices were so good, it was a good day. I don’t know how many clean shorts we did. I am super sad right now. The pressure was so high. This is our competition, and last Europeans went so well. I did not expect this.”
The 2023 World bronze medalists rebounded with their expressive routine music from Cinema Paradiso, but it seemed a bit more labored than usual. Macii singled the Axel in a triple toe-double Axel-double Axel sequence, but the triple Salchows were clean. They also produced a solid throw triple loop and throw triple Salchow. All three lifts were graded a level four and they posted 125.73 points for fourth place in the free skate. With a total score of 187.25, the team moved up one spot to sixth overall.
“We were running behind the music all the time. That was really challenging,” explained Macii. “I also thought that Sara had stepped out of the toe, so I did a single Axel. This was just not our Europeans.”
“I don’t want to look into the past and don’t want to remember last season,” added Conti. “We have to look into the future. We have to take it as an experience to move further.”
Annika Hocke and Rober Kunkel
Germany’s Annika Hocke and Rober Kunkel opened their rock-and-roll short program with a level-four triple twist, but then Hocke doubled her jump on the side-by-side triple Salchows. She quickly recovered to land a huge throw triple Lutz, and the team picked up a level four on the lift and spin. The 2023 European bronze medalists placed sixth (62.52) going into the free skate.
“I was a bit upset about the Salchow,” Hocke admitted. “I trained the single jumps so much by myself over the last months. It worked all week; it worked in the warmup. Just the one in competition was bad. But I made a tick behind it. I want to enjoy the competition. I won’t be too hard on myself. Tomorrow there is a new chance, and we are just happy that we are able to be here.”
Kunkel shared that they began skating three weeks ago after he recovered from a back injury. They were fifth after the short program at the 2023-24 Grand Prix Final when they had to withdraw.
“I feel so much better now. I was on the highest allowed dosage of painkillers before,” he said. “We are happy I am able to move again. For me personally it wasn’t even a big deal to cancel the Final as I was literally not able to move. We don’t have any goals concerning points or placements here, we just want to enjoy it.”
The 2023 Skate America champions placed seventh in the free skate and overall (115.23/177.75). Hocke doubled the triple Salchows and Kunkel singled his jumps in the double Axel-single Axel-double Axel sequence. Hocke didn’t have a good running edge on the landing of the throw triple flip, but the throw triple loop was solid. All three lifts were graded a level four while the triple twist was a level two in their routine to “Without You.”
“We didn’t feel any pressure,” said Kunkel. “We had nothing to lose. Of course, mistakes are annoying. Overall, our result is not that bad.”
“I worked so hard on these jumps during Robert’s injury so it’s really disappointing for me right now,” added Hocke. “Emotions have been such a rollercoaster this season. We won Skate America, qualified for the Final, then had to withdraw. Then making it here and now the mistakes. It’s been a lot.”
Rounding out the top 10
Daria Danilova and Michel Tsiba of the Netherlands placed eighth (167.32), followed by Great Britain’s Anastasia Vaipan-Law and Luke Digby (159.01) and Ioulia Chtchetinina and Michal Wozniak of Poland (154.91)
France’s Camille Kovalev and Pavel Kovalev, who were 15th after the short, withdrew from the event prior to the free skate due to illness.