Figure Skating News

Guignard and Fabbri grab elusive gold in Espoo

Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri of Italy perform their Free Dance at the 2023 European Figure Skating Championships.

2023 European Figure Skating Championships
Free Dance

Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri of Italy finally took the European title for Ice Dance at the 2023 European Figure Skating Championships on Saturday. The team had won bronze in both 2019 and 2022. Great Britain’s Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson won their first European medal, the silver, while Juulia Turkkila and Matthias Versluis of France pocketed the bronze for their first medal at this event.

Guignard and Fabbri racked up many positive grades of execution (GOE) in all elements in their haunting free dance to “My Love Will Never Die,” “Mephisto’s Lullaby” and “Eden.” The two-time European bronze medalists picked up a level four on the dance spin and three lifts, however, Guignard received a level three on the twizzles, while Fabbri’s were graded a level four. The circular steps received the highest of GOEs in which she received a level four while his were a level two. The one-foot steps were a level two for her and one for him, and the team scored 124.91 for first place in the free dance and overall (210.44).

“It was not a perfect performance,” admitted Fabbri. “There were some little mistakes, and in the end, we (wondered) if it would be enough. Yesterday, in the rhythm dance, we were very happy with what we did. Today not completely, but it was enough.”

“It has been a long journey to get to this point, and we couldn’t be happier,” he added. “This is the work of a lifetime. A dream came true.”

Fabbri felt that the highlight of their free dance was when they were in the Kiss & Cry and saw their scores.

“We felt ten kilos lighter,” he said. “It’s been a very long day for us. As much as we were prepared for the stress of the competition, today was much harder to handle compared to yesterday. It was tougher to skate tonight, especially because it was pretty late and we were the last to compete. It was not super easy like yesterday.”

Lewis and Gibson achieved the same technical score element score (69.05) as the Italians. The team was energetic throughout their Lady Gaga routine, pulling the audience in all the way. They scored a level four on the two lifts, but the curve lift only received a level three. The dance spin was a level four, and both skaters achieved a level four on their twizzles and level two on the midline steps. She received a level two for the one-foot steps, while his were a level three, and they scored 123.77 for second place in the free dance. With a total score of 207.89, they placed second behind the Italians by just under three points.

“Oh, wow! Yeah, it hasn’t quite sunk in yet,” said Fear. “Well, that is very humbling, very humbled. It was. Oh, my God. How do I even put it into words? It was intense in the best way, because obviously, it’s such an amazing opportunity here. We know that we worked so hard the past few weeks, and we really wanted to put out a performance that reflected that, and we did.”

“There was a little mistake in the steps (midline),” she added, “but I’m so proud of our recovery, our ability to refocus and enjoy the entire program.”

Gibson agreed. “It was really amazing to skate in front of a crowd like that. First of all, the noise before we skated was just like, oh my God, amazing! It was a gift, honestly, of course. There was the mistake, and I’m not very happy about that, but it is what it is. It happens. It’s competition. But as Lilah said, I think the way that we recovered was really professional and strong.”

For Fear, the highlight of the program was the choreo step sequence. “It was a lot of fun!” she said. “I think just with the crowd clapping and being able to really take that in and have so much fun ourselves, it’s something that will stay in my mind for a while.”

“Before we skated, the crowd was electrifying because of the beautiful Finnish team that went before us,” noted Gibson. “So that was such a great energy to perform for, and we’re very thankful for that. And as Lilah said, it was so amazing when we got to perform with everyone behind us as well.”

Turkkila and Versluis produced a flowing routine to “4 Impromptus, Op. 90, D. 899” which featured three level-four lifts. The twizzles were graded a level three, and the skater received a level two (for her) and level three (for him) on both the one-foot and midline steps. The Grand Prix Espoo bronze medalists finished third in the free dance and overall with two new personal best scores (120.65/198.21). They were 11th at this event in 2019.

“It’s an indescribable feeling,” said Turkkila in the mixed zone. “I’m still shaking. I think I’m losing my mind! Amazing, that’s all I can say. We were told to enjoy, but it’s hard when you’re nervous and you have your own expectations and you want to do well. We enjoyed it, even though it was a hard week.”

Turkkila felt that the performance matched that of their routine in training, but that it was “great” that they were able to to it in competition.

“This has been a dream for both of us since we were kids, and now it came true,” she said of their medal. “We still have something to show, and the journey only starts here. Our coach said that it’s the most important that we did what we just did and gave this experience to the audience and to ourselves. That was what we were focusing on, instead of the scores.”

“It feels absolutely amazing!” added Versluis. “I can’t comprehend this. It’s like being still in some kind of a dream. We didn’t take any pressure from being in third place after the rhythm dance, but focused on today. We had to skip the last three Europeans, and now we finally got this far. That was our first goal, to actually get to compete (here). The fact that we can finish it like this, it’s amazing!”

Lithuanians Allison Reed and Saulius Ambrulevicius scored two new personal bests (118.34/195.67) in this event for fourth overall after their free dance to “Insomnia” by Faithless. The ice dancers, who took silver at all three challenger series events this season, engaged the audience, displaying level-four lifts, spin and twizzles. She took a level one on the one-foot steps, while his were a level two. The midline steps were a level two for her and level three for him in this fast-paced routine.

Ambrulevicius felt that skating in the last group was a sign of approval, of recognition.

“It is definitely a motivator,” said Reed. “It is a humbling experience to be in the last group with the top skaters and to know that we made our path there. It means a lot for us.”

Evgeniia Lopareva and Geoffrey Brissaud of France had a goal at this event: to place in the top five. They made it with a total score of 191.85. The Grand Prix de France bronze medalists put out a strong routine to music by Édith Piaf which was highlighted by three level-four lifts and quality level-four twizzles.

Natalie Taschlerova and Filip Taschler of the Czech Republic finished sixth overall (188.34), followed by Loicia Demougeot and Theo Le Mercier of France (179.96) and Georgia’s Maria Kazakova and Georgy Reviya (175.82).

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