2024 European Figure Skating Championships: Women
Loena Hendrickx of Belgium finally clinched the coveted gold at the 2024 Europeans Championships on Saturday in Kaunas, Lithuania. Georgia’s Anastasiia Gubanova rose to claim the silver, while Nina Pinzarrone of Belgium pocketed the bronze—her first medal at this event.
Hendrickx impressed with an explosive short program that featured a solid triple flip and double Axel. The only mistake came when she landed the first jump of a triple Lutz-triple toe on the quarter. The 2023 World bronze medalist received positive grades of execution (GOE) for all elements (except for the combination jump) while picking up level fours along the way. She scored 74.66 points for first place going into the free skate.
“I enjoyed performing today,” said the 24-year-old. “I was a little bit surprised when I saw the scores as it wasn’t as good as in practices. I skated a bit on shaky legs, and I know I can do better. I really fought for the combination in the second half. I know it’s risky, but I wanted to try it. I am very happy that I got level 4 on all the spins and steps as that was not always the case at the last competitions. My preparation was very good. I worked very hard a week ago and then during the last days, I took it a bit easier to not get too tired.”
Last year’s silver medalist gave an intense free skate to “Break My Soul” which included four clean triple jumps. The first half the routine was solid, but then she underrotated the frontend of a triple flip-double toe, putting her foot down on the second jump. She also stepped out of a triple Salchow, but the level-four spins and footwork received very high GOES. She placed first in the free skate and overall (138.59/213.25).
“I knew I worked so hard towards this competition. I knew I could do it,” said Hendrickx of her win. “I think it was one of the best competitions from the enjoyment point of view because normally after the jumps, I start enjoying. But it really felt that after the triple-triple I was relaxed. I know I can do better but I’m super happy because I had so much fun on the ice. There were a lot of nerves. I felt pressure but I tried to enjoy my performance and I think I never enjoyed a program as much as I did here.”
The skater had changed her free skate dress as she didn’t feel confident enough in the old one.
Gubanova placed a close third (68.96) in the short program with her routine to “Mojo.” The defending champion landed a solid triple flip-triple toe, double Axel and triple Lutz. However, only two spins were awarded a level four and the footwork a level three.
“I’m very happy with myself,” said Gubanova. “I managed to do everything I planned. I would like to note that the atmosphere is very warm, calm and kind on the ice. I had a real pleasure to skate here. Of course, I planned everything level 4. I need to look into it and understand why the levels are lower. I don’t feel any pressure. This year I just want to skate well and do everything I planned and get pleasure out of it.”
The 2023 CS Lombardia Trophy champion made two mistakes in her otherwise eloquent free skate to “Caruso.” She two-footed the landing of a triple Salchow and landed the frontend of a triple Lutz-double Axel sequence on the quarter. All other jumps were solid, and she produced five clean triples in all. Two spins and the footwork received a level four, and she placed second in the free skate with a new personal best of 137.56. With a total score of 206.52, she moved up to second place overall.
The 21-year-old said she felt like she was in a fog during the performance.
“Now I’m in a state and not understanding what happened but am so happy!” she said. “I did everything I planned, I’m just really happy. I didn’t expect a medal here at all, I came to have fun.”
Pinzarrone of Belgium was spot on in her short program to “Charms” from the W.E. soundtrack. The 17-year-old landed a solid triple Lutz-triple toe, double Axel and triple loop. All spins and footwork were graded a level four and she scored a new personal best of 69.70 for second place.
“I am really happy!” said Pinzarrone. “I was skating with confidence today and knew I could do it. I knew I could get maybe a spot in the top three here, but I didn’t want to pressure myself too much. I think the Grand Prix Final helped me and gave me some experience as it is the biggest competition of the first half of the season. Loena and I were the only Europeans there.”
The 2023-24 Grand Prix finalist struggled with the first half of free skate, landing the triple Lutz, triple flip and second triple Lutz on the quarter. In the second half, she landed a triple loop on the quarter, but managed a clean triple Salchow and triple loop-double toe. All spins and footwork were graded level four with the layback spin receiving high grades of execution. She placed third (132.59) with her passionate routine to music from Spartacus and slipped to third overall (202.29).
“The most important thing today was that I believed in myself. I’m super happy,” said the national champion. “It’s always been a goal to medal at such an important competition. Just to stand here, it’s amazing! I had quite some nerves before. I had to skate last and it’s a long time waiting, but I knew I could do it, so I’m quite happy with my performance.”
Livia Kaiser of Switzerland earned a new personal best of 66.31 for her short program to “Lost Without You.” The national bronze medalist landed a strong triple Lutz-triple toe, double Axel and triple flip. Two spins and the footwork were graded a level four.
“I am super happy about my skate today,” said Kaiser. “I showed today what I trained for, and I am very happy with the score. My goal at this competition is to show two strong skates and show what I can, and I am happy that I managed this today. Half of the job is done.”
The 19-year-old gave a rousing free skate, placing fourth in this segment with a new personal best (128.41). The only mistakes came when she landed the frontend of a triple flip-double Axel on the quarter and underrotated the last jump in a triple Lutz-double toe-double loop. All spins and footwork were graded a level four, and she landed a total of six clean triples.
“I am super, super happy. I was more confident than at previous competitions, as I knew I was well prepared. That was the difference to previous competitions I guess. I changed my FP ahead of Swiss nationalsas I wanted something fresh and new. It worked well for me it seems. I dreamed of scoring a PB here but didn’t have any number in mind. I still could do a little bit better but honestly, I am super pleased.”
Lorine Schild of France produced a triple Lutz-triple toe, triple loop and double Axel in her short to “Ojos De Serpiente.” All three spins received a level four and she finished sixth in the short with a new personal best (63.27).
“I’m very satisfied with what I’ve done on the ice,” Schild said of her performance. “In addition, I got the best score of the season, and a personal one as well. I’m happy that it happened here, as often it is difficult to get best scores at big competitions.”
“I’m very happy to be here,” she added of her debut at this event. “Especially because last season I was hoping to participate, but in the end, I wasn’t there. So I’m very satisfied this time. It shows that I improved a lot and of course I’m super pleased to be here. My goal here is to be in top 10 and to bring spots for France for the next year.”
The national champion earned another personal best (120.59) for her sixth-place free skate to “Hell to the Liars.” Her routine featured three clean triple jumps and two spins were awarded a level four along with the footwork.
“I am so happy! My goal here was making the top 10 and now being top fifth feels incredible!” said the 19-year-old. “I am so happy I was able to recover from the initial two shaky jumps. A free skate is long so it’s easier to recover from mistakes than a short program. I think my second half of the program was really strong.”
Italy’s Sarina Joos finished sixth overall (180.83) in her debut at this event. The half-Swiss and half-Italian skater was ninth (59.82) after the short program. Her ethereal free skate to “A Beautiful Storm” featured four clean triple jumps and level-four spins and footwork. She earned a season’s best of 121.01 for this beautiful routine.
“I am so incredibly happy. I am glad I could show what I do in practices,” said the 17-year-old. “It was my dream to participate in a competition like this.”
The year was a long wait for the skater who switched countries from Switzerland to Italy.
“It was of course not easy, but I was so looking forward to competing for Italy, and that made the wait easier,” she said. “My little sister is also competing this weekend. I hope she will do well later today. It’s great fun doing the same sport as my sister and to do everything together.”
She would love to participate in in both Junior and Senior Worlds and will wait for the Italian Skating Federation’s decision.
Kimmy Repond of Switzerland finished eighth (60.34) in the short program. The bronze medalist from last year put a foot down on a triple flip-triple toe and fell on a triple Lutz.
“I had an injury on my hip, and it was actually really hard to recover,” Repond explained. “But I felt well here and well prepared. Of course, preparation was still a bit short, but I wanted to fully recover before going back on the ice. I was pretty pleased about today apart from the Lutz. I will fight in the free skate. I worked a lot on my spins and on the height of my jumps and I am happy it shows.”
In her free skate to “Freya,” the 2023 Nebelhorn Trophy bronze medalist landed a triple flip-triple toe but turned out a triple Lutz. She also stepped out of triple loop and underrated a triple Salchow, but the triple flip-double toe-double loop was clean. Two spins and the footwork received a level four, and she finished seventh in in the free skate and overall (120.48/180.82).
“I am a bit disappointed,” said the 17-year-old. “I did some mistakes that I don’t usually do. Physically, I felt fit and well prepared. I rather maybe felt some nerves because I haven’t been back in training for too long.”
She is very excited to do Art on Ice next and will then prepare for Worlds.
Rounding out the top 10
Ekaterina Kurakova of Poland struggled throughout the short program and did not qualify for the free skate.
“I was trying my best and it didn’t work today unfortunately,” said Kurakova. “But such is sport. Unfortunately, things like this happen and there is no choice, and I can’t give up. I will continue to work hard. It happened; it is sad but it’s also part of the work. It will kill me at some point, or I will become stronger, those are the only 2 options.”
“I really appreciate it (support from the crowd) and it’s the people why I’m skating,” she added. “I’m grateful for all who came here. I’m sorry I didn’t skate well today. I did my best and it didn’t work but I will be fine.”