Monday, February 7, 2011

Catching up with 2011 European Championships

There were quite a few interesting developments in this year’s European Championships (which took place the same weekend as the U.S. Nationals), so before we get any deeper into February I’d like to bring several to your attention… (in no particular order)

+ Sarah Meier won… and promptly retired. In what has to be one of the most unexpected happy endings this sport has seen in quite some time, the oft-injured Swiss Champion specifically retained her amateur status in order to compete at THIS event, for it was held in her home country this year… and then she won! I have to think that, especially in light of all the physical pain she’s endured in the past few years, this victory was at least as sweet for Meier as any Olympic or world medal could’ve been. At first I thought But she can’t retire now, she’s gotta go give Worlds one more shot! But the more I think about it, the more I get it. And the more I think about the pain etched in her face when she took that awful fall in her SP at last year’s Worlds, the more I applaud her decision. (For the record, her best Worlds finish was 6th in both 2006 and 2008.)

+ Florent Amodio won the Europeans Men’s event, but it wasn’t for a better-late-than-never lack of trying on Brian Joubert’s part. Saddled with only the 7th best SP in the opening round, Joubert pulled out all the stops (or as many as he can manage currently) to execute the best FS of the event, skating the way he surely would have preferred to skate about 11 months ago… and finish all the way up in the silver medal slot! Which just goes to show you still can’t count him out—even if he makes it so very easy to do.

+ The bronze medal went to Tomas Verner—who returned his quad to the free skate in grand style, but then fell out of a triple axel. As always, I look forward to the time when he can put it all together…

+ Fourth place went to Kevin van der Perren, who’s still got “it”… in this case, “it” being a clean quad, a clean triple axel, and not much else (although I believe he was technically clean on all his other jumps too).

+ What happened to Michal Brezina, you may have wondered? After all, he started the event in 2nd place but finished way down in 8th… was it a total crash and burn on his free skate (which is still to “American in Paris” in case you were wondering)? Not exactly. Yes, he fell twice (I believe the first fall was a quad attempt), but he also nailed both triple axels and several other jumps. I think his 10th place FS is more a testament to the depth of the European men in this event more than an out-and-out failure on Brezina’s part.

+ If you’re surprised to see me talking about the depth of the European men’s field (as opposed to, say, the Japanese men’s field), consider this: of the top five male finishers at Euros, four of them executed beautiful quads in the free skate. (Yes, gold-medalist Amodio won without one, but like Ryan Bradley in the U.S., his win came largely on the strength of his SP. He only pulled in the third-best FS.) I hate to sound like all the commentators who love to say that World’s success is going to be about the quads, but… let’s just say I hope Bradley (the only U.S. man at Worlds with a quad) remembers to pack his when he gets ready for Tokyo.

+ The dance event didn’t pull many surprises based on previous performances this season—Pechalat/Bourzat won gold, Bobrova/Soloviev took silver, and Kerr/Kerr claimed the bronze. Perhaps the most noticeable placement in the whole event was that Italy’s Faiella/Scali way down in 9th place after the SD (though they rebounded to 5th place by event’s end). Did he trip over her skirt yet AGAIN? You may wonder. No, but she botched up her twizzles pretty badly.

+ Over in pairs, Savcheko/Szolkowy won the pairs event… but take a look at their free skate (
Clip of the Day), particularly the side-by-side spins at 1:40 where Savchenko loses her edge, loses the spin, and barely even tries to catch back up to Szolkowy… standing there awkwardly for several seconds instead. I understand that freak mistakes happen, but given the quality of the silver medal Kavaguti/Smirnov performance (another Clip of the Day), I'm not sure S & S should have won this time.

Coming up in under two weeks… Four Continents! Yes, already.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

About Brian Joubert - what you said about him made me smile. I'm a Joubert-fan, and it is a nerve-wracking business, I can assure you! :)