In anticipation of the upcoming European Figure Skating Championships, which will begin on Monday, January 21st, I'm doing a quick preview. This post will just be Ladies, but I will briefly preview the other 3 disciplines in another post.
It's really a testament the strength of the North American/Asian skaters that there are 3, maybe 4 medal challengers here for the podium. 5 of the top 10 finishers from last years Euros (Korpi, Korobeynikova, Makarova, Leonova, and Silété) won't be at this years Euros. Korpi has an Achilles injury, Silété is injured, and none of the 3 Russians made the team.
Last year's winner, Carolina Kostner of Italy, has competed in two competitions this seasons: the Golden Spin of Zagreb, which she easily won with legit scores (not the overly inflated scores she received last season), and the Italian Championships, which she won with the world's most ridiculous FS score ever: 143.56. Domestic scoring in all countries is usually inflated, but this passes the border of ridiculous. Kostner skates with the technical level of a Junior skater, not a senior skater who has been in the senior ranks for 10 years, has 4 World medals, 4 European titles, and 2 Olympic appearances. Kostner has an excellent chance of defending her title, but not if the Russians have anything to say about it.
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva of Russia, who has finally reached age eligibility for senior ISU Championship events after spending what seems like forever in the junior ranks. Don't take this to mean that I've been waiting and waiting for her to turn senior. Something needs to happen to her flailing arms and Leonova-esque choreography before she shows up at Worlds and expects to win a medal. Elizaveta has had solid showings this year, with a silver at Trophee Eric Bompard and the second-best FS at the GPF during that splatfest. However, in this insanely weak field, Tuktamysheva should have no problem medaling here at her first European Championships, as long as she lands her triples, which usually don't give her a problem.
Adelina Sotnikova of Russia is also age-eligible for ISU Championships this year. Remember that she was born a few hours in July 1st, which made her ineligible for last year's Euros and Worlds by a matter of hours. I can't imagine how pissed off that has always made her. Anyways, despite her absurdly tacky Christina Aguilera/blues/jazz FS, her jumps combined with the weak field should most likely get her a medal. If she goes splat on a jump or two, which she seems to have taken a liking to, she'll still most likely finish in the top 5.
Nikol Gosviyani, also of Russia, is the surprise 3rd member on the team, after being the 3rd highest senior lady at Russian Nationals. Nikol is completely untested internationally (except for 3 minor competitions several years ago), let alone on big stages like the European Championships. She did excellently during Nationals, but there's no telling how she'll do under the pressure of Euros. She could either do well and place in the top 6, or completely implode under pressure and be buried in the standings. I honestly have no idea what to expect.
Elene Gedevanishvili of Georgia, has become increasingly tackier as the seasons go on, but still should depress us all by placing in the top 10 by shaking her DDs around and landing a bunch of sloppy triples, doubles, and popped jumps. She has almost no chance of defending her bronze medal from last year, but she will still most likely place in the top 10. Will she ever go away?
Given her success so far with two straight international wins, albeit it at minor events, Jenna McCorkell of Great Britain will also very likely place in the top 10, as long as she keeps her thoughts focused on the ice and not on her husband at home.
Maé Bérénice Méité of France, seems to have taken the idea of "skate like your idols" to a whole new level. Her programs are so reminiscent of the horrors that her idol, Surya Bonaly, used to scar our eyes with, along with horrendously ugly costumes that have no relation to the music at all, it looks like it's Surya back out there at first glance. Given her absurdly high scores so far this season, she will most likely place in the top 10 as well.
Others to watch:
Valentina Marchei of Italy, 8th at Euros and Worlds last year, should most likely be in the top 10.
The Helgesson sisters of Sweden, could place anywhere from 7th to 24th. Look out.
Excuse my Austrian side for a moment here. Kerstin Frank, 30th at Euros and 21st Worlds last season, should place somewhere around there. Look for a completely uninspired performance, complete with jumps with zero flow out of them, and sloppy as hell spins. I had to mention her, given that I'm half-Austrian, whether I think she's a good skater or not.
Look for a podium that will most likely consist of Kostner, Tuktamysheva, and Sotnikova, in any order. Kostner will most likely get a reigning Euro and World champion bonus, whether she actually deserves it or not.
I'll do a quick preview of Men's, Pairs, and Dance soon (basically who will most likely be on the podium).