Tutberidze : The European Figure Skating Championship will take place in Tallinn from 12 to 16 January. The Russian national team came to the tournament as the main favorite. Two years ago, our skaters won the maximum number of gold medals, and this time the chances of success are no less, because those who are likely to become Olympic champions will come to Tallinn. MK-Sport has selected the main questions, the answers to which we will receive in Tallinn.
1. Will the Russians win 12 out of 12 medals?
The figure skaters of the Russian national team in the Olympic season are very good: the Grand Prix series has become truly Russian – in the final, our athletes had 12 places out of 24 possible. Women’s single skating in Russia has long known no competition in the face of foreign rivals, and a worthy generation has grown up in sports pairs, not knowing defeats in this Olympic season. Things are going well in ice dancing, where two Russian couples impose a fight on leaders from France Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Sizeron. By the way, they will not be in Tallinn. So Russia has even more chances to win gold in each discipline.
If in dances, sports couples and singles the victory of Russians may not be only in force majeure situations, then singles for the “gold” will have to sweat. The instability of Mark Kondratyuk, Yevgeny Semenenko and Andrei Mozalev can play a bad joke on them, and the Russians have experienced fighters in the face of Kevin Aymo from France, Maurice Kvitelashvili from Georgia and Denis Vasiliev from Latvia.
Moreover, in all disciplines, except for men’s single skating, you can count on purely Russian pedestals. Two years ago, at the European Championships in Graz (Austria), the Russian national team (not in such a strong composition as now) had 10 medals out of 12 possible. This year there is a chance to set an absolute record – 12 out of 12.
2. What is Shcherbakova capable of?
Anna Shcherbakova , oddly enough, is the weak link in the top three participants of the European Championship from Russia. The current world champion entered the Olympic season with difficulty – a long recovery from an injury affected the skater’s performances at the Grand Prix stages. There were also questions about the Russian championship, where it seemed that Shcherbakov was undeservedly evaluated in comparison with Elizaveta Tuktamysheva .
Nevertheless, Anna got her chance for a European medal, and, most likely, will go with Valieva and Trusova to Beijing 2022. The European Championship must prove that Shcherbakova is an irreplaceable fighter in the Olympic team.
3. Will Valieva update her records?
15-year-old student Eteri Tutberidze holds all the world records among women in figure skating. This season, Valieva updated her achievements at every competition she took part in. Kamila’s last record scores are dated to the Grand Prix in Sochi: for the short program, the skater received 87.42 points, improving by almost two points the result of Alena Kostornaya in 2019, 185.92 points for the arbitrary Valieva, and a total of 272.71 points … True, a month later, the skater improved all these points at the Russian Championship, but they did not go into the ISU standings.
Now Valieva has every chance to approach the results of the national championship at the European Championship. Moreover, the skater’s content has not changed in comparison with the Czech Republic: in Tallinn, Kamila announced a triple axel in the short program, in an arbitrary: a quadruple salchow, a trixel, a quadruple toe loop-triple toe loop and a quadruple toe loop-triple axel through an oiler.
Her compatriots have simpler content. So Shcherbakova will again manage with one quadruple flip in an arbitrary – in St. Petersburg, he lost it. And Trusova did not risk it at all and declared only a quadruple lutz in the free program.
4. Will Mozalev take the Olympic ticket from Semenenko?
The Russian Championship in St. Petersburg gave the country a new champion in men’s singles skating – it was Mark Kondratyuk , who rightfully earned a ticket to Beijing 2022 and the European Championship on the eve of the Olympics. Like Mikhail Kolyada, Kondratyuk will go to the Games as part of the Russian national team, since the first two places in the Chechen Republic automatically give this right. But who will take the third quota in the Olympic team remains an intrigue.
Andrei Mozalev won the bronze of the national championship , but Evgeny Semenenko was sent to Tallinn, which according to the FFKKR was more stable this season. Mozalev was the first reservist, and he still got his ticket to the European Championship – after Kolyada withdrew due to a foot injury. Andrey in Tallinn will have an excellent opportunity to prove to the Federation that he is worthy of representing Russia at the Beijing Olympics just as well as Semenenko.
5. In what form is Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov?
Victoria and Nikita are the reigning European champions. Two years ago, in Graz, the skaters unexpectedly beat, as it seemed at the time, the unattainable Papadakis / Sizeron. Then Sinitsina and Katsalapov, in the absence of the French, became world champions, but in the Olympic season they again faced a long-standing problem: their partner was worried about a back injury, because of which the couple had to withdraw from the Russian championship after a rhythm dance.
The figure skaters of Alexander Zhulin will still come to Tallinn , although the same Papadakis and Sizeron decided not to risk it on the eve of the Games.
“We decided to do our best to protect ourselves from infection. Flying, competing without a bubble is too big a risk. This is not an easy decision, because the European Championship is a major tournament, a high title, but we believe that it would be more prudent to skip these competitions, ” Papadakis explained her refusal to come to Tallinn.
It will not be easy for Sinitsina and Katsalapov to repeat the success of two years ago, because their competitors, as it seems to many, are underestimated Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin . And also Diana Davis and Gleb Smolkin , who are showing amazing progress this season.
6. Will Tutberidze’s daughter and Smolkin’s son take the European Championship medal?
There are many questions to the dancing duet of Diana Davis and Gleb Smolkin : a year ago they were losing to their peers from Russia at all tournaments, and right now they are applying for a trip to Beijing 2022. Immediately after the transition to adult skating, Davis and Smolkin declared themselves as competitive dancers. At the Russian Championship, after the withdrawal of Sinitsina and Katsalapov, as well as Tiffany Zagorski and Jonathan Gureiro , who had not fully recovered from their illness , Diana and Gleb became silver medalists.
In Tallinn, the daughter of Eteri Tutberidze and the son of actor Boris Smolkin will have to prove that all this is not without reason, and they are able to get high scores not only in domestic Russian tournaments and out-of-the-box challengers.
7. Will Tarasova / Morozov become three-time European champions?
The most titled sports duo in Russia is not going to Tallinn as the main favorite of the tournament. For a year now, the younger generation, represented by Anastasia Mishina / Alexander Gallyamov and Alexandra Boykova / Dmitry Kozlovsky, has been on the heels of Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov .
There is no doubt that the Russians will take the entire pedestal of the European Championship, and the winners are likely to be Mishina and Gallyamov, who do not know of defeats this season. But Tarasova and Morozov, in terms of content, if it is executed correctly, can compete for gold. And this will be especially important for them – this season the most popular couple cannot gain confidence and start showing their best skating.
8. Who will get infected?
Almost all the leading European teams did not send their leaders to Tallinn. The main reason is the same as that of Papadakis and Sizeron: in the conditions of the rapid spread of a new strain of coronavirus, no one wants to risk it. Any positive test (and their participants in the European Championship will take it daily) – and the athlete is automatically removed from the tournament and sent to quarantine.
And this is both nerves and a violation of the preparation schedule for the Games – just a few weeks before the Olympics! The risk of such a turn is incredibly high: the organizers did not introduce the “bubble” regime, the athletes will move freely around the city, and strangers will be accommodated in the hotels where they live. What this can lead to, we know from the example of the youth world hockey championship, which had to be interrupted,