Europeans Dance Preview

This is Pechalat and Bourzat’s event to lose.  They have the best results of any team here, including a medal at the Grand Prix Final.  Their real goal is to win a world medal and winning their second European title would set them up nicely.  While their Mummy and Pharaoh Free Dance has never really come together for me, I see the potential if they really commit to the story telling of the dance and keep it error free.  With their training mates Weaver and Poje closing in on Virtue and Moir at Canadian Nationals and the Shibutanis looking to defend their World medal, Pechalat and Bourzat will need to put up solid marks here to show they are the favorites for the last spot on the World podium.

Trying to unseat them will be Bobrova and Soloviev.  They set a personal best total score and solidly defeated the Shibutanis at Cup of China, but fell to third place at home and last place in the Final.  Their Free Dance looked extremely messy at Cup of China but has been improving throughout the season.  The program itself masks a lot of their technical programs but the heavy music and theme in addition to the distracting costumes can make their skating seem clunkier in comparison to some of the other programs.

Cappellini and Lanotte have been competing fully healthy this season and just missed the Grand Prix Final after taking home two bronze medals.  They’ve shown a lot of improvement and I especially enjoy the interesting positions they create in their Free Dance to La Strada.

Ilinykh and Katsalapov expressed their disappointment at their 7th place finish at Worlds last season.  They changed coaches and vowed to make it to the podium this year.  However, they finished 3rd at their first Grand Prix event and finished off the podium at Trophee Eric Bompard.  Their free skate doesn’t showcase their lines and technical ability to it’s greatest advantage and instead has them stand around posing on the ice for a significant portion of the program.  Unless they’ve made some serious choreographic changes to their programs, they could find themselves off the podium here and with a distant shot at a World medal.

Also in the medal hunt are Coomes and Buckland, who finished 4th at Cup of China and have the home crowd behind them.  Zhiganshina and Gazsi placed 4th at both their Grand Prix events but haven’t been able to sell their Romeo + Juliet themed free dance.  Zahorski and Miart made a splash at Junior Worlds last season, finishing 4th, but an injury took them out of the Grand Prix season.  They made their senior debut earlier this month and set an impressive score that keeps them firmly in the mix at the senior level.

My podium predictions:
Gold: Pechalat/Bourzat
Silver: Cappellini/Lanotte
Bronze: Bobrova/Soloviev

Bios of the competitors:
Silna/Kurakin, AUT: She is 23 and he is 24.

Zlobina/Sitnikov, AZE: She is 22 and he is 25.

Valadzenkava/Vakunov, BLR: They finished 17th in the preliminary round at Worlds and 13th in the preliminary round at Europeans.  She is 19 and he is 20.

Chistiakova/Lichev, BUL: She is 20 and he is 21.

Kubova/Kiselev, CZE (Direct Entry): Their personal best is 111.39.  She is 18 and he is 22.

Mysliveckova/Brown, CZE: She is 22 and he is 21.

Shtork/Rand, EST: They finished 21st at Europeans and 10th at Junior Worlds.  They placed 7th at JGP Romania and won silver at JGP Estonia.  Their personal best is 126.51.  She is 18 and he is 19.

Lindholm/Kanervo, FIN: They finished 14th in the preliminary round at Europeans.  She is 22 and he is 24. 

Carron/Jones, FRA (Direct Entry): They placed 12th at Worlds and 9th at Europeans.  They won bronze at Cup of China and placed 6th at Rostelecom Cup.  Their personal best is 140.86.  She is 25 and he is 23.

Pechalat/Bourzat, FRA (Direct Entry): They placed 4th at Worlds and are the reigning European Champions.  They won silver at Skate America and Trophee Eric Bompard to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they won bronze.  Their personal best is 169.69.  She is 28 and he is 31.

Zahorski/Miart, FRA: They placed 4th at Junior Worlds.  Their personal best is 128.16.  She is 17 and he is 19.

Kolbe/Caruso, GER: She is 21 and he is 24.

Zhiganshina/Gazsi, GER (Direct Entry): They finished 11th at Worlds and 7th at Europeans.  They placed 4th at Skate America and NHK Trophy.  Their personal best is 140.95.  She is 24 and he is 27.

Coomes/Buckland, GBR (Direct Entry): They finished 16th at Worlds and 14th at Europeans.  They placed 4th at Cup of China.  Their personal best is 130.39.  She is 22 and he is 22. 

Walden/Edwards, GBR: They finished 20th at Worlds.  Their personal best is 116.52.  She is 28 and he is 24. 

Nagy/Fejes, HUN (Direct Entry): They finished 13th in the preliminary round at Worlds and 11th in the preliminary round at Europeans.  She is 25 and he is 23. 

Turoczi/Major, HUN: They finished 21st at Worlds.  Their personal best is 104.03.  She is 21 and he is 21.

Bugrov/Rogov, ISR: They finished 15th in the preliminary round at Junior Worlds.  They placed 15th at JGP Latvia and 9th at JGP Romania.  Their personal best is 98.87.  She is 15 and he is 20.

Cappellini/Lanotte, ITA (Direct Entry): They finished 8th at Worlds.  They won bronze at Skate Canada and Trophee Eric Bompard.  Their personal best is 154.87.  She is 24 and he is 26. 

Guignard/Fabbri, ITA: They placed 19th at Worlds.  Their personal best is 120.02.  She is 22 and he is 23. 

Pecherkina/Jakushin, LAT: They finished 17th in the preliminary round at Junior Worlds.  They placed 8th at JGP Latvia and 7th at JGP Poland.  Their personal best is 113.24.  She is 18 and he is 18.

Tobias/Stagniunas, LTU (Direct Entry): They finished 14th at Worlds and 12th at Europeans.  They won bronze at Skate America and placed 5th at Rostelecom Cup.  Their personal best is 132.58.  She is 20 and he is 26.

Zvorigina/Bernadowski, POL: She is 21 and he is 22.

Bobrova/Soloviev: RUS: They placed 6th at Worlds and are the reigning European Silver Medalists.  They won gold at Cup of China and bronze at Rostelecom Cup to qualify for the Grand Prix Final where they finished 6th.  They are the 2007 World Junior Champions.  Their personal best is 163.52.  She is 21 and he is 22.

Ilinykh/Katsalapov, RUS: They finished 7th at Worlds and 4th at Europeans.  They won bronze at NHK Trophy and finished 4th at Trophee Eric Bompard.  They are the 2010 World Junior Champions.  Their personal best is 154.50.  She is 17 and he is 20.

Riazanova/Tkachenko, RUS (Direct Entry): They finished 6th at Europeans.  They placed 5th at Skate Canada and 4th at Rostelecom Cup.  Their personal best is 146.79.  She is 20 and he is 25.

Hurtado/Diaz, ESP: They finished 23rd at Worlds, 15th at Europeans and 9th at Junior Worlds.  They placed 8th at Trophee Eric Bompard.  Their personal best is 120.41.  She is 19 and he is 21.

Elsener/Roost, SUI: They finished 25th at Worlds, 19th at Europeans and 14th at Junior Worlds.  Their personal best is 111.86.  She is 19 and he is 22.

Agafonova/Ucar, TUR: She is 21 and he is 27.

Frolenkova/Kasalo, UKR (Direct Entry): They finished 13th at Europeans.  Their personal best is 120.86.  She is 22 and he is 22.

Heekin-Canedy/Dun, UKR: She is 20 and he is 22.