The European Figure Skating Championship was held for the first time without Russian athletes, who this season have been suspended from international competitions.
Last year's tournament was very successful for domestic figure skaters: they won nine medals.
In women, Kamila Valieva won then, Anna Shcherbakova took second place, and Alexandra Trusova became third.
In men's skating, Mark Kondratyuk won gold, Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov won in dancing, and Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin took silver.
In addition, sports couples took the entire podium: gold went to Anastasia Mishina and Alexander Gallyamov, silver went to Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, and bronze went to Alexandra Boikova and Dmitry Kozlovsky.
Without domestic athletes, the level of the tournament has dropped significantly, both in terms of points scored and content.
The situation in pair skating looked especially deplorable, where for the first time in 14 years the European champions scored less than 200 points in the sum of two programs.
The assets of the Italians Sarah Conti and Niccolo Maci, who received gold medals, only 195.13 points, while the closest pursuers lost more than eight points to them.
The last time a similar level of results was seen at the Euro was in 2009, when Alyona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy became the winners with 199.07 points.
A year later, Tamara Moskvina's students Yuko Kawaguchi and Alexander Smirnov won gold with 213.15 points, and by 2022 Mishina and Gallyamov from the same coaching group raised the bar to 239.82 points.
While the newly-champions of Russia Boikova and Kozlovsky are learning quadruple throws and twists, as well as performing a parallel triple loop, and Mishina and Gallyamov are doing a triple lutz, the winners of Euro 2023 presented rather meager content with a minimum of complex elements.
So, none of them performed a cascade of two triple jumps, or at least “three - two - two”.
“Without Russian couples, the fight was on a different level.
Italian and German couples felt that they could win medals and even fight for first place, there was some kind of relief in the programs - we saw single axels, double jumps.
This, of course, is not the figure skating that we would like to see in the last warm-up of the European Championship, ”said Alexander Enbert, silver medalist of the 2018 Olympics in the team tournament, in a conversation with TASS.
The men weren't too impressed either.
The winner with a score of 267.77 points was France's Adam Xiao Him Fa, who screwed up quite a bit in his free skate to be truly champion skating.
He fell off a quad toe loop and also missed two combinations, eventually losing to Matteo Rizzo on the second day of the competition.
And only a touch in the short box office, which was not very successful for the Italian, allowed Xiao Him Fa to get gold.
The program of the newly-made European champion was quite interesting and unusual - the story flowed from short to free - but the performance could not be compared with the brilliant performance of Mark Kondratyuk last year.
The Russian then demonstrated in a free program two axels and three quadruples, one of which was in a cascade, and scored 286.56 points.
In women's single skating, for the first time in ten years, a figure skater representing not Russia became the European champion.
The last time Carolina Costner did this was in 2013.
However, even with this, the tournament was marked by the triumph of the national school of figure skating, no matter how much European sports officials opposed it.
The gold medal was won by a native of Togliatti Anastasia Gubanova, now representing Georgia.
Pupil Evgenia Rukavitsyna almost flawlessly performed both programs and scored 199.91 points in the sum of two rentals.
At the same time, the content of the winner, if we compare the baseline rating, is at a level no higher than the eighth place of the December Russian Championship: the first seven had elements of ultra-c declared and performed - quadruple jumps and triple axels.
At the Euro, the audience did not see anything like this in the performance of the girls.
However, Gubanova demonstrated complex cascades of triple jumps - “lutz + toe loop” and “flip + toe loop”, and a clean performance allowed her to get good bonuses from the judges.
The main rival of the ex-Russian Luna Hendrix, who was considered the main favorite of the competition, broke the cascade in the short program, fell twice in the free program and took second place.
“Congratulations to Nastya Gubanova, whom we know firsthand, because she is a Russian athlete who trains in St. Petersburg.
At one time she trained in Moscow, had the pleasure of seeing her every day.
We can say that this is a triumph of the Russian school, even in the absence of the Russians,” commented on the victory of the representative of Georgia, Tatyana Tarasova.
At the same time, she stated that Anastasia's skating is significantly behind the level that Russian athletes demonstrate.
The same opinion was expressed by Alexander Zhulin, who called what is happening in Espoo "a feast during the plague."
“Gubanova would never have won anything if our girls had ridden at the European Championships,” RIA Novosti quotes the coach.
The athlete herself thanked her team from the northern capital of Russia.
“The group in St. Petersburg is my second family.
The guys supported me a lot.
And we had a lot of sincere conversations with Dmitry Aliyev, he is the European champion after all, and he shared his experience with me, which I used.
I want to thank him for his support.
And to his entire group, too, ”Sports.ru quotes the figure skater.
In ice dancing, the tournament ended quite predictably.
Of course, in the post-Olympic season, when long-term leaders have either ended their careers or taken a break from performances, it is very interesting to watch how duets fight for a place in the elite and advancement in the notorious “queue”.
The medals of the European championship in this sense is a rather serious application, but this time the struggle for the podium did not bring any surprises.
According to the results of the rhythm dance, the most experienced Italians Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri took the lead, who last year took third place in the continental tournament after two Russian couples.
They also excelled on the second day of the competition, despite the far from ideal rental.
The skaters made a breakdown on twizzles, performed a block on one leg and a step sequence not in the best way, but, nevertheless, scored 210.44 points.
Second-placed Britons Lila Fir and Lewis Gibson were also not without errors, which allowed the judges to maintain the status quo and leave them with only silver (207.89).
Third place went to the hosts of the tournament, the Finnish duet Yuliya Turkkila and Matthias Versluis (198.21).
As Betina Popova stated on the broadcast, this distribution of places was the most expected, taking into account past results and the venue of the championship.
At the same time, she noted that Russian duets, if they were allowed, could count on a podium, but, most likely, they would only fight for third place.
This is also evidenced by the results of the December championship of Russia, where Elizaveta Khudaiberdieva and Yegor Bazin won with a score of 203.46 points.
In the meantime, domestic duets have to prepare for domestic starts and hope for a speedy return to the international arena so as not to be too far behind in the dance “queue”.