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Sunday, January 19, 2014

2014 Europeans: Men's Long Programme

Ladies and Gentlemen, your European Champion. Allowed to go to Sochi!
An utterly satisfying podium, a few promising skates, a number of bomby ones, empty programmes, and a repeat European Champion. What more could you possibly hope for?

You really can't be anything but happy for Javier Fernandez (1st) winning his 2nd Euro title. He had some scratchy moments in his free, but managed to pull off his big elements nonetheless.

2nd: Sergei Voronov - for 2nd overall: Came in a great second with lots of rotated and high jumps, but also some GOE I don't really understand or agree with. (The quad combo for example.) This is one of those programmes that looks better in protocol form than in actuality, both TES and PCS wise. That actually holds true for the whole competition, which, apart from a number of exceptions, looks less impressive in reality than on the scoreboard. It's still nice that he was able to get a European medal finally, and there's no doubt he should have.

3rd: Konstantin Menshov - for 3rd overall. These were only his 2nd Euros, and yet he had to reach the 3rd decade of his life, before finally getting a medal at big championships. Plushenko's absence from Budapest has never been less sad than after Menshov's performance.

4th: Michal Brezina - for 4th overall. Skating to Sherlock Holmes, reeling off a number of great and not so great jumps. In the end, with a very good score of 236 points, he came awfully close to a podium placement. but has to content with the 4th place again. The long itself is the usual Brezina long, Peter Liebers' Sherlock Holmes  is a programme I remember more fondly.

The Adventure of the Missing Three Quarters of a point.
5th: Maxim Kovtun - for 5th overall. You can't really fault Maxim Kovtun for his performance. It wasn't that bad, he just did turn two of this quads into doubles and that were 20 points lost right there. I'm not a big fan of the choreography (the 2 triple axels are well placed), even less so of his costume homage to Curry. He skated and interpreted this the best he probably could , but his team is really struggling to package him towards the classical traditional skater image. As the Russian Champion, he placed 3rd of the Russian Men. A result that further complicates the selection process for the sole Men's sport Russia has in Sochi. I couldn't imagine the spot going to anyone else than Plushenko or Kovtun. I still can't. I would prefer Menshov over Voronov in such a case, but that's never going to happen, right?

Sochi? Team event? Singles event? Both?

6th: Brian Joubert - 8th overall.Won the warm-up applause side event easily. The actual skate was very nice too. The music just suits him, I've been saying that since NRW Trophy. It complements his natural skating rhythm, is not too unnerving, makes him look sophisticated, and his interpretation even had feeling. It's a shame that he'll probably get a new freeskate soon. Thank you, Mr. Morozov.

Brian gaining some kind of momentum.
Continuing to explore the options of COP (a good decade after its inception), he also delivered another 3Lz+3T combo and a 3-2-2 combo. When was the last time we witnessed Brian doing a three jump combo? Post the answer in the comments below, the first correct one wins and receives a blog post with a topic of choice for a prize! 

Overall, a competition to build on for Brian. A well executed The Quad! would have easily propelled him to 6th place, an ideal competition would even have made bronze a possibility.

7th: Peter Liebers - for a great 6th overall. A very very focused performance by Liebers, today. While that took away quite a bit from the overall programme, he was, in exchange, able to deliver a very good technical skate with a nice quad and 2 triple Axels. Now it's not really comparable, but this score would have won silver in 2011. In terms of scores, at least, this was a very strong event.

Tomaš Verner, saving the best for Sochi.
8th: Tomáš Verner - for 7th overall: A tripled 1st quad, 3 pops, a step out, a botched spin. And yet, seasoned fans that we are, we know it could have been worse. And while not great, 140 points is still a fairly decent score. A clean free as planned, however, might even have gone into 2nd here. I like the Piazolla long programme very much. There wasn't really an LP after it that managed to show off his elegance and slow, flowing style that well. He could even have gone back to Gypsy Swing for the short and given us the full best of package. Take note: I'm not saying Banjo's is a bad as Dracula or Carmina Burana!

9th: Alexei Bychenko - for 10th overall and two entries for Israel next year.

10th: Jorik Hendrickx - for 9th overall. Had a number of mistakes on his jumps, which are normally his strong suit. I was positively surprised by his performance at the 2013 Worlds, which I felt was matching the music well and suiting him. The Rhapsody in Blue, however, does not work that well for him, it doesn't make him look as good as last year's free, so his weaknesses in interpretation are becoming more obvious again. Still, the 9th place leaves Belgium with two entries for 2015.

20th: Florent Amodio - for 13th overall. A dismal skate for Amodio, who had looked solid in the SP and appeared to have left his early season problems behind. Apart from the mistakes, it was a usual Amodio programme, it even ended with the steps from his Tigerman programmes. He pulled through to the end and delivered the choreosequence with his usual attack and panache., but was visibly upset with his performance.

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