ISU European Figure Skating Championships 2014 Preview

- Budapest, Hungary

The 2014 ISU European Figure Skating Championships will open in Budapest, Hungary, on January 15. The ISU European Figure Skating Championships return to Budapest for the seventh time in history. The event was held in the Hungarian capital as early as in 1895 and 1909 and then again in 1955, 1963, 1984 and in 2004.170 skaters from 33 ISU members have been entered for the Championships. Skaters/couples need to have obtained a minimum total technical score in Short Program and Free Skating in order to compete at the European Championships. Three reigning European Champions are back to defend their title and most of Europe’s top skaters have come to Budapest to face each other one more time before the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi (RUS).

Overview of the top contenders

In the Men’s event reigning European Champion Javier Fernandez (ESP), 22, has to face stiff competition. In Zagreb one year ago, Fernandez became the first Spanish figure skating medalist in history at an ISU Championship and followed up with a bronze medal at the ISU World Championships. He comes with a season best of 230.45 points to Hungary. The challenge should come from the Russian, Czech and French skaters. Russian Champion Maxim Kovtun, 18, was the only European man to qualify for the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final and his seasons best of 240.34 is the highest of any man from Europe. He ranked fifth at the ISU European Championships in 2013. Reigning European silver medalist Florent Amodio (FRA/seasons best 213.39 points) and bronze medalist Michal Brezina (CZE/seasons best 218.32), both 23, as well as veteran Konstantin Menshov (RUS/seasons best 223.03 points) and Sergei Voronov (RUS/221.18 points) are in the medal hunt. 2008 European Champion Tomas Verner (CZE) proved this fall that he is back in business, and three-time European Champion Brian Joubert (FRA) never should be counted out either.

Reigning European Champion and World silver medalist Carolina Kostner (ITA), 26, is aiming for her sixth  European crown. The Italian scored a seasons best of 190.12 points. Kostner faces competition from 15-year-old ISU Grand Prix Final silver medalist Julia Lipnitskaia (RUS/seasons best 198.23 points), who debuts at the ISU European Championships. Defending European silver medalist Adelina Sotnikova (RUS/seasons best 189.81 points), 17, is aiming at the top of the podium in Budapest as well. Other contenders include 2012 World silver medalist Alena Leonova (RUS), two-time European bronze medalist Elene Gedevanishvili (GEO), Valentina Marchei (ITA) and Viktoria Helgesson (SWE).

The Pairs event is highlighted by the ongoing duel between four-time World Champions Aliona Savchenko/ Robin Szolkowy (GER) and reigning World and European Champions Tatiana Volosozhar/ Maxim Trankov (RUS). Volosozhar/Trankov (seasons best 237.71 points) started strongly into the season, but the Germans (seasons best 227.03 points) handed them their first defeat in 20 months at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in December. 2012 European silver medalists Vera Bazarova/Yuri Larionov (RUS/seasons best 201.61 points) as well as reigning European bronze medalists Stefania Berton/Ondrej Hotarek (ITA/seasons best 193.92 points) and Russian Champions Ksenia Stolbova/Fedor Klimov (seasons best 188.10) and are challenging the top two teams. Other contenders to watch include Vanessa James/Morgan Cipres (FRA) and Maylin Wende/Daniel Wende (GER).

In the Ice Dance competition, several talented teams are looking to capture the European title.  The top challengers are reigning European silver medalists Elena Ilinykh/Nikita Katsalapov (RUS/seasons best 171.89 points) and European bronze medalists Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte (ITA/seasons best 168.49 points). Ekaterina Riazanova/Ilia Tkachenko (RUS/seasons best 152.36 points) and German Champions Nelli Zhiganshina/Alexander Gazsi (seasons best 147.27) are aiming at a podium finish here in Budapest as well. Others challengers include 2012 World Junior Champions Victoria Sinitsina/Ruslan Zhiganshin (RUS), who debut at the event (he is Nelli Zhiganshina’s younger brother), Penny Coomes/Nicholas Buckland (GBR) and reigning World Junior silver medalists Gabriella Papadakis/Guilleaume Cizeron (FRA). Defending champions Ekaterina Bobrova/Dmitri Soloviev (RUS) and two-time European Champions Nathalie Pechalat/Fabian Bourzat (FRA) skip the event this year.

Please note that for the seasonal best total scores only the ISU Grand Prix competitions (senior and junior) have been taken into consideration, not other international competitions or National Championships.

Prize money
The ISU awards a global prize money of US$ 350,000 at the ISU European Figure Skating Championships to skaters/couples placed 1st to 12th. The prize money is awarded as follows:

Men and Ladies                                                                     Pairs and Dance (per couple)

1st place US$ 20,000                                                           1st place US$ 30,000
2nd place US$ 13,000                                                          2nd place US$ 19,500
3rd place US$ 8,000                                                             3rd place US$ 12,000
4th place US$ 6,500                                                             4th place US$ 9,750
5th place US$ 5,000                                                             5th place US$ 7,500
6th place US$ 4,000                                                             6th place US$ 6,000
7th place US$ 3,500                                                             7th place US$ 5,250
8th place US$ 3,000                                                             8th place US$ 4,500
9th place US$ 2,500                                                             9th place US$ 3,750
10th place US$ 2,000                                                           10th place US$ 3,000
11th place US$ 1,500                                                           11th place US$ 2,250
12th place US$ 1,000                                                           12th place US$ 1,500

The schedule of the ISU European Figure Skating Championships 2014 is as follows:
Wednesday, January 15: Ladies Short Program, Short Dance
Thursday, January 16: Men Short Program, Free Dance
Friday, January 17: Pairs Short Program, Ladies Free Skating
Saturday, January 18: Men Free Skating
Sunday, January 19: Pairs Free Skating, Exhibition Gala

 For more information, full entry lists and results please see: www.isu.org and http://www.efsc2014.com.

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