Minsk / Belarus

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France’s Vanessa James/Morgan Cipres grabbed a lead of almost three points over defending European Champions Evgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov of Russia as the ISU European Figure Skating Championships continued Wednesday with the Pairs Short Program in Minsk (BLR). Italians Nicole Della Monica/Matteo Guarise are sitting in third heading into the Free Skating on Thursday.

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Vanessa James / Morgan Cipres (FRA) at the ISU European Figure Skating Championships 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)

Skating to “Uninvited” by Alanis Morisette, James/Cipres produced a triple twist, side by side triple toeloop and throw triple flip as well as a level-four lift. However, the side by side spin, the death spiral and the footwork were rated a level three. The ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final Champions picked up a personal best score of 76.55 points. “We’ve had a few errors in our short program in the middle of the season so we had to go back and rethink what was missing and what to make better. We needed speed going from the twist to the toeloop and from the flip, and today was the first time we found it. We weren’t sure how it was going to be seeing as we hadn’t performed it in competition but we are very proud and happy to have made these changes,“ James told the post-event press conference.

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Evgenia Tarasova / Vladimir Morozov (RUS) at the ISU European Figure Skating Championships 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)

Tarasova/Morozov opened their routine to “Piano Concerto No. 2” by Sergei Rachmaninov with a big triple twist, but then Tarasova landed forward on the triple toe that was downgraded. The World silver medalists recovered to land a throw triple loop, level-four spin, lift and step sequence to score 73.90 points. ”My mistake (on the triple toeloop) hasn’t anything to do with our preparation – our training was good and we wanted to skate well and clean but I made this mistake. It was a bad mistake and after that we couldn’t really show the full set of emotions that we would have felt with a clean skate,” Tarasova commented. “Returning to last year’s short program was a shared choice and the reason for it was we felt the program was more powerful to skate – we really liked it more compared to the one from the start of this season, so that’s why we made the choice,” she added.

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Nicole Della Monica / Matteo Guarise (ITA) at the ISU European Figure Skating Championships 2019©International Skating Union (ISU)

Della Monica/Guarise hit a side by side triple Salchow, triple twist and throw triple loop in their performance to “Never Tear Us Apart”. The ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Finalists earned 73.70 points, which is a new personal best. “We are very happy about our performance today. We were ready - we are ready for this competition, and we did what we were ready to from our practice at home - nothing special and nothing more. Tomorrow will be the same, we feel very confident because we have been practising a lot,“ Della Monica said.

Aleksandra Boikova/Dmitri Kozlovskii (RUS) placed fourth with strong performance to “Dark Eyes” and with a personal best of 72.58 points. 2018 World Junior Champions Daria Pavliuchenko/Denis Khodykin (RUS) are sitting in fifth after she touched down with both hands on the throw triple flip (65.89 points). Minerva Fabienne Hase/Nolan Seegert (GER) came sixth on 60.08 points.

The competition continues Thursday with the Men’s Short Program and Pairs Free Skating. For more information, full entry lists and results please see: www.isu.org and the official event website. Follow the discussion on social media using #EuroFigure and #FigureSkating.