Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri (ITA) win gold in the Ice Dance © ISU
Charlene Guignard/Marco Fabbri claimed gold to end a nine-year gold medal drought for Italian Ice Dance, at the ISU European Figure Skating Championships in Espoo (FIN) Saturday, in an exhilarating and high-level competition.
Guignard/Fabbri (ITA) dance to their first European title
Thirteen years after their debut at the ISU European Figure Skating Championships, Italy’s Charlene Guignard/Marco Fabbri stepped on to the top of the podium, giving Italy its first European Ice Dance title since 2014. Lilah Fear/Lewis Gibson made Great Britain proud by earning the first European Championship medal since 2014 and, to the delight of the home crowd, Juulia Turkkila/Matthias Versluis of Finland earned the bronze – the first Finnish Ice Dance medal since Susanna Rahkamo/Petri Kokko won in 1995.
Overnight leaders Guignard/Fabbri skated last after Fear/Gibson had already heated up the arena. The pressure was on, and the Italians knew they had no room for error. Their intense and spooky Free Dance to “My Love Will Never Die” and “Mephisto’s Lullaby” featured difficult lifts and intricate footwork that seamlessly connected with each other to create a memorable story on the ice.
The two-time European bronze medalists collected a level four for the spin, the lifts and his twizzles to score 124.91 points. Overall they racked up 210.44 points to strike gold.
“It has been a long journey to get to this point and we couldn’t be happier,” Fabbri said. “It is difficult to express our feelings. It's a work of a lifetime and a real dream come true.”
He admitted that they felt under a lot of pressure. “We tried to avoid this thought, we tried to think about something else, many different things, but it's hard to not think about the gold medal, so it's been a tough approach, but we somehow managed to deal with it in a good way.”
Now the pair, who are also a couple off the ice, are looking forward to some celebrations.
“We will celebrate with our families, and probably there’s going to be a little party with the federation, but the big reward is our small holiday to Lapland next week,” Fabbri revealed.
Fear/Gibson put on a dynamic dance to “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga that got the crowd going from the first second of their performance. The ISU Grand Prix Finalists impressed with their spectacular lifts and fast-paced steps, picking up a level four for three elements. The British Champions netted 123.77 points for a total of 207.89.
Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson of Great Britain take silver in the Ice Dance © ISU
“It hasn't quite sunk in yet. That is very humbling. It was intense in the best way,” Fear said. “Because obviously it's such an amazing opportunity here. And we know that we worked so hard the past few weeks, and we really wanted to put out a performance that reflected that, and we did.
“There was a little mistake in the steps, but I'm so proud of our recovery, our ability to refocus and enjoy the entire program,” she added.
Turkkila/Versluis had chosen yet another style with the soft classical Impromptus and Piano Sonata by Franz Schubert. The ISU Grand Prix Espoo medalists produced three level four elements to achieve a new personal best score of 120.65 points, which added up to 198.21 points overall.
Juulia Turkkila and Matthias Versluis of Finland take bronze in the Ice Dance © ISU
“It feels absolutely amazing, I can’t comprehend this. It’s like being still in some kind of a dream,” said Versluis. “We didn’t take any pressure from being in third place after the rhythm dance, but focused on today.
“It means a lot. We had to skip the last three Europeans, and now we finally got this far. That was our first goal, to actually get to compete here. And the fact that we can finish it like this, it’s amazing,” he concluded.
Allison Reed/Saulius Ambruvelicius (LTU) entertained the crowd with their dance to techno music to finish fourth at 195.67 points. ISU Grand Prix de France bronze medalists Evgeniia Lopareva/Geoffrey Brissaud (FRA) moved up one spot to fifth with their Edith Piaf medley (191.85 points). Natalie Taschlerova/Filip Taschler (CZE) also skated very well, but slipped to sixth at 188.34 points.
Following the IOC recommendation and in order to protect the integrity of ice skating competitions and for the safety of all the participants of international ice skating competitions, the ISU Council based on Article 17.1.q)i) of the ISU Constitution, agreed that with immediate effect and until further notice, no Skaters belonging to the ISU Members in Russia (Russian Skating Union and the Figure Skating Federation of Russia) and Belarus (Skating Union of Belarus) shall be invited or allowed to participate in International ice skating competitions including ISU Championships and other ISU Events. The same applies to Officials listed in the respective ISU Communications and/or Regulations under Russia and Belarus (see ISU Communication 2469).
Schedule of the event
The schedule of the European Figure Skating Championships is as follows:
Wednesday, January 25: Pairs & Men’s Short Programs
Thursday, January 26: Women’s Short Program, Pairs Free Skating
Friday, January 27: Rhythm Dance & Men’s Free Skating
Saturday, January 28: Women’s Free Skating & Free Dance
Sunday, January 29: Exhibition Gala
For full entries and results, please see the ISU event page and the official website. Follow the discussion on social media using #EuroFigure and #FigureSkating.
Where to watch the ISU European Figure Skating Championships 2023:
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