Thursday, January 20, 2011

2011 European Figure Skating Championships: Fantasy Choices and Predictions

Its that time of year again, when three major competitions overlap to create a fabulous week of skating, and maybe a mild case of carpal tunnel for myself and other bloggers. Next week/weekend I will be watching US Nationals while also posting live scores from Canadian Nationals and the European Figure Skating Championships. Europeans used to be like a mini-worlds when Soviets dominated the sport before Asia began to gain such prominence. European nations are finally making a comeback, especially Russia, as they prepare to present a crop of champions for their home Olympics in 2014 in Sochi. Unfortunately several of the competitors that Russia is banking on for Sochi are not yet age-eligible to compete internationally as seniors, but the competition should still be strong this year. In theory, Carolina Kostner should run away with the Ladies event based on those sky-high program components scores that she gets. However, she is injured and a number of other ladies could challenge her, including Kiira Korpi who won gold at Trophee Eric Bompard or Ksenia Makarova who won silver at Skate Canada though she placed off the podium at Russian Nationals. The Men's even will be tricky because it is filled with skaters who can put up huge numbers, but are very inconsistent. Brian Joubert is a former European and World champion, but he has struggled this season and was not a major player in the Grand Prix series this year. He fought back from a disappointing short to win French Nationals and I think he will do the same at Europeans this season. Tomas Verner and Florent Amodio, both Grand Prix Final qualifiers, each have a shot to claim the European title if they skate clean. I look for Joubert, Verner, and Amodio to make up the podium, though not necessarily in that order. Young Artur Gachinski of Russia aims to become the next Evgeni Plushenko, sharing the same coach and a similar hairstyle, so this would be a great competition for him to make a splash. The battle in pairs will be between Savchenko/Szolkowy of Germany and Kavguti/Smirnov of Russia, though I give the edge to the Germans because they have competed in more high profile competitions this season and are coming off of a win at the Grand Prix Final. Bazarova & Larionov of Russia are in line to also make the podium if they can avoid the mistakes they made at the Grand Prix Final. Pechalat & Bourzat of France are almost a lock for the gold in Ice Dance as they have only been beaten once this season, and that was by Davis & White at the Grand Prix Final. Faiella & Scali of Italy will attempt to challenge them, though I look for them to fall short based on a sub-par Grand Prix season filled with falls and withdrawals. Bobrova & Soloviev of Russia had an excellent Grand Prix season and I could see them taking the silver in Ice Dance. Kerr & Kerr of Great Britain will also be right in there to challenge for a podium spot, as will Hoffman & Zavozin of Hungary.

The event schedule in US Eastern Standard Time can be found here

Normally my friend and fellow Fantasy Skating competitor SkateGate and I overlap on most of our Fantasy choices, but for Europeans we only picked 5/12 of the same choices and here they are....
                                         BackStageBarbie                                SkateGate
Ladies A                          Carolina Kostner                                   Carolina Kostner
Ladies B                          Viktoria Helgesson                                Valentina Marchei
Ladies C                          Svetlana Issakova                                  Ira Vannut

Men A                             Brian Joubert                                         Tomas Verner
Men B                             Artur Gachinski                                     Artur Gachinski
Men C                             Jorik Hendrickx                                     Kim Lucine

Pairs A                            Savchenko/Szolkowy                            Savchenko/Szolkowy
Pairs B                            Gerboldt/Enbert                                    Gerboldt/Enbert
Pairs C                            Kadlekova/Bidar                                   Gierok/Just

Dance A                          Pechalat/Bourzat                                  Pechalat/Bourzat
Dance B                          Riazanova/Tkachenko                           Riazanova/Tkachenko
Dance C                          Coomes/Buckland                                Testa/Mior

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