No competition was more anticipated at the 2020 European Championships than the ladies free skate. While it was a given that the trio of Russian teens would dominate the event — but which one would it be was the big question. There was little doubt that it would be yet another Russian sweep of a podium in Graz.
In the end, the Russian trio lived up to their billing, but it was Alena Kostornaia, the 2019 Grand Prix Final champion, who stole the show and skated off with the title.
In first after the short, Kostornaia opened her long program to “Twilight” and “Supermassive Black Hole” with a solid triple Axel-double toe loop combination and a second triple Axel. She went on to land five further triple jumping passes, but the 16-year-old momentarily hesitated as she went into the final jump in her program — a triple Lutz — and unable to hold the landing, tumbled to the ice.
However, her artistic presentation that complemented every element — including the spins and footwork sequence which earned Level 4s — over-rode that one mistake. Though her program ranked second best of the night with a tally of 155.89 points, she held on for the win with a combined score of 240.81. “I am just really happy that I am here at all, and that I ended up on the podium,” said Kostornaia. “When I came to this competition, I didn‘t think about my chances to win.”
Finishing second was a disappointment for Shcherbakova who excelled in her “Six Gnossiennes” and “Firebird” long program, landing three quads — one in combination — and four triple jumps. However, midway through the routine she fell on a quad Lutz attempt. When the marks came up, she was hit with an under-rotation for the quad flip and also a triple loop. Shcherbakova won the free skate with 159.81 points, and finished the competition with a score of 237.76. But it was only good enough for silver on this night. “I was surprised and upset. The beginning was so good, the first jumps were so good but then the emotions went down because I was not raising the program. So it was not what I was looking for,” said Shcherbakova.
Alexandra Trusova attempted three quads in her “Game of Thrones” routine. She fell on the opening quad Lutz, landed a quad toe-triple toe combination, fell on a second quad Lutz attempt and landed five other triple jumping passes. The 15-year-old earned 150.39 points for the free and 225.34 points in total to take the bronze medal. “I just wanted to perform my program well but it didn‘t happen,” Trusova said. “I didn’t think about placements, but I am really pleased I got on the podium and that we, at our young age are here at Europeans, and we will go to Worlds.”
With this final sweep of the podium, Russia closed out the competition with 10 of the 12 medals awarded at these Championships.
Swiss miss Alexia Paganini finished fourth with 192.88 points, ahead of Emmi Peltonen of Finland (181.79) and Azerbaijan’s Ekaterina Ryabova (181.49).
2020 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS