WSSA European Freestyle Skating
For the last day of the European Championships, was scheduled the battle women and men's finals. In the men's category, Romain Lebois (Fra), the current world number one and fresh winner of the classic freestyle contest, is the great favorite while the women's competition is more open, with 4 favorites, D.Kuznetsova (Rus, #1), K.Hartmanis (Pol, #2), M.Boiko (Ukr, #3), O.Semenikhina (Rus, #9) and few outsiders, like Z.Granjon (Fra, #4) or A.Prucnal (Pol, #5).
After a qualification round for the lowest ranked skaters, the women competition could open for the favorites, who all passed the 1st round quite easily, except E.Czapla (Pol, #9), beaten by
K.Komarchuk (Ukr, #11) in her group.
Few young outsiders reached the quarter finals, like K.Dubinchik (Rus), A.Zenkova (Rus), or H.Navratilova (Cze), who all came from the qualification round and will be interesting to follow in the future competitions. They have all been stopped by the favorites in this round, and the semi-finals are the ones expected, with the 7 best europeans in the world ranking + the 9th european.
In the first semi final, it is a good fight between 3 girls, D.Kuznetsova, O.Semenikhina, and Z.Granjon, D.Kuznetsova did good runs, very clean and stable, and qualified for the final at the 1st
O.Semenikhina, did a good 1st run, and Z.Granjon did a great 2nd run, but the french didn't do so well in the 3rd run, letting the russian take the second ticket for the final in this group.
In the second semi-final, opposing 2 Ukrainians to 2 Polish girls, we could expect the polishs to be much stronger at home than usual, but on the opposite, it seems that K.Hartmanis and A.Prucnal, were both a little paralyzed by the stakes, and were not able to land or perform their tricks properly. M.Boiko, very well prepared, won the group and took the first ticket to the final, and K.Komarchuk, did her best this time, finishing her tricks very well, to access for the first time of her career in an european final, her best result so far, was a 7th place in Paris in 2010.
K.Komarchuk could repeat her good performance in the final, but her 3 opponents were too strong ; she finished the competition at the 4th place, still a very good result for her. The 3 other girls were clearly fighting for the title, the first to make mistakes, would be out, and this first one was O.Semenikhina, who was also skating in her first european final, after reaching the semi final in Berlin in 2012. She didn't perform all her tricks on the same difficulty level as the 2 others, like her Tofus (Toe footguns) on the 120 while the others did it on 80, or butterfly on the 80 instead of the 50 (M.Boiko) and unbalanced shift to fake transition comparing with M.Boiko, etc… Adding some little loss of balance, and even with a nice toe christie, the judges, placed O.Semenikhina on the 3rd step of the podium, finishing her campaign nicely - without a gold medal though - but with 2 medals around her neck ; it will be difficult in the future to put her out of the podium if she continues to improve like she did in the past 12 months !
To award the gold medal, the judges had to compare the performance of the 2 best skaters of this competition, and the World N.#1, got the advantage clearly over the 2010 World Champion after her very nice Toe Christie in the second run, very well balanced, and also with her execution speed, which is a little faster than the ukrainian's one. At the end of the final, Daria Kuznetsova, could proudly set a new record in this competition, getting her 4th European title, and reaching the performance of C.Seyres, with 2 European titles in Battle in a row. Her next objective will be to win the world championships, last title missing in her young but already very rich career.
The men competition started on saturday, with 16 groups for the 1st round. We saw some surprises in this first round : in the group 9, D.Shevarutin (Rus, #64) took the first place in front of the World n.#2, A.Claris (Fra) ; in the group 10, I.Misevra (Rus, #24) who was wounded before the competition, couldn't fight against D.Islamov (Rus, #32) and N.Gandza (Lat, #243) who qualified for the second round.
The second round was very tight already in some groups : in the second group, won by L.Guslandi (Ita, #15), C.Nelson (Esp, #14) finalist in Paris, was eliminated by A.Timchenko (Rus, #26).
In the fourth group, won quite easily by J.Larrucea (Esp, #8), the surprise came from the italian R.Rosato (#53) who did a very good performance to beat A.Tsokolov (Rus, #35) ; in the 6th group, won this time by A.Claris, who raised up his level at the right time, D.Jaworski (Pol, #11) is eliminated by a very good A.Shitov (Rus, #40) who seems to be back at the highest level this year.
V.Meleshkevich (Rus, #13) did many mistakes in the group 7, and is eliminated by T.Thierry (Fra, #16) and a good surprise with S.Golotovskiy (Ukr, #192).
In the quarter finals, all the groups are like finals already and the skaters had to give their best to qualify for the semi-finals. In the first group, R.Lebois (Fra, #1) was very clean and
impressive, and qualified first, in front of L.Guslandi, whose level is raising at each competition, and who is now with no doubt the new leader of the italian freestyle team.
The second groups was lethal for the 2 favorites, I.Cheremetieff (Fra, #9) and J.Larrucea, eliminated by A.Timchenko, and A.Castro (Esp, #29) former top 10 skater who is back this year on the World Series with a very high level, and very original tricks, like for example, an impressive backward toe external chicken leg.
In the semi-finals, R.Lebois, very stable continues his way, and A.Shitov, also very confident, is the winner of the russian fight, and reaches an european final for the first time in his career,
after 3 semi-finals, in 2009, 2010, and 2011.
The two favorites of the second semi-final, the world n.#2 M.Sulinowski (Pol) and the world n.#3, A.Claris qualify as well, to reach their second consecutive final after Berlin last year.
The frenchs Romain Lebois and Alexandre Claris, reach the european final for the 3rd consecutive year, after London 2011 and Berlin 2012.
Warsaw 2013 is the revenge of last year, between the 3 favorites and world N.#1, 2 and 3. The clear outsider of this final, is A.Shitov, only ranked 40th in the world, but with the right weapons to hope a place on the podium. The final starts on very high basis, and the russian, was very close to catch the level of the 3 others but his links between his tricks and his execution, were not so good as them, and he finished at a disappointing 4th place, as he was certainly dreaming to get a medal this year. Romain Lebois, after bad final last year, where he lost his concentration, didn't want to repeat the same mistakes, and let Alexandre Claris get the title again this year. From the beginning of the competition, he was extremely precise, and this time, even with the highest pressure, he kept his stability and all his tricks came out perfectly, with an impressive toe christie to wheeling combo in the first run, perfect back Tofu in the third run, and a strong back toe christie, to front toe christie, to tofu as a last trick ! This time, R.Lebois, won the european title in battle, which was missing in his career, and got a third european title, establishing a new record in freestyle men. Alexandre Claris, couldn't keep his title for a second consecutive year, but finished on the second step of the podium, and was very happy about this result, he will need more training, especially in the sitting tricks, to be able to beat Romain in the next finals… On the third step of the podium, Michal Sulinowski, the favorite of the public, did a big mistake in the 3rd run (fall during his back Tofu) and lost too much time, despite of his high speed ; but he was still satisfied about this good result, as it is his first podium in battle in an european championship.
Battle Top 5 :
1. RUS - Daria Kuznetsova
2. UKR - Maryna Boiko
3. RUS - Olga Semenikhina
4. UKR - Ksenija Komarchuk
5. POL - Angelika Prucnal
1. FRA - Romain Lebois
2. FRA - Alexandre Claris
3. POL - Michal Sulinowski
4. RUS - Andrei Shitov
5. ESP - Antonio Castro Zamora
The full results are available here.