Alena Kostornaia wins European Figure Skating Championships in Russian '3A' clean sweep

It's as easy as 1-2-3 for Russia's 'Triple A' stars Kostornaia-Shcherboakova-Trusova who sweep the podium at the 2020 Euros in Graz, Austria

By Ken Browne

Alena Kostornaia is the 2020 European Figure Skating champion after a breathtaking free skate.

Her teammates Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova finished second and third in a perfect night for Russian figure skating.

The '3A' trained by Eteri Tutberidze in Moscow sparkled once more in Graz, Austria.

The three skaters who are 16, 15, and 15 years old proved yet again that they are the avant-garde of women's figure skating.

Gold in the ladies' singles means that Russia have won gold in every single event at the 2020 European championships - including ice dance.

"I am so happy, it is a real surprise because my free program had a few mistakes but I am so happy that I could do it" - Alena Kostornaia

No quads? No problem for Alena Kostornaia

Kostornaia came into the free skate in first place after a sublime short program that almost touched the heights of her world record set last month in Turin.

The 16-year-old Grand Prix Final winner took a seven point lead into Saturday's free skate in Austria, but had to wait patiently as her quad-jumping teammates performed before her.

First up was Shcherbakova who put down a superlative performance landing an opening quad Lutz-triple toe then a quad flip that was near perfection.

But a fall on her third quad jump took the scores down slightly even though she then landed a quad Lutz and a triple flip-Euler-triple Salchow combination that stunned the crowd in the Eisstadion Liebenau.

That now-famous costume change had them on her feet.

237.76 points overall for Shcherbakova.

Trusova down but not out

Kostornaia knew she'd have to bring her absolute best after that, and the other member of the quad-squad Alexandra Trusova was still to come.

But it wasn't Trusova's greatest night ever, two falls out of three quad attempts - including her very first jump - left her out of title contention.

The 15-year-old showed personality to persevere and did enough to land comfortably in second with Kostornaia still to skate.

225.34 for Trusova.

Kostornaia: Queen of teens

Kostornaia was up and though she may not have a quad in her arsenal yet, she does have an elegance, speed, ease and artistry that all just flow naturally.

Skating to 'Eyes on Fire' from the 'Twilight' soundtrack, and 'Supermassive Black Hole' by Muse, she landed a triple Axel-double toe and another triple Axel with impossible grace - and she was just getting started.

A triple flip-Euler-triple Salchow combination, a double Axel, triple flip-triple toe followed in a packed program and though she fell on a triple Lutz, she had done enough.

240.81 overall gave the eldest of these three prodigies European gold on another night to remember for Russia.

Paganini claims 4th place

Alexia Paganini skated a fantastic short program and delivered again in the free skate at the 2020 Euros.

Skating to music from hit film 'Lala Land' the American-born Swiss skater felll on a triple Lutz in combination but recovered so well to land a lovely triple Salchow and a triple loop-double toe-double loop combination.

Sixth at the Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games, Paganini is on the up.

124.06 for her free skate and 199.88 overall, it was over 10 points above her previous personal best, guaranteeing her 4th place.

Polish and Estonian promise

Plenty of other young skaters impressed too.

Polish skater Ekaterina Kurakova who shares coach Brian Orser with double Olympic champion Hanyu Yuzuru put on a fine performance.

The 17-year-old skater landed some strong combinations including a triple Lutz-Euler-triple flip, and a triple loop-double toeloop.

There were some minor errors with a couple of under rotations but a really exciting prospect for Poland.

Kurakova beamed out a brilliant smile at the end of her routine, absolutely delighted with her performance, as was Orser.

Estonia's Eva Lotta Kiibus also put on a show scoring 121.45 on her free skate.

That was a personal best for the 17-year-old that put her into the lead where she stayed until the 19th skater stepped on the ice.

Ice dance: Sinitsina & Katsalapov end Papadakis & Cizeron's reign

Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov are European ice dance champions for the first time after a dramatic free dance in Graz.

PyeongChang 2018 silver medallists Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron were out to make it six-in-a-row in Austria and it was so close, the judges took over six minutes to make a decision.

The tension built and whistles trilled from the stands as the crowd clapped rhythmically demanding that decision.

In the end the decorated French duet's free was just below their customary magnificence and a season's best score from Sinitsina & Katsalapov's took them to the top of the podium.

Skating to 'I Giorni: Andante' by Ludovico Einaudi and 'Songs My Mother Taught Me' by Dvorak, the Russian pair were spellbinding.

Trailing the Olympic silver medallists by 0.05 points after the rhythm dance, they scored 131.69 for a total of 220.42 - 0.14 ahead of Papadakis and Cizeron's overall score.

"This is just amazing, I don't know what to say", were a speechless Nikita Katsalapov's words, and his dance partner Sinitsina summed it up poetically:

"We just looked in each other's eyes and showed everyone how we can skate" - Victoria Sinitsina

And Papadakis and Cizeron were flanked on both sides of the podium by Russian ice dancers as last year's silver medallists Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin from Russia finished in the bronze medal position.

Italy's Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri finished fourth and there was a great skate from British pair Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson who finished fifth on the overall standings.


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