The European Championships happen this week in Tallinn, Estonia, starting with the ice dancers with the compulsory dance. Although European ice dance teams have not had nearly the success of that the North American teams, this competition will be important in gauging the readiness of a few teams who have medal potential in Vancouver.
Related: Free dance at Canadians
Europeans were to have been the return competition for 2008 World champions Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder. But they withdrew last week, which leaves the Olympic Games as their debut competition of the season.
Here is the scoop on the competitors at Europeans:
Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte (Italy) – The Italian silver medalists earned their first trip to the Grand Prix Final last month after taking home two medals during the Grand Prix series. They will be looking to gain some upward momentum at Europeans heading into the Olympics. Their highest finish at Europeans was a fifth place last season.
Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin (Russia) – The reigning World champions made their season debut at their national championships in December, and their original dance and free dance were met with mixed reviews by skating experts (though not by the Russian judges). Have they had enough time to improve on their efforts in Saint Petersburg?
Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali (France) – They are the defending silver medalists at Europeans and will be up against some stiff competition this week. Their free dance is one of the most well-choreographed of the season amongst the European teams, and they should fare well if they skate to their capabilities.
Sinead Kerr and John Kerr (Great Britain) – After a career high bronze medal effort last year, the seven-time British champions are hoping to defending their place on the podium. Their original dance has been received well this season, but their free dance seems to have played more to the crowd than to the judges.
Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski (Russia) – The 2008 World bronze medalists have had a bumpy season so far, with Khokhlova fighting fatigue late last fall, a withdrawal from the Russian championships, and a newly-choreographed free dance that they will debut this week. This competition will certainly test their readiness for Vancouver.
Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat (France) – The Grand Prix Final bronze medalists have had some time off since the Final, having opted to not compete at their national championships. They have never finished higher than fourth at Europeans, but this could be their year to breakthrough onto the podium.
Top 5 Predictions
1. Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali ITA
2. Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat FRA
3. Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin RUS
4. Sinead Kerr and John Kerr GBR
5. Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski RUS
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