Didn't we just finish with US and Canadian Nationals? We sure did. And now, we are off to Championship season! The first of the ISU Championships is happening - TOMORROW! The 2016 European Figure Skating Championships starts us off, and the men and ladies will be kicking off festivities on Wednesday in Bratislava. And since everyone's attention spans are a little short right now, here's a quick and dirty preview of the men's event.
GOLD Javier Fernandez ESP - The one to spoil the possible Russian podium sweep is also the one who is extremely favored for the gold here. And yes, unless anything completely unpredictable happens, Fernandez will win his fourth consecutive European title. He is coming off one of the best free skates he's delivered in competition at Grand Prix Final. But the fact is that this will be a warm-up for Worlds for him, and it will also be the first time in international competition he attempts two quads in his short program.
SILVER Maxim Kovtun RUS - The defending silver medalist has looked decent this season, with the exception of an absolutely disastrous free skate at NHK Trophy that dropped him to tenth. But he recovered in December to win his third Russian title. He's got the technical firepower to be the favorite for silver, but his components will keep him from staying competitive with Fernandez if both are clean.
BRONZE Mikhail Kolyada RUS - Fresh off a (somewhat) surprise silver at Russian Nationals, what's on the line for Kolyada is not just a medal at Europeans, but also one of the two spots on the World team. And his main competition there will be Alexander Petrov, who is super consistent but quad-less. But Kolyada does look to be the stronger and more all-around of the two, which should put him on the podium in his Europeans debut.
4. Alexander Petrov RUS - Petrov has been everything you want in a reliable skater. And though his programs are technically less impressive than those of the other top guys, he is steady enough that the inconsistency around him will knock one skater after another behind him. Look for a solid debut for the Russian bronze medalist.
5. Michal Brezina CZE - Speaking of inconsistent, Brezina will bring you some good ol' fashioned inconsistency. This is a guy who has just been completely out of sorts in most of his competitions this season. But the field is likely not deep enough for him to drop too far even if he made some mistakes. But a clean Brezina is definitely podium-worthy - though I'm putting some low odds on that one.
Outsiders: Two others to watch out for are Daniel Samohin and Florent Amodio. Samohin, 10th last year, is a super jumper with two different quads in his arsenal. And two clean programs can definitely get him to the top five, but he's wildly inconsistent. Amodio, the 2011 champion, has seen his consistency and confidence decline for the past few years. Bratislava will be his last competition before retirement, so it will certainly be an emotional one for him. If he can somehow muster two strong skaters, he could find himself on the podium.