On paper, the men's event at this week's 2018 European Figure Skating Championships is between two skaters, Javier Fernandez and Mikhail Kolyada. But if you factor in the inconsistency we have seen from the men this season, it could very well be anyone's game. The men will kick off festivities in Moscow tomorrow, so without further ado, here's my look at what might happen this week.
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GOLD Javier Fernandez ESP - Going after his sixth European title, and potentially at his last Europeans, Fernandez has had such a rocky few competitions that we forget that he had the strongest start to the season out of all the men. He defeated Yuzuru Hanyu at Autumn Classic and then Shoma Uno and Nathan Chen at Japan Open. But an errant Cup of China took him completely out of the Grand Prix Final for the first time since 2013. He has stuck with his quad sal and quad toe for a reason - to stay consistent while the other men falter - and it is completely within his grasp to win this title again this week.
SILVER Mikhail Kolyada RUS - A man who has really inserted himself in the conversation this season, Kolyada has made some strides in his consistency this season, landing his tremendous quad lutz in competition for the first time and taking bronze at the Grand Prix Final in December. For him, it's a question of getting the jumps done - he hasn't had anything near a clean free skate yet this season (and he won't if he's going to continue to try that quad salchow that is completely inconsistent for him). But if he holds it together here, he's the biggest threat to Fernandez's reign.
BRONZE Alexander Samarin RUS - The Russian silver medalist has established himself as a premiere jumper, having mastered the quad lutz for this season and using it to full effect. And that jump alone will be his distinguishing factor this week and could propel him to the podium, depending on how clean the rest of the men are. His components don't match some of his competitors, but he more than makes up for them if he stays on his feet.
4. Jorik Hendrickx BEL - After a career-best start to his season, Hendrickx had to withdraw from Skate America. How well he's recovered from whatever caused his withdrawal there will determine how well he places here in Moscow. He has transformed himself into a skater with very strong basics, and that (plus his consistency) will help him overcome his lack of quads, especially relative to his competitors.
5. Dmitri Aliev RUS - It hasn't been the breakout freshman season that Aliev may have been hoping for, but with a bronze at Russian Nationals, he keeps himself in contention for a spot at the Olympics. Aliev is a wonderful all-around skater, and has figured out how to get his quad toe consistent. But injuries this season and lack of stamina in the second half of his programs may keep him from really contending for a medal this week.
6. Moris Kvitelashvili GEO - 13th at World and sixth here at Europeans last season, Kvitelashvili has some big jumps in his arsenal that can make him competitive this week. He's put down some strong programs this season, especially on the Challenger Series.
7. Michal Brezina CZE - The 2013 European bronze medalist has been hot and cold all season, but he has definitely shown signs that his jumps have slowly but surely returned under the tutelage of Rafael Arutyunyan. Two clean programs will make him competitive for a medal, but that's a big if for a guy who just hasn't hit the percentages in competition.
8. Alexei Bychenko ISR - A couple of very strong showings on the Grand Prix gave Bychenko quite the boost in his season after a pretty mediocre start in the early fall. He was fifth at Euros last season but won the silver the year before.
9. Matteo Rizzo ITA - The new Italian champion has been having a very solid season, with some strong showings on the Challenger Series. This is his first big competition of the season, and he returns to Europeans after a 13th two years ago in his first and only showing.
10. Daniel Samohin ISR - The last time we saw the talented Samohin was when he dislocated his shoulder mid-free skate at Skate America. He got back to training a few weeks after that but you wonder if he will be playing it a bit safer here at Europeans, especially with an Olympics appearance to safeguard. If he goes for everything, it could go anywhere, but if he does water down, look for him to be competitive for the top six.