For each of the past five years, a slew of Russian women have been on the podium at the European Championships. They swept the podium twice, but in the other three years, Carolina Kostner was the spoiler. This year, Kostner is sitting out, still recovering from injury, and so Russia is on track for another three medals here in Minsk this week.
European Championships predictions
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GOLD Alina Zagitova RUS - It was a difficult Russian Nationals for the Olympic champion. She let her jitters and her slight uncertainty on her triple lutz get to her and her free skate just went downhill. It was flashback to last year’s World Championships, and a reminder that Zagitova is very much human. Whatever the case, the hope is that she’s been able to put that behind her and bounce back for Europeans. After all, this was the event that was the springboard for her last season toward the Olympics. She comes in as the heavy favorite and should take home gold again.
SILVER Sofia Samodurova RUS - Charisma and consistency - those are the two things that have catapulted Samodurova to where she is in her very first season on the senior ranks. It’s been a quick and perhaps unexpected ascent for her, and she is right on track for another medal this season. The results here will likely also be crucial for her chances at getting onto the World team for Russia - two more clean skates here and she could very well find herself in Saitama in two months.
BRONZE Stanislava Konstantinova RUS - Same goes for Konstantinova. Though her international season has not been quite as stellar as Samodurova’s, she did finish ahead of her and Zagitova at Russian Nationals (and by a fraction of a point over Zagitova in a nailbiter). Nerves have proven to be her downfall at big international events, so with what’s potentially on the line this week, Konstantinova will need to be as steely tough as she was at Russian Nationals.
4. Mae Berenice Meite FRA - She’s had brilliant moments this season, most notably in her very first competition at Autumn Classic and then again in her most recent competition at French Nationals. Given the depth that the Russian team has, it will likely be a long shot for Meite to figure into the medals. But stranger things have happened in figure skating. Not unlike last season, it will be another international head-to-head against teammate Laurine Lecavelier for a spot at Worlds.
5. Laurine Lecavelier FRA - And for Lecavelier, finding that sweet spot where she’s confident in her abilities again will be of most importance. She was fifth here two years ago, but her results have been back and forth in the time since.
6. Alexia Paganini SUI - After a stunner fourth-place finish at her very first Grand Prix event at Rostelecom Cup, Paganini came back to earth just a bit after. But she has shown that she has the ability to put together strong, clean skating with difficult content.
7. Viveca Lindfors FIN - Eighth and then 23rd and then 14th - those are the last three European Championships for Lindfors. And just as her record at Euros indicates, she is a streaky skater, capable of delivering strong programs like she did winning bronze medals at Finlandia and Tallinn this season. She’s also capable of falling apart in competition. If she puts down two strong skates this week, top five is very much possible.
8. Nicole Schott GER - Trying to jumpstart her season after a knee injury that has kept her out of most of the fall, the German champ perhaps looks to be on her way back up the ladder after a solid showing at her national championships last month.
9. Emmi Peltonen FIN - If she delivered, she could be one of the best her. Peltonen is known for her powerful and musically-sensitive skating, but her jumps just don’t work out for her in competition.
10. Eliska Brezinova CZE - A couple of strong finishes for her last season had skating observers wondering if she was on her way up in the rankings. Brezinova has some big jumps that could help her disrupt this top ten if she skates well.