When this week is all said and done, a new record will likely be in the books. No ice dance team has ever won more than four consecutive European titles. Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron are at four right now, tied with Natalia Bestemianova/Andrei Bukin, Liudmila Pakhomova/Alexander Gorshkov, and Diane Towler/Bernard Ford for the record of four in a row. Tough to see how they can be stopped this week in Minsk.
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GOLD Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron FRA - Having withdrawn from their first event after Cizeron took a hard fall that hurt his back in practice, they picked up exactly where they left off and grabbed the biggest scores of the season at Internationaux de France. The big question will be how the other teams match up with them this week - will it be close or will Papadakis/Cizeron just extend their gap over the rest of the field?
SILVER Victoria Sinitsina/Nikita Katsalapov RUS - Silver at the Grand Prix Final had to have been quite the confidence boost for them. After all, they overtook Stepanova/Bukin, who have been seen as the next dance team to reign over Russia. And after a few false starts the past couple of seasons, Sinitsina/Katsalapov seem to have found their rhythm. They are favorites for silver in Minsk.
BRONZE Alexandra Stepanova/Ivan Bukin RUS - Disappointingly off the podium at the Grand Prix Final, Stepanova/Bukin really bring a fresh look to Russian ice dance that has made their skating beloved on an international level. They are still a less refined team overall than the other top teams here, and so if there is anything they have a deficit on, it’s that they may just be less clean than their main competitors.
4. Charlene Guignard/Marco Fabbri ITA - In a lot of ways, the new Italian champs have been the surprise breakout team of the season. They have made a lot of steady progress over the past few seasons, but they have really won over the audience and the judges with their precision and style this season. A medal is very much within reach.
5. Olivia Smart/Adrian Diaz ESP - The Spanish ice dance showdown continues. Smart/Diaz narrowly lost to Hurtado/Khaliavin last month at nationals. It’s been a back and forth between these two teams, who are both evenly matched and completely different in style.
6. Sara Hurtado/Kirill Khaliavin ESP - Another win for them here over Smart/Diaz and they will be off to the World Championships, so the stakes are pretty high for this competition. They were eighth at last year’s Europeans.
7. Lilah Fear/Lewis Gibson GBR - What a difference a disco free dance can make! Fear/Gibson have not only produced visible improvements in their skating this season, but they have also accompanied it with crowd-pleasing content that has made them popular among the audience. The last time they were here was two years ago, when they were 15th. They will certainly be higher than that this week.
8. Marie-Jade Lauriault/Romain Le Gac FRA - They were 12th the past two years at Europeans, but they have had a very strong season so far, grabbing bronze at two Challenger events and showing that they can hang with some of the best teams.
9. Sofia Evdokimova/Egor Bazin RUS - The surprise Russian bronze medalists have been on the senior ranks for the past three seasons. This will be their Europeans debut.
10. Natalia Kaliszek/Maksym Spodyriev POL - The Polish champs have a tendency to be hot or cold - they are coming off a very strong showing in December at both the Four Nationals event and at Golden Spin.