The 2014 European Figure Skating Championships wrap up on Sunday afternoon in Budapest.
So far, it's been a thrilling event, highlighted by Javier Fernandez repeating as men's champion. He won the gold last year in Zagreb, and his score of 267.11 this year was good enough to take home the gold once again.
Fifteen-year-old Julia Lipnitskaia stole the show on Friday, finishing first in the free skate portion of the ladies' event with a score of 139.75. That bumped her total up to 209.72, which was good enough for gold. It's the first gold medal for Lipnitskaia outside of the junior championships, and it's unlikely to be her last.
Heading into the final event—the pairs free skate—Russia are on top of the medal chart, with five. They've had a winner in every event so far and, as a result, have built a near-unassailable lead. Unless Italy sweep the podium in pairs, it's Russia's championship to lose.
So without further ado, here's a quick preview heading into Sunday's pairs event.
Where: Syma Sport and Events Centre, Budapest, Hungary
When: Sunday, Jan. 19, at 11 a.m. CET; 5 a.m. ET
TV Info: NBC Sports Network (Replay airing at 4 p.m. ET)
Live Stream: NBC Sports Live Extra
|Gold||Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte||Italy||171.61|
|Silver||Elena Ilinykh/Nikita Katsalapov||Russia||170.51|
|Bronze||Penny Coomes/Nicholas Buckland||Great Britain||158.69|
Is it that much of a surprise that a Russian pair is at the top of the standings in the pairs after the short program?
The tandem of Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov are in pole position after their short program earned a score of 83.98. They're the reigning champions and displayed exactly why last Friday. Volosozhar and Trankov had a near flawless performance, leaving the judges with a rather easy decision in terms of scoring.
Trankov admitted that nerves became a factor late in the run, but he and his partner pushed through it, per the Associated Press (via ESPN.com):
We were nervous as we skated toward the end -- next to last -- and the tension was high. But we were able to deal with it and skated in a good mood."
For us it's a good result for the moment. We hope we will get our third (European) title.
If anybody is going to knock off Volosozhar and Trankov, it may well be the German pair of Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy. They're the only ones within 10 points of the leaders, at 76.76. Had Savchenko not touched the ice following a throw triple flip, the Germans would have been a much bigger threat for gold. But as things stand now, they'll need a massive effort to overtake the Russians.
It was an unexpected gaffe for a team that won silver at both the World Championships and European Championships in 2013.
Two Russian teams round out the top four.
Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov are in third place with a 71.70, while Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov are lurking right behind with a 70.90. Although it will take a lot to supplant Savchenko and Szolkowy to take silver, these two teams should have an interesting fight for bronze.
However unlikely it is, there's also the chance a team lower down in the standings makes the perfect run that takes them from the outhouse into the penthouse.
Konstantin Menshov posted the 11th-best score in the men's short program but recovered in the free skate to earn bronze, so it's not outside the realm of possibility that a pairs team can make a similar jump.