Ice Network

Czech guláš: Samohin battles on borrowed blades

Lecavelier's quick costume change remains mystery; Fernández has a ball
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Nothing went right this week for world junior champion Daniel Samohin, who missed out on qualifying for the free skate after finishing just 33rd in the short program. -Getty Images

"I've covered figure skating championships for more than 50 years now," a German photographer offered after the ladies free program, "and I've never seen that before."

"That" is how France's Laurine Lecavelier changed costumes in just a tenth of a second during her free program.

"What was the trick?" the photographer wondered, probably as most of the audience did as well.

Usually cameras can provide answers. His could not, however. In one picture, you can see Lecavelier dressed up like a teenager, wearing a light blue and pink outfit, performing a beautiful layback spin. In the next frame, she is wearing a plain black evening dress.

"Ich war verblüfft!" he concluded. (Translation: "I was just bluffed!")

"I just have four fast-fasteners, which I open after my spin," Lecavelier revealed. (I'll let you figure out when she opens them!) "But the most difficult (part) was to find the right material and the right length so that the lining would fit exactly the first costume."

Changing costumes...a new opening for skating? For covering it, for sure!

Mishin's big heart

Among all the plush toys and gifts that were thrown to the ice by Carolina Kostner's fans after her magnificent free program was a big red fluffed heart. She grabbed it and took it along to the kiss and cry area. There, after sitting down and waiving to her fans, she gave it to her coach, as she would have done with her guards before taking the ice. Alexei Mishin took Carolina's heart -- what else could he have done? -- and he, the strict and serious ironman of the week, kept it throughout, in front of millions of TV viewers, through the reading of the marks. Sure, Mr. Mishin's heart must have been big that night, after his protégé's inspired program.

Skating soccer

The end of the post-event press conference after the men's free skate offered quite an unusual and playful moment, as the press room soon became…a soccer pitch! One journalist asked Javier Fernández how much he enjoyed playing soccer, since he comes from Spain, where the sport is virtually a religion. Suddenly, as if by magic, there appeared a soccer ball. Fernández started playing with the other skating Javier, Spain's Javier Raya, in front of the journalists and photographers. Fernández demonstrated his agility, sending the ball from one foot to the top of his finger.

Where did the ball come from? After extensive inquiry, we must report that no one was able to find out. Only one thing is for sure: When Fernández had to rush from the TV booths down to the draw room, he kept his skates on and didn't carry the ball with him.

Where is the ball now? Well, icenetwork is able to break the news: The ball is being watched carefully by the volunteers at the media center. Don't count on them giving it back, though.

"It's our trophy now," they offered triumphantly. "Javier has played with it!"

The spin-up girl

Friday night, the last group of ladies entered the ice and did their Caesar salute (see yesterday's gulash) before their six-minute warmup. One girl rushed to one end of the rink, while four went to the other end. Evgenia Medvedeva belonged to the second group. She looked so eager to fight the ice again, rushing her arms and legs as if she were boxing on a motorcycle.

Only one girl didn't move: Kostner. Staying in the very middle of the rink where she had been standing, almost without a push, she launched the most beautiful combination spin. Knowing her, her aim was certainly not to be the center of attention. But actually she was -- as she has been during these entire Championships. Spins are priceless!

Skateless courage

Israel's Daniel Samohin had the most frustrating European championships imaginable. His suitcase (with his skates in it) was lost somewhere between San Diego, California, and Ostrava. Friday morning, four hours and 20 minutes before he was due to skate his short program, the 2016 world junior champion tested a new pair of skates at practice for the first time. He started by cautiously trying a single axel, and managed to land a double axel. His triple axel eluded him a few times until he finally landed a clean one, about 20 minutes before the end of his practice. He then went on for his quad salchow, again starting with doubles and triples. He finally rotated the four revolutions but fell on the landing. He tried his jumps again in the warmup period, and again in his two-minute final warmup.

"I told Daniel, 'It's your choice now. If you don't feel 100 percent, you withdraw,'" his father and coach, Igor Samohin, explained. "I don't want him to over-rush, for obvious health reasons. 'I want to try,' he said. He is hard at it!

"You usually need four or five days, at the least, before you start to feel your skates a little bit," Igor Samohin continued, "not a few minutes. The skates Daniel wore were a little faster than his usual ones. It's a matter of rhythm. Each jump has its own rhythm.

"It's just like when you run: Your own rhythm can take you for miles, but if someone comes and makes you run faster, then you'll be exhausted rapidly. Daniel needs to feel the rhythm of each jump and adjust his effort through the pressure he feels on his boots. It's just like when you ride a new horse: You need to adjust the pressure you exert on the reins to make him go faster or hold him back."

There was no miracle in the actual competition, and Daniel Samohin did not qualify for the free program. But he proved two things: that he is an incredible fighter, and that he is able to master even the most difficult jumps under the most trying of circumstances.