Ice Network

Czech guláš: Fernández in league of his own

Crowd helps Massot celebrate birthday; Medvedeva's cat gets a breather
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Javier Fernández claimed his fifth straight European crown last week in Ostrava, and his tireless work ethic remains a major reason for his continued success. -Getty Images

A 'pair' of birthdays

The organizers of the 2017 European Figure Skating Championships put together a wonderful event, providing plenty of entertainment for the crowd during each ice resurface.

During the free dance, they asked Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot to return to the kiss and cry for one final interview. Led by Tomáš Verner -- who conducted the interview in English and translated it into Czech -- they also had a surprise up their sleeve. Along with Savchenko, Verner and the entire crown in Ostrava began to sing "Happy Birthday" to Massot, who turned 28 on Saturday.

Savchenko and Massot are quite a well-matched pair from a birthdate perspective, as her birthday falls on Jan. 19 and his on Jan. 28. Though Massot celebrates his birthday each year at Europeans, Savchenko only recognizes her birthday at Europeans in Olympic years.

It's no wonder Savchenko has such high aspirations for reaching the Winter Games -- she was born for it!

Spanish anthem

On Saturday night, the Ostravar Aréna cheered and yelled for the evening's hero, Spain's Javier Fernández, who won his fifth consecutive European title. The last skater to achieve such a feat was the late Ondrej Nepela, who won the title between 1969 and 1973 (Nepela also won the Olympic gold medal in 1972).

Fernández climbed on top of the podium and turned toward his flag for his national anthem. The Spanish anthem is not supposed to last too long, but this time it lasted longer than anyone expected. The crowd even started to laugh, wondering if it would ever stop.

"The Spanish anthem can be short, it can be long," Fernández said with a chuckle. "It all depends, but it's not my fault. Anyway, I like to hear it. It's a good one!"

Surely his fans have become familiar with the anthem by now, just like "Malagueña," the music of his short program.

Green Room fun

The good thing about putting the Green Room in the mixed zone is that you can sneak a peek into it and get a better idea of what's going on with the event participants. Even though his free program was not as successful as he would have hoped, Latvia's Deniss Vasiljevs made a grand debut into the Green Room of a European championships for the first time in his young career.

As he felt quite lonely, he asked if his coach, Stéphane Lambiel, could join him so that he could talk about his mixed feelings. A few moments later, Carolina Kostner, who has always been a great friend of Lambiel's, also joined the two.

The three exited the private room some 20 minutes later, each one with a noticeable smile. We can't report on the topics they shared, but we can assure you they had a great time.

Uncovering Laurine's secrets

The buzz made by Laurine Lecavelier's change of costume in the middle of her free program didn't stop in Ostrava, and was one of the major topics in the media center Saturday morning. Icenetwork can now reveal Lecavelier's secret, as the fifth-placed French national champion kindly visited us later that afternoon.

"When I end my layback spin, I move my arms around my body up to my shoulders," Lecavelier explained. "That's where the fasteners are, and I just free them in the course of my movement. The trick is to have the black dress fall exactly over my previous outfit. It doesn't work perfectly each time, but the colors match, so it's not a real problem.

Resting Luna

World-record holder and newly crowned 2017 European champion Evgenia Medvedeva spent the afternoon and evening at the Ostravar Aréna watching the competition in support of her Russian teammates.

Despite her recent dominance, it was not so easy to recognize Medvedeva. For one, she wears really long hair, which she, of course, never lets free when she skates. Additionally, her beloved pet, Luna Moon, did not follow her. Was there a particular reason for Luna Moon's absence?

"No, today she had to rest, because she had to work so much this week," Medvedeva explained while laughing.

For sure, beating two world records (for the free and total score) must be exhausting for a small kitty.

Dancing floor

A stack of stairs allows entry from the concourse of the Ostravar Aréna down to the lower levels. There is one rule, however, as no one can enter the competition area while a program is going on. Thick and well-secured black curtains close at the start of each routine, and flocks of people usually gather behind them, waiting for the end of each program before they can return to their seats.

From an entertainment perspective, Italy's Ivan Righini delivered the most enjoyable program Saturday night, at least behind the black curtain. The music for his Elvis Presley free skate was an instant hit, with people dancing to it behind the curtain.

Too bad Righini could not witness the scene, as he was fighting so hard to land his jumps on the other side. His program may not have been his best from a scoring standpoint, as he finished 13th, but it was certainly popular behind the scenes.

Javier's master class

Fernández is known for his incredible jumping ability, even when the landing is not ideal. This was evident during his free skate, when two of his jumps -- a quad and triple axel -- weren't his finest.

"I think every single skater will agree that sometimes the take-off of a jump is good and sometimes it is not," Fernández explained. "When landing, you have to be prepared for anything that can happen. When I do a jump, I don't say 'Oh no, the take-off was not good enough, let's do a triple instead.' I go for it every time. In practice, I tell myself the same thing. I try to do the best jumps and land them the best I can. This, I think, is the best way to train."

His results surely prove it as he remains a dominant force in the world of figure skating.