Pechalat and Bourzat wrap up European crown

Russians take silver, bronze; big shift in standings from short dance

Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat rose from second to first to repeat as Euro champions.
Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat rose from second to first to repeat as Euro champions. (Getty Images)


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By Klaus-Reinhold Kany, special to
(01/27/2012) - The ice dance judging panel in Sheffield reversed some of its surprising decisions from the short dance.

Nathalie Péchalat and Fabian Bourzat of France, who have trained in Detroit since last summer, moved up one spot and are European champions for the second time in a row. The Grand Prix Final bronze medalists performed a flawless version of their "Pharaoh and his Mummy" free dance that gained 164.18 points. All of their elements worked well, and they earned a +2 Grade of Execution (GOE) on the average.

"We're pretty happy at this moment," Bourzat said. "After the hard beginning with the short dance, we just had to go on the ice and fight. We were the reigning European champions and there is no way we would let go of this.

"We trained to get more relaxed on the ice, and we went out with anger and determination. Nathalie was less confident about the result than me. Our legs were really tired. I think it was the stress."

For the second consecutive year, silver went to Russians Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev, who were sixth at the Grand Prix Final and also second at last year's Europeans. They earned 160.23 points for their program to Charles Gounod's "Walpurgis Night," although they gained just Level 2 on the twizzle sequence.

"We skated well overall technically and emotionally," Soloviev said. "Unfortunately, I made a stupid error. In the twizzle series, I didn't grab my leg. Maybe I was too calm or too confident and didn't pay enough attention to the element."

"For me personally, it was our best performance of the season," Bobrova said. "It wasn't easy to skate. I think we proved in the short dance that we can compete with the winners."

Young Russians Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov moved up from seventh to third place. Their free skate to "Ave Maria" earned 153.12 points.

"It was amazing and so easy to skate today," Katsalapov said. "Our goal was to skate with a lot of feeling between us, so that it seemed as though no one else was on the ice, just us.

"After the short program, we were a little bit sad. We like our short dance very much and in our practice we did it very well and at nationals, too. But here it was our worst performance. Our circular step sequence has always been a Level 4 but here it was Level 1."

"In the short dance, the judges were not good to us," Ilinykh said. "But in our free dance we had the feeling between us."

Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte of Italy moved up from sixth to fourth place. The third Russian couple, Ekaterina Riazanova and Ilia Tkachenko, dropped from third to fifth place because of lack of speed and accompanying low components scores.

Britons Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland went from fourth to sixth, but nevertheless ended up astonishingly high. Lithuanians Isabella Tobias and Deividas Stagniunas, who train under Marina Zoueva and Igor Shpilband in Canton, Mich., fell from fifth to 10th place after Tobias stumbled on the twizzle sequence.