Russia's Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev perform during the ice dance short dance program at the European Figure Skating Championships in ZagrebRussia’s Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev perform during the ice dance short dance program at the European Figure Skating Championships in Zagreb, January 23, 2013. (REUTERS/Antonio Bronic)

Courtesy of isu.org

The 2013 ISU European Figure Skating Championships opened in Zagreb, Croatia on Wednesday with the Short Dance and the Pairs Short Program.

Ekaterina Bobrova/Dmitri Soloviev (RUS) capture lead in Short Dance

Russia’s Ekaterina Bobrova/Dmitri Soloviev captured a narrow lead in the Short Dance over teammates Elena Ilinykh/Nikita Katsalapov. Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte of Italy are currently sitting in third place.

Bobrova/Soloviev put out a Waltz and Polka to music from the Russian movies “Put in a Good Word for the Poor Hussar” and “The Crew” and picked up a level four for both Yankee Polka sequences as well as for the straight line lift. The two-time and reigning European silver medalists scored a seasons best of 69.42 points. “It was one of our best performances but not the very best. I see we got a level three on the twizzles, and we are not happy about that. But we are very pleased to have a level four for both Polka sequences for the first time this season. We’ve worked really hard on the Polka”, Soloviev commented.

Ilinykh/Katsalapov danced an oriental themed Polka and earned a level four for the twizzles, the first Polka part and the rotational lift to post a season best of 68.98 points. “We skated well, we love our short program and we are happy with how we skated. There were a few small things I would have liked to perfect – perhaps it was noticeable to the audience, perhaps not. It is very warm out there and hard to breathe, but the ice is good so we were able to skate well. The crowd was amazing, we would like to thank our fans for their support. We want to fight for the gold medal at these Championships”, Katsalapov said.

Cappellini/Lanotte’s Polka, Waltz and Polka to the “Seven Brides for Seven Brothers” soundtrack was highlighted by level-four twizzles and a level-four rotational lift while the two Polka sequences merited a level three. The Italian Champions achieved a new seasons best as well with 66.53 points. “We are extremely happy with our performance today. Our goal was a clean program and giving everything to the audience”, Lanotte told the press. “We had fun. The crowd was cheering and that made it go very quickly. We got a season’s best as well so we are very happy with that”, Cappellini added.

Ekaterina Riazanova/Ilia Tkachenko (RUS) finished fourth with 64.52 points ahead of Julia Zlobina/Alexei Sitnikov (AZE/60.93 points) and Penny Coomes/Nicholas Buckland (GBR/60.59 points).

Tatiana Volosozhar/Maxim Trankov (RUS) win Pairs Short Program

Tatiana Volosozhar/Maxim Trankov of Russia won the Pairs Short Program ahead of Germans Aliona Savchenko/ Robin Szolkowy. Stefania Berton/Ondrej Hotarek of Italy follow in third.

Skating to “The Godfather”, Volosozhar/Trankov produced a triple twist, side by side triple Salchow, a throw triple loop and picked up a level four for the footwork, the spin and the lift. The 2012 European Champions scored 73.23 points. “Overall I am pleased. It was a good skate. We want a clean skate in the free program as well. They were very well prepared for the championships but of course after the death of Maxim’s father (on Sunday) they are not quite in the right state of mind”, coach Nina Mozer said.

Savchenko/Szolkowy’s routine to “Kismet” featured a throw triple flip, triple toeloop, a triple twist and three level-four elements as well. The four-time World Champions earned 70.21 points. “We are kind of satisfied. We did a mistake in our spin that never happens actually”, Szolkowy told the press. “Because of our late arrival we didn’t have the chance to train here in the main rink. It is a different feeling if you know the rink before. You feel more comfortable and you have a better orientation”, he explained.

Berton/Hotarek landed a triple toe, triple twist and a throw triple loop in their program to “Paint It Black” to post a new seasons best of 64.28 points. “We are ecstatic about our performance. It was the first time for us to come to competition completely ready. We’ve had a great season so far because we were healthy”, Hotarek said. “We got the small medal (for the short program) for the first time and hopefully we’ll skate as good in the long program”, his partner added.

Vanessa James/Morgan Cipres (FRA) placed fourth at 59.27 points followed by 2010 European Champions Yuko Kavaguti/Alexander Smirnov (RUS) with 56.20 points. Mari Vartmann/Aaron van Cleave (GER) round up the top six at 55.14 points.

The ISU European Figure Skating Championships 2013 continue Thursday with the Men’s Short Program and the Pairs Free Skating.