Top ice stars skate into Stockholm's Globe
The Local · 27 Jan 2015, 23:31
Published: 27 Jan 2015 23:31 GMT+01:00
Spain's Javier Fernandez will bid for a third consecutive title as a trio of Russian teenagers headline the women’s event.
The first big championship since last year's Winter Olympics in Sochi, the continental showpiece should offer some surprises in the men's and ice dancing events but looks destined for a Russian winner in the women's and pairs.
Russia could also be looking at a men's champion, despite Fernandez, a two-time world bronze medallist coming to the Swedish capital after finishing runner-up at the Grand Prix final.
His participation had been in doubt after a painful foot interrupted his training sessions last week, but declared himself "100 percent' before his journey to Sweden.
The 23-year-old will be looking to become the first skater to win three straight men's titles since Alexander Fadeev skating for the former Soviet Union from 1987 to 1989.
Fernandez's challenges could come from last year's runner-up Sergei Voronov, 27, or Russian champion Maxim Kovtun, 19.
France's Florent Amodio, European champion in 2011, is hoping to put his spiralling drop in form behind him in Stockholm.
"I know I can do it. The European championships are my biggest test. I've built my season around them and I want to do something big," said Amodio to the AFP news agency.
And also to watch will be 16-year-old Russian Adian Pitkeev, a world junior silver medallist, who will make his international debut in Sweden.
Russia's women have been starring in recent international competitions.
Defending women's champion Julia Lipnitskaia did not qualify for the Russian team, but they have no shortage of talent.
Elena Radionova, 16, has impressed this season, as has Anna Pogorilaya, 16. Both will be competing in their first major competition.
But the favourite will be another teenager - Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, at 18 the winner of the Grand Prix final, who has had a remarkable comeback this season after missing out on the Olympics.
In the pairs, Olympic and world silver medallists Ksenia Stolbova et Fedor Klimov will be looking to keep the title in Russian hands.
They will be battling compatriots Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov, the 2010 European champions, who are back after missing the Olympic season because of injury.
The two couples will be hoping to benefit from the absence of three-time winners Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov of Russia.
Russia will also be hoping for gold in the ice dancing with Elena Ilinykh and Ruslan Zhiganshin, but they are not the favourites.
France's Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron have had a impressive start to their second senior season and will be hoping for a first European podium ahead of defending champions Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte of Italy, the reigning world champions.