Ice Network

Hungarian Goulash: Saying 'Szia!' from Budapest

Igor 'wins' first Europeans; Fernández, Voronov bring levity to pressers
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Incredibly, Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte are the first Igor Shpilband-coached team to win the European ice dance title. -Getty Images

Can you believe it? Igor Shpilband had not won everything!

"Can you believe that this was Igor's first European title?" Anna Cappellini said. "At Cup of Russia, his pupils went 1-2-3, and you would think he had won everything there is to win on earth. Well, we are his first European champions!"

Trankov's seventh heaven

Statisticians have proven (easily, I must say) that "7" is the figure with the best chance to be rolled with two dice. That may be the reason why it is widely considered the luckiest number as well. Maxim Trankov has another reason to consider "7" his favorite charm: He was born Oct. 7. "You know what?" he said after the short program. "2014 may be a very good year for us, because 2 plus 0 plus 1 plus 4 makes 7!"

After "Chan-flation," "Fernández-ities"?

Javier Fernández of Spain is a jolly good fellow on the ice and beyond. Fernández loves to play with the audience as he is skating (and with the judges, as was seen during the men's free program), and he also loves to play with the journalists during press conferences. "You scored 267 points in Budapest, but you are still 30 points behind Patrick Chan. What do you think you need to do to catch his scores?" a journalist asked him. "Well, I don't know. Maybe I would have to injure him or add 10 quads to my program?" The whole room erupted in laughter, as did he. (His next sentence was: "Let's be serious." Patrick can be reassured!)

The next question was, "Do you remember your first Europeans?" "It was a long time ago. ... I don't remember the placement, but I think I did not qualify. I was like an eskimo playing volleyball -- it's something that does not fit with Spain!" Chan gave his name (though beyond his own control) to the physical phenomenon of component score increase when he takes the ice. Maybe Fernández could give his to the phenomenon of increasing the laughter volume in a room?

Fernández-ities viral properties

Actually, Sergei Voronov made his own Fernández-ity during the same press conference, as he was sitting next to the Spanish skater. When asked what was so special about his training team, which produced two medalists in Budapest (first with Lipnitskaia, then with him), he laughed and answered: "Russian mafia!" General laughter followed. (His next sentence was, "No, just kidding!" and he started answering in Russian again.) Voronov had never been known as a joyful character, so might this suggest that he had been contaminated by the amount of Fernández-ities around? The best physicians in the world would be grateful if Fernández could sit in a press conference at the Olympics so that the above property can be confirmed. 

Russian pair ballet

Imagine that you are sitting in front for the last group of practice for the pairs. Four couples are practicing before the afternoon's free program: Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy, Vera Bazarova nad Yuri Larionov, Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov, and, of course, Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov. All of a sudden, at the two opposite points of the rink, two pairs start a lift. Same speed, same position, almost the mirror image of each other. Flying over the clouds were Stolbova, on one end, and Savchenko, on the other. They landed almost at the same time. Volosozhar and Trankov were finishing their music and launched their death spiral in the middle of the rink. The ballet lasted a couple of seconds, as magical as it was not even organized or thought of. Thank you, artists.

Skating on Sunday was no sin, after all…

Maybe Trankov will disagree, after the team's "crash program" of the afternoon, but skating on Sunday did prove a huge success, as the rink was particularly full for the pairs competition. "We are honored to be able to skate on Sunday," Ondrej Hotarek, the Italian pairs skater, even suggested. "This way, people who work during the week get a chance to see us. Usually, the pairs skate first in the middle of the week, at a time when people are not even talking of the championships. This time is completely different. That's really a big deal for the pairs." It was suggested earlier in the week (see Goulash No. 1) that setting the pairs competition on Sunday was requested by a German TV channel to fit with their own sports program. The story does not tell how they took their champions' withdrawal, though.

A final bow

Fernández has now ended playing an edgy Superman on the ice (his final exhibition), and Kim Lucine has ended throwing him a bucket of water. The big curtain has closed on the scene of figure skating. Not for long, however. Just two weeks are left before the greatest of all events. So much will happen until then, among which the nomination of the Russian team. Plushenko or not Plushenko? Who else?

Thank you so much to all of you who have followed us this week. Europeans preceding the Olympics are always a treat, and I am grateful and honored to have been able to live them along with you. We are lucky to have skating as a passion. We are blessed to have the greatest entertainers and artists as champions, and the best champions as entertainers and artists. May the Games light the flame inside many children on their way to the ice rinks of the world. May passion bless many more adults along the way. There is nothing like a passion. Thank you all!