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Bobrova, Soloviev ride rumba to slim lead at Euros

Lower levels plague French; British are surprising fourth

Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev are in search of their first European title.
Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev are in search of their first European title. (Getty Images)

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By Klaus-Reinhold Kany, special to icenetwork.com
(01/25/2012) - There were surprises galore in the short dance at the 2012 European Championships, starting with the winners, Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev of Russia, who upset French favorites Natalie Péchalat and Fabian Bourzat, the defending champions.

Bobrova and Soloviev finished more than 12 points behind the French at the Grand Prix Final, but here they skated with good speed, got mainly +1 and some +2 grades of execution (GOE), and attained Level 3 for both of their rumba sequences. They earned 65.06 points.

"Being in first place is a big success for us," Soloviev said. "We are very happy with the way we performed today."

The French skated their samba routine with good energy and no mistakes but gained just Level 2 and 3 for their rumba sequences, and Level 2 for their step sequence. In prior competitions, they had gained Levels 3 and 4.

"I really do not know why we did not get the levels as usual," Bourzat said. "I felt good after our performance. Maybe there was a jump in the bracket, or maybe some edges were not clean enough. We will have to ask."

The distance between the two teams is just 0.17 points.

Another surprise placement was the third-place finish of Ekaterina Riazanova and Ilia Tkachenko, who were only third at Russian nationals. They got Level 3 and 4 for their rumba sequences, and had only 0.08 less in the technical elements mark than Bobrova and Soloviev. Overall, they earned 61.34 points.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was the fourth-place finish of British couple Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland, who train in New Jersey under Evgeni Platov. They were only 14th at Europeans last season, as the number two British couple behind Sinead Kerr and John Kerr. The Brits skated in a fresh style and gained Level 4 for both of their rumba sequences, earning 59.78 points.

Yet another surprise was the fifth-place showing of the Lithuanian couple, Isabella Tobias and Deividas Stagniunas, who train under Igor Shpilband and Marina Zoueva in the world's leading ice dance school in Canton, Mich. Tobias, a ballet dancer in her childhood, has a lot of talent for the spread eagle movements required in the rumba, and the couple earned Level 4 for both of the sequences.

The final surprise: None of the 20 couples had a fall or even a serious mistake.

Note: During a meeting with coaches, skaters and judges, the ISU announced next season's pattern dances, two sequences of which must be included in the short dances. Seniors must execute the Yankee Polka, while juniors will do blues.