Adam Siao Him Fa defends European title


Adam Siao Him Fa defends European title

(L-R) Aleksandr Selevko of Estonia, Adam Siao Him Fa of France and Matteo Rizzo of Italy pose in the Men’s medal ceremony during the 2024 ISU European Figure Skating Championships in Kaunas, Lithuania.

Adam Siao Him Fa of France defended his European title on Friday night in Kaunas, Lithuania. Aleksandr Selevko took the second spot on the podium becoming the first skater from Estonia to medal at an ISU Championships event. Matteo Rizzo of Italy pocketed the bronze, his third European medal.

Adam Siao Him Fa

In the short program, Siao Him Fa put a hand down on a quad Lutz in his routine to “The Prophet.” The defending champion recovered to land a solid triple Axel but doubled the last jump in a quad toe-triple toe. However, he displayed very good skating skills, edge work and presentation and picked up a level four on all other elements. The step sequence in particular received +1.73 grades of execution (GOE). He scored 94.13 points for first place going into the free skate.

“It was not the best performance of the season,” acknowledged the two-time national champion. “It was pretty fun to skate tonight. I tried to not think about the pressure and just enjoy the competition. I think the Grand Prix Final was a great opportunity for me and I learned a lot from this. While the quad Lutz didn’t work that well during the practice, there was no option for me changing it. It’s a jump I can usually even do when I am very tired.”

The skater, who one both solo Grand Prix events this season, fought through the first half of his ambitious free skate to music by Max Richter. He hung on to his opening quad Lutz before falling on a quad toe and turning out a quad Salchow. However, the second half of his routine was solid and featured a quad toe-triple toe (+2.04 GOE) and triple Axel. The footwork was stellar, earning a level four, as did his three spins, and he finished first in the free skate and overall (182.04/276.17).

“I was feeling really good when I arrived at the rink and in the warm-up,” said the 22-year-old. “I felt kind of shaky when I came back on the ice, but I was confident with myself, and I fought until the end of the program. It was really fun to skate tonight in Kaunas and I really enjoyed it even if it wasn’t perfect. It was really fun.”

The skater also did an illegal back flip during the choreo sequence, sucking up a two-point deduction.

“It’s a little French touch,” he explained, adding that he did it for the crowd.

“It takes more energy to do it in the free program than in the exhibition, but I felt good and I had the energy to do it,” he said. “I wanted to perform it for the audience. I did it to push our sport. It’s less dangerous than it looks like.”

He thinks a back flip would be too risky at Worlds, but he won’t exclude doing it.

Aleksandr Selevko

Selevko landed a solid quad toe, triple Axel and triple Lutz-triple toe in his short program to music by Egyptian Trap Mix. The 2023 CS Finlandia Trophy bronze medalist also picked up a level four on his steps and change combination spin. He earned a new personal best of 90.05 points for third place going into the free skate.

“I am so, so happy!” said the 22-year-old. “I wanted to do a good short program and I did. When I saw the number ’90’ I couldn’t believe it! I am still speechless. I still have to let it sink in. It’s great to be back at Europeans after some years. It’s a special energy that I really enjoy!”

The national silver medalist placed third in the free skate with another personal best of 166.94. The only error came when he doubled the first jump in a triple Axel-double toe combination. All other jumps were clean and included six triple jumps and a quad toe (+3.26 GOE). Two spins and the footwork were rewarded a level four, and the crowd erupted at the end of his heartfelt performance to “Ad Martem” by Havasi.

“I tried to do my best today,” said Selevko. “I did have a good skate, but not clean. My second triple Axel was not a success, but I’m really happy today. I didn’t think about a medal because for me it’s a crazy thing. But today I did it and it was super surprising for me. At the beginning of the season, I had set already the goal for me to do well at Europeans and I am very glad I did.”

The skater hadn’t yet processed his feelings on earning the first European medal for Estonia.

“I don’t know how I feel,” he said. “I don’t know what I did, but I’m really happy. It’s a big thing for me.”

Matteo Rizzo

Rizzo placed sixth (80.43) in the short program with his 2021-22 routine to “Two Men in Love” by The Irrepressibles. The two-time European silver medalist, popped his quad toe to a double, losing 10 points from the start. However, the triple Lutz-triple toe and triple Axel were solid, and all other elements were graded a level four.

“I obviously I had a big mistake,” said the 25-year-old, “but I am happy as I am not even supposed to be here. I am in the last group, and I can skate first. I am happy about that! Ten points is nothing. My goal is to win a medal here and I know I can still do it.”

“I am happy that the ‘new/old’ short is so well received,” he added. “My team also agreed to it right away. We wanted to keep the step sequence as we felt it was already a very good one. I will most likely keep this short program for another season.”

The two-time national champion gave an inspiring performance to “Fix You” by Coldplay, and despite a hip injury, showed focus throughout. He landed a quad toe and seven triple jumps. The only mistake was a fall on a triple Axel, but the footwork and two spins were graded a level four. He placed second (170.44) in the free skate and moved up to third place overall (250.87).

“What I did here was the maximum for me at this competition,” said the 2023 Skate Canada bronze medalist. “I knew the last Axel was probably going to make the difference of medal or no medal. At the end, I felt like dead, so I did the little movement to ask the people for help. With my performance I want everyone to have their own story or feelings on their mind. It is okay to feel something. It’s okay to sometimes even cry a little.”

Gabriele Frangipani

Italy’s Gabriele Frangipani had a very good start in his expressive short to “Keeping Me Alive,” opening with a quad toe-triple toe. He tripled the quad Salchow, which had a turn out, but landed a triple Axel. All other elements were awarded a level four and he picked up 83.51 for fourth place.

“Overall, I’m pleased,” said the national silver medalist. “I’m just a bit mad about the Salchow. I was going for the quad, but I felt in the air it is better to open. I prefer to do a clean triple over risking a fall and a downgrade or something like that. It was not an amazing triple for sure. The combination could have been better, but I had a doubt. I am always very nervous for the first jump. I was stressing myself and even if I look calm, I feel like I’m dying inside.”

The 2023 CS Nepela Memorial champion showed lots of character in his free skate to “Io Ci Saro.” He popped his opening quad toe to a triple, leaving about eight points on the table. The quad toe was good, and he also landed seven more triple jumps. However, the second Lutz received no value as he had two triple toes and triple Axels.

“I am feeling so stupid right now,” said the 22-year-old. “A repetition cost me the medal. I am usually so good with such things. Overall, I am very happy about what I showed today. I was so nervous as never before at any competition. It was because I knew I could win a medal. Fourth is an unlucky place at Europeans, but in case I would get fourth at Worlds, I would be over the moon happy. I am excited for my first worlds! I am happy for Matteo though, and I am also proud of our Italian team for securing the three spots for next Europeans!”

Lukas Britschgi

Switzerland’s Lukas Britschgi delivered a solid and entertaining routine to “I’m in the Mood” and “Superstition.” His routine included a quad toe-triple toe, triple Axel and triple Lutz. All three spins and footwork were graded a level four.

“I am happy to skate so well on such a big stage,” said the 25-year-old. “I am glad I could show what I could. My trainings are solid as well and that helped me build confidence. My body knows what to do. The pressure has been building up a bit, especially the expectations I have for myself.”

However, the 2023 European bronze medalist gave away too many points in his free skate. He took a fall on his opening quad toe, doubled the toe and stepped out of a triple Axel to finish 10th (151.29). With a total score of 242.46, he dropped off the podium to fifth place overall.

“There is not much to say,” lamented the four-time national champion. “Something like this had to happen at some point. Mistakes happen. But I will not look back now. It was a bit hard to keep the focus for so long skating last, but nerves weren’t really the problem. But you learn from mistakes.”

He is now looking forward to participating in Art on Ice.

Deniss Vasiljevs

Deniss Vasiljevs of Latvia underrotated and stepped out of his quad Salchow in the short program. He also underrotated the back end of a triple Lutz-triple toe, but the triple Axel was solid. The 2022 European bronze medalist was awarded a level four on all other elements and also had the second highest program component score. He was fifth going into the free skate with 82.34 points.

“I have very mixed emotions,” said Vailjevs. “It’s hard to digest. I worked so hard to be here at this event at my peak. I have no regrets, but I still feel I could have done better. I fully enjoyed performing here today but also, I am still waiting for this one moment when it all comes together. It is so special to me to perform here at the European Championships so close to my roots. I skated at this place when I was a small kid who had no idea he would ever be a professional athlete. Today I met my childhood coach Ingrid. It is really very special to me.”

The student of Stéphane Lambiel entertained with his free skate to “Blues Deluxe,” but the program was not without errors. He fell on his opening quad Salchow and then opted to try it again for a combination jump but it was underrotated. He later stepped out of a triple Lutz, but the footwork and spins were all graded a level four with positive GOES. He finished seventh (155.08) in the free skate and slipped to sixth overall (237.42).

“I am very feeling fulfilled and happy,” said the 24-year-old. “There was a great tension in the air tonight and I felt the support of the people. I will still remember tonight 50 years from now. I gave everything I could performance-wise. The jumps could have been better. Going for the second quad was pure ambition. I felt like going for it. When Stéph still hadn’t processed the first quad, I was already going for the second.”

Nika Egadze

Georgia’s Nika Egadze was 10th (77.00) going into the free skate. He battled through his free skate, stepping out of three quad jumps and putting a foot down on the backend of a triple Axel-Euler-triple Salchow. He finished sixth (156.16) in the free skate and moved up to seventh overall (233.16).

“I am very disappointed by my performance this week, but I am happy I fought,” said the 21-year-old. “It was the same in the short program. I was actually very well prepared, but all of a sudden, was very nervous. I am very good friends with Luka (Berulava) and he helped me stay calm. This is why he was in the Kiss and Cry with me. I am happy for them taking the silver at their first Europeans. Tomorrow I will cheer for our Georgian team again!”

Vladimir Samoilov

Vladimir Samoilov of Poland was 16th (71.05) in the short program after taking a fall on a quad Salchow. However, his dynamic free skate featured two clean quads and six triple jumps. The three-time national champion popped an attempted quad Lutz but was fairly clean for the rest of his routine to selections from Notre Dame de Paris. He scored two new personal bests for fifth place (159.12) in the free skate and eighth overall (230.17).

“Overall, I’m happy with my skate,” said the three-time national champion. “I really wanted to do a quad Lutz because I haven’t done it in a while on an international level. But for me today is a big victory to regroup myself and do the rest of the difficult elements after the popped first element. I would like to progress to two clean programs because I’ve been failing my short this season. But I skated my best free, so I’d like to strive for clean skating. I will try to show that at the Worlds.”

Georgii Reshtenko of the Czech Republic placed ninth overall (226.67) followed by Nikolaj Memola of Italy (226.67).

Kevin Aymoz of France struggled throughout his short program, placing 30th and not qualifying for the free skate.

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