The Ice Dance competition at European Championships this year is aa unpredictable as ever before.
The reigning champions Cappellini/Lanotte of Italy had all the potentials to dominate in the fall season. Something went wrong in their very first international competition at Cup of China where they had a disastrous free dance that had put them in third place overall. After that wake up call they decided to skip the rest of their grand prix season to work on adjusting their programs. They then attended Italian Nationals, that they easly won. However, it is always difficult to evaluate skaters from national appereances because, especially in ice dance where judgements are still highly discretional, the panel always seems to be quite generous. Besides, during these months many things have happened in ice dance that could have dramatically changed the rankings between skaters and it is difficult to say where Cappellini/Lanotte could be at this point.
Cappellini/Lanotte's free dance at Nationals
Papadakis/Cizeron have had a unseen improvement from last year, well represented by the increase of their scores. This young couple, superbly coached by the emerging team of Dubreuil and Lauzon, have started to collect success after success in the fall season. Even when they were juniors their talent showed off, but their exploit this season has been incredible. They have a chance to both win Europeans and establish themselves as world medal contenders.
Papadakis/Cizeron's free skate at Grand Prix Final
The 2014 bronze medalists Coomes/Buckland have showed an immense improvement in their first grand prix appereance at Cup of Russia where they were spot on technique wise. They were very close to qualify for their first grand prix final, but a disastrous free dance at NHK Trophy held them back from this achievement. Beside that event, they have been very strong and they have a great chance at Europeans.
Coomes/Buckland's free dance at Cup of Russia
To also have a shot for an European medal, Ilinykh/Zhiganshin have surprisingly been very competitive since the beginning of their partnership. When Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov split up last spring it seemed like the end of one of the most promising couple of the decade, who hadn't express its full potential yet. However, the new team formed by Elena and Ruslan Zhiganshin, unlike Sinitsina/Katsalapov, has showed competitiveness from their very first competition. They even qualified for grand prix final and won Russian nationals. As always it is difficult to foresee how they will be scored and how well they will do during Europeans, especially since the top contenders haven't had a chance to properly compete against each other earlier in the season. The new Russian champions may not be at the same level as Papadakis/Cizeron and probably as Cappellini/Lanotte, but they have all it takes to fight for a podium finish.
Ilinykh/Zhiganshin's short dance at Cup of Russia