Kaunas, Lithuania set the stage for the 2024 European Figure Skating Championships. Hosted by the ISU, the competition was set to be one of the most exciting for British talent in recent years. With a silver ice dance medal and a top 10 finish in pairs from last season's Europeans this one would prove hard to beat.
Opening the competition was the Pairs short where Britain had two pairs entered. Anastasia Vaipan-Law & Luke Digby as well as Lydia Smart & Harry Mattick. Both qualified with ease for the free with some brilliant elements and well-choreographed performances. Then it was the turn of Edward Appleby, skating in the Men’s Short Program at his first international senior championship. His disco inspired performance got the crowd going and was extremely entertaining however he was unlucky on some key elements and narrowly missed out on qualification for the free program with a score of 63.39.
The next day was opened by the Women’s short which was an extremely tight field and Nina Povey’s first major championships. Nina skated herself well into the free skate qualifiers for the free with a personal best score of 54.78.
Nina commented “I’m absolutely thrilled to have skated a clean short program today. I can finally say I’m a Europeans competitor! It feels incredible to be here and I’m enjoying every minute. Qualifying to the free skate was definitely the goal today, and I’m so pleased to have done that!”
Rounding off day 2 was the hotly contested Pairs Free and with two British pairs teams it was set to be a nail-biter. Up first was Lydia Smart & Harry Mattick who had a powerful triple loop throw in their program. They received a score of 88.86, a personal best which made their overall score of 140.46. Up next was Anastasia Vaipan-Law & Luke Digby who skated a free program choreographed by the world famous Christopher Dean. They scored 102.22 taking their overall score to 159.01 and a 9th place finish.
Anastasia Vaipan-Law & Luke Digby commented “We are very pleased to have secured 9th place. This is an improvement upon last year in a more competitive event. There are areas we need to improve on, but we are proud of ourselves this week. We look forward to continuing our hard work to progress even further. The crowd was large and very energetic which we loved. It was great fun competing here in Kaunas. We also appreciate all the support from back home.”
The penultimate day saw the start of the Rhythm Dance where Lilah Fear & Lewis Gibson were set to compete for a podium spot. Impressing the judges with their Annie Lennox mash-up they skated to a season's best score of 85.20 and were in Silver Medal position at the end of the day.
James Hernandez & Phebe Bekker debuting at their first senior International championships placed 17th overall with a score of 154.75. Layla Karnes & Liam Carr also debuting at their first major championships placed 28th overall and missed out on qualifying for the free dance.
James Hernandez & Phebe Bekker said “We had an eye-opening experience this week in Kaunas at our first European Championships. We loved performing in an electric arena in front of thousands of fans, it was such an awesome experience that we'll never forget. We can't wait to compete again on this stage!”
The competition was set to finish off with a bang with an Ice Dance medal up for grabs and a debut free skate for Nina Povey. Up first was Nina Povey who showed a beautiful determination and fight in her program landing her a 17th place overall finish with a combined score of 154.05. Then came the final showdown of the competition with the Ice Dance free. Lilah Fear & Lewis Gibson wowed the judges with their Rocky inspired performance and scored 125.62 taking their total score to a huge Silver Medal winning 210.82!
Lilah Fear & Lewis Gibson said “The European championships this year were an absolute joy. It was so much fun to compete here in Kaunas with one of the most electric and encouraging crowds that we have ever experienced. We learned and grew so much over this week, and are bringing forward so much confidence, excitement and determination as we prepare for the World Championships in Montreal.”
Lithuania definitely know how to host a major championships and the crowd were a huge part of the success and enjoyment for our British athletes who returned home with the best results in recent years in a European Championship. Up next is Worlds where our athletes are representing what Britain can do on a world stage.