Berlin figure skating pair Hocke/Kunkel wins EM bronze

AAt the end, Annika Hocke and Robert Kunkel were only relieved. With a shaky freestyle, the German pair skating champions fought their way to the longed-for medal at the European Championships in Espoo, Finland – and it was made of bronze.

The Berliners training in Bergamo were not strong enough to claim second place after the short program. Hocke had to support the triple throw Rittberger with his hand, the planned triple toe loop only succeeded twice. After all: It was the first German EM medal in six years, the duo went to the award ceremony visibly relieved. In 2017, the later Olympic champions Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot won silver at the European Championships.

The European Championship debutants Alisa Efimowa (Oberstdorf) and Ruben Blommaert (Berlin) could not convince with their freestyle and slipped from third to fourth place with 173.66 points. The Italians Sara Conti/Niccolo Macii became the new European champions with 195.13 points ahead of their compatriots Rebecca Ghilardi/Filippo Ambrosini (186.26).

Russia, Europe’s number one in figure skating, as well as Belarus, were banned from the European Championship title fights because of the war of aggression against Ukraine. Russian couples had won gold, silver and bronze in 2022.

The seven-time German champion Nicole Schott meanwhile fell back to 16th place after a weak performance in the short program. The hope of a top five finish or even a medal was already shattered on Thursday. The 26-year-old from Essen fell both during the triple flip and the jump combination in the triple toe loop. “I’m shocked it went like this,” Schott said. “It was just bad. I had other goals here.” Anastasija Gubanova (Georgia) took the lead with 69.81 points ahead of World Championship runner-up Loena Hendrickx from Belgium. The fight for EM gold on Saturday is open.


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