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International Tallinn Cup 2000
17-20 February



As usual this international ISU event will determine which Estonian skaters will represent Estonia at the World Championships. The skaters that took part in the European Championships will be at a slight disadvantage since the Tallinn Cup will take pace only 1 week after the Europeans, so they are bound to be tired. Still, I hope the best will win.

Right now there are skaters from the following countires on the roster of the competition: Estonia, Russia, Latvia, France, Finland, Italy, Ukraine, Sweden, Lithuania.

The list of competitors promises some good skating. From Men we have European and World competitor Margus Hernits who just recently ended up 13th on European Championships and is climbing up the ladder steadily and the Russian elegant and classical skater Alexei Fedoseev. From Ladies we have the much talked about new face Gwenaelle Juillien from France with the elegant Klara Bramfeldt from Sweden and the attacking Olga Stepanova from Russia. The Pairs event may seem empty but we have 2 great pairs from Russia who just aren't up the the level of Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze or other Russian top 3 pairs with our very own Shklover/Mintals who have done wonderfully in junior cirquit and are on their way to make a great breakthrough in the senior ranks.

With Italian ice dancing teams doing so well this season we have 2 of them here with the Russian 4th couple Ulanova/Pavlov whose free dance left me absolutely breathless at Russian Nationals. There will be some drama since Ulanova will compete against her old partner Mikhail Stifounin and we'll see who will come out as a winner.



Final Results



Ladies Men Pairs Ice Dancing
1. Klara Bramfeltd SWE
2. Asa Persson SWE
3. Olga Vassilyeva EST
4. Tiina Weckman FIN
5. Olga Stepanova RUS
6. Ekaterina Golovatenko EST
7. Gwenaelle Jullien FRA
8. Liina-Grete Lilender EST
9. Yulia Selepen LTU
1. Margus Hernits EST
2. Frederic Dambier FRA
3. Alexei Fedoseev RUS
4. Syltan Kokoev RUS
5. Roman Martynenko EST
6. Tero Hamalainen 7. Joni Juvonen FIN
1. Viktoria Shliakhova/Grigori Petrovski RUS
2. Viktoria Maksuta/Vitali Dubina RUS
3. Viktoria Shklover/Valdis Mintals EST
4. Tatyana Zaharyeva/Yuri Salmanov LAT
1. Magali Saury/Mikhail Stifounin FRA
2. Nina Ulanova/Alexander Pavlov RUS
3. Elisa Angeli/Moreno LaFiosca ITA
4. Marta Paoletti/Alessandro Tormena ITA
5. Daria Manoylo/Vasyl Baranov UKR
6. Anna Mosenkova/Sergei Sychov EST

The real competition starts on 19th of February, 2000 at 2 PM with the opening of the competition, followed by compulsory dances and then Ladies short programme.

My reports from the front line


18th of February 2000


Some teams had arrived by the time I was at the rink. I saw the end of the ice dancing practice and all of ladies practice.

I must say the dancers left me impressed. One Italian lady looked just like the girl from the 2nd Italian team at Euros. Ulanova/Pavlov still have the same very difficult free dance to Chopin but I am afraid it's a bit too much for them to handle. There's some scrapy noise and awkward situations, even though I admire her skating a lot. I assume she is very young yet, so they are probably the future of Russian dance. Italians were fast and impressive. Actually one of the Italian guys looks very much like the first Polish Men's skater (if you have seen him).

I had to sit through the ladies since I was taping one of my friends' practice at her request. I did manage to catch all the ladies still. All in all it's a pretty good level with some 3 Lutzes attempted and landed but some of the ladies must have had a bad case of nerves today. Honorary mention goes to the Lithuanian girl who just wasn't able to land anything. I am sure she has at least all her doubles, so it must have been nerves. The Russian girl Stepanova turned up like she had just gotten out of bed wearing a T-shirt and black leggings with the kind of hairdo I wear when I know I am not going to meet anyone nor leaving my house. But her face said - I own this place! I wasn't impressed with her jumps but that's most likely since she did not really try anything special. She was mostly just doing footwork and spirals and getting the feel of Estonian ice :)

I liked both of the Swedish girls. Alsa is so very fresh and has this smile on her face all the time. She is struggling with her 3 Loop but it's more of a mental thing. When her coach gave her some advice she landed all the Loops great and then on her own she fell. But her jumps looked nice and she is attempting the 3 Lutz - I don't recall any clean ones though. Klara looks as one of the most mature. She is really hoping to do very well here and it shows. She works harder than anyone else and she is pretty consistent with everything she does. Maybe the 3 Lutz is a bit inconsistent but we'll see tomorrow.



18th of February 2000



The opening ceremony was the best I have seen on an Estonian competition. We had little ice dancers doing a group number and then some girls skating around with the flags of all the participating countries. It was pretty beautiful.

Since I did not take any notes I am going to try to put down my brightest memories. I very much liked Klara Bramfeldt. Her program was very feminine and she executed it pretty well. I am sure she did some small mistakes but they did not take anything away from the program.

Tiina Weckman is a young and tall girl with Bambie eyes. She executed her program with a smile throughout and even though she is so tall she has some really tough elements like the 3 Lutz. She did not do it clean though. Her music was some sort of jungle music. Gwenaelle Jullien was definitely not on tonight. She messed up a lot of her elements - fell on the 3 Lutz and therefore put the jump combination after the second jump.

The Estonian girls all messed up some of their elements. I must say though that Liina-Grete Lilender had technically better skate than Golovatenko but her second mark was so low that she must have moved down some points. I assume technically she'd be around 5th and last by the second mark, so she ended up 8th overall. She really has to work on her artistry and presentation.

Our Margus Hernits had quite a wonderful night. He did a 3 Axel/2 Toe combination (intended 3/3) and had a small mistake in the ending spin but eventually it game out well enough for the 1st place finish tonight. The french guy Dambier struggled badly with the 3 Axel but then pulled off one right in front of the judges. I, personally loved Alexei Fedoseev for his elegant long lines and classical style (well, his appearance did not hurt a bit) but he stepped out of the combination and something else too, so he ended up 3rd. The rest of the skates weren't that good.

The pairs event was good for Estonians. I must say I am not impressed by the Latvian pair one bit and it's not because of her. She is ready to work hard and you can see she is trying the best she can but he has a bad attitude. I saw them warming up and he practically refused to do anything the coach told him to do. If I was the girl I would not trust myself with him. Too bad for her. What is it with Lativan pair guys??? Remember Shliakhov???

Ice dancing might have been one of the top events tonight. The top 3 pairs would well qualify for Euros and World finals. The original dance dress on Magali Saury was very beautiful even if there was maybe a bit too much illusion fabric. It was white and had a ribbed skirt and really made her body more flattering. On the other hand I had very difficult time trying to figure out how Nina Ulanova has gotten her skates pearly-glittery. It doesn't look like there is any bootcovers there yet to boots are so different from the rest of the boots I have seen. I intend to find that out tomorrow - maybe I will have to sit near the Kiss&Cry and then I'll see from really close while she is not moving...



20th of February 2000



The first quad was officialy landed in Tallinn Ice rink! Frederic Dambier did it! The quad Salchow and a very pretty one too. Too bad he messed up some other things and got only silver (even though some stories go Margus was held up). I could see Margus was really tired though, just as Olga Vassilyeva and our pairs team.

I liked most the Russian guy Alexei Fedoseev. He has very elegant long lines and his gliding is amazing. Even if he falls it does not take away from his skating. I threw him a little toy on the ice (I was the only one to do it) and he said Thanks to me, so I was pretty happy ... since he looks kind of good too. Hopefully he'll be back next year.

The pairs event seemed a bit worn out. All the skaters seemed to be tired and that's actually how Shliakhova/Petrovski ever managed to get the gold medal. I figure at least Maksuta/Dubina are technically more advanced. End of season is not working well for any of these pairs. I hope our pair will get some rest and do well at Worlds though.

I still love Ulanova's and Pavlov's free dance. Chopin is wonderful and if they were just a tad better skaters they'd win Worlds with it (at least with the second mark). They moved up too with it. The mystery of Ulanova's skates was resolved as one of the senior skaters told me she has painted her boots that pearly color and added some sparkle to them. So, no bootovers. Looks like all sorts of bootcovers are losing their popularity fast. Most of the skaters were in bare skates and only one pair had white bootcovers on the girl and then a couple of skaters had tights which cover the boots. And I must say - if the skater has not so skinny thighs and short legs too - the bootcovers make the legs even shorter and thicker, so there is no use. A good example of that was Gwenaelle Jullien. I had read so much about her and she left me totally cold. As did the Russian girl. There was no sparkle in their programs. The Lithuanian girl at least had very soft arms, even if she had no real jumps and I felt sorry for her for that. You could see she was trying to do her best. Very bad though that we saw absolutely no clean free skates (maybe in dance we did but here I am not that good of a judge). But it was a fun competition and I absolutely adored the exhibitions. Our youngest ice dancers performed (she does not yet go to school, so she is under 7 and he might be a year or two older than her and they were absolutely adorable. It was a latin kind of dance and they were enjoying it big time and even all the competitors gave them a big applause. I need to get a photo of them, it's so cute!!!


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