(Reuters) - Javier Fernandez proved he will be the man to beat at next year’s Winter Olympics when even an error-filled program could not stop him becoming the first man in more than 40 years to win five successive European figure skating titles on Saturday.
Despite crashing heavily on his right hip following a quadruple Salchow and putting a hand down on his loop, the two-times world champion still blew away the opposition in Ostrava to win the title with a combined total of 294.84 points.
That total allowed the 25-year-old Spaniard, who had carried a lead of almost 10 points into the free skate, to beat his nearest rival, Russia’s Maxim Kovtun, by a whopping 28.04 points.
Fellow Russian Mikhail Kolyada claimed the bronze with 250.18.
Fernandez became only the third man to join the ‘famous five’ club at the European championships. Austria’s Karl Schaefer achieved the feat in the 1930s while Czechoslovakia’s Ondrej Nepela won the last of his five titles in 1973.
However, Saturday’s performance will not go down as a classic and Fernandez summed up his feelings by grimacing at the end of his routine before shouting “ouch” as he skated off the ice.
There were definitely a lot of ‘ouch’ moments during his hip-swinging routine performed to the beats of ‘Fever’ and ‘Jailhouse Rock’.
The man who has built a reputation on soaring through a series of quadruple jumps over-rotated on a quad-Salchow in combination before smashing his hip into the ice on his next attempt.
The performance packed with 11 jumps lost its sparkle as a triple Axel and a loop also went awry.
If Kovtun, who was next on the ice, thought he could capitalize on Fernandez’s mistakes to snatch gold, his hopes were dashed when his program completely lost momentum after he missed a triple-triple combination just seconds into the free skate.
In other competitions, Russian teenager Evgenia Medvedeva won her second successive women’s title, while French ice dancers Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron edged out Italians Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte to complete a hat-trick of European wins.
Earlier in the week Germany’s Aliona Savchenko, who had won four European and five world titles with the now-retired Robin Szolkowy, had to settle for her second successive pairs silver with new partner Bruno Massot.
Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov earned Russia their sixth pairs gold in a row.
Reporting by Pritha Sarkar, editing by Clare Fallon