by Klaus-Reinhold Kany
(26 Sep. 2020) Due to the Covid-19 virus, neither North American nor Russian or Asian skaters nor any judge from these countries were allowed to come to the 52th Nebelhorn Trophy 2020 in Oberstdorf, Germany. So it was a competition only between non-Russian European skaters.
The men’s event (17 skaters) had the highest level of the four categories. The winner (233.08 total points) is 21-year-old Deniss Vasiljevs from Latvia, fifth at Skate Canada 2019 and 19th at the Olympic Games of 2018. He trains in Stephane Lambiel’s school in Switzerland. He has always excelled by a crowd-pleasing style, but often had problems with the triple Axel and the quad jumps. In Oberstdorf, he began his short program to a tango medley by Astor Piazzola and Jerry Feet with a triple flip which was a bit shaky, a triple Axel which got a “q“ by the technical panel and a triple Lutz with a touch-down. Therefore he could not add any second jump. The new q means that the jump lacked exactly one quarter of a rotation, so it was nearly under-rotated. The three spins and the step sequence (level 3) were outstanding. His components had an average of 8.1.
In the free program to Prokoviev’s “Romeo and Juliet“, he moved up from fifth to first place. His first element was a very good quad Salchow. Two good triple Axels came next, followed by three other triples. His only mistake was a popped triple flip. Spins and steps were as excellent as usual and his components around 8.3. In the press conference, he said: “I imagined 19,000 people here in the rink, like in Japan, and tried to take the energy from the virtual people on the live stream. I trained the quad Salchow in the summer, but I did not expect to land it here. But after it worked in the warm-up, I was ready and willing to try it. But this is not my number one priority. I don’t like masks, but I respect the rules and think the competition was very well organized. I felt very safe here.“
The surprise winner of the silver medal with 231.65 points was Italian Gabriele Frangipani (18) from the school of Lorenzo Magri in the small town of Egna. He had been 13th at the European Championships this year and is a member of the Italian police which sponsor several Italian skaters. In the short program, he missed the quad toe loop, but the other six elements were at least good, the triple Axel and the step sequence (level 4) even very good. In the free, he landed a good quad toe loop and stepped out of the second one. Four triples were clean, but he stepped out of the second triple toe loop which came in combination, and fell on the last triple Lutz. Spins and steps were good. His French choreographer Benoit Richaud (who also has worked with Bradie Tennell regularly) had taught him unusual movements which the judges like. He said: “For me, walking around in the rink with a mask was not strange because in Italy we had very strict regulations to fight the virus after the many victims at the beginning of the pandemic.“
20-year-old bronze medalist Nikolaj Majorov from Sweden (218.07 points) is the nine year younger brother of Alexander Majorov who finished his career 18 months ago. Competing to “Writing on the Wall“ by Sam Smith, Nikolaj opened his short program with a very good combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop, followed by a step-out on the triple Axel and a triple flip which was nearly under-rotated. In the free he used Samurai-theme music pieces, among them the soundtrack of “Flying Tiger, Hidden Dragon“. He stepped out of the quad Salchow, but six triple jumps were clean and the flip a bit under-rotated.
Maurizio Zandron had switched from Italy to Austria two years ago because of the many good Italian skaters. He finished on fourth place, earning 217.65 points. His short program with four triples was almost clean, the Axel a bit shaky. Seven triples in the free were clean, the Salchow a bit wobbly. Matteo Rizzo of Bergamo in Italy, seventh at the Worlds Championships 2019, had been the favorite of this competition. But he finished only 5th with 214.14 points. In the short he did not try any quad. In his combination of triple Lutz and triple loop, the loop was under-rotated and the triple Axel a bit shaky. In the free, he stepped out of the under-rotated quad toe loop. Five triples were good, but he landed the second triple Axel on two feet.
German National Champion Paul Fentz won the short program with a very good quad toe loop, a good triple Axel and 81.86 points. But in the free, only four triples were good. He stepped out of the quad toe loop, fell on the second triple Axel and doubled two jumps which were planned triple. Alexandr Selevko (20) is the older of the two Estonian brothers and ended up on seventh place with 211.48 points. His brother Mihhail Selevko (18) finished ninth with 193.01 points. Lukas Britschgi was the best of the three Swiss skaters and took eighth place with 210.16 points. He landed a quad toe loop and six triples in the free program.