Even though a couple of potential Olympic gold medallists
will be missing due to injury, the competition will be one of the
highlights of the figure skating season. Reigning world champion
Evgeni Plushenko of Russia has withdrawn from the competition, as
he has been plagued by injury all season.
In his absence, compatriot Alexei Yagudin will be going for his
third European title. The three times world champion is on a
roll after defeating Plushenko at the Grand Prix of Figure Skating
final in December. Yagudin will be using this competition as a warm-up
before the Olympics, as he missed the Russian national championships
a couple of weeks ago because of a twisted ankle.
The other withdrawals are Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze
of Russia in the pair's event. The two-time world champions and
reigning Olympic silver medallists pulled out because Berezhnaya
is suffering from an ankle injury. With them out of the picture,
the title is up for grabs.
Irina Slutskaya of Russia will be aiming for her fifth European
ladies' title. Her main competition at this event will be former
world champion Maria Butyrskaya, also from Russia. Slutskaya is
gold medal favourite for next month's Winter Games along
with Michelle Kwan of the United States. Although the Muscovite
has only lost one event this year, her skating has been less than