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July 17, 2024
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Loena Hendrickx takes gold from reigning champion Anastasiia Gubanova

Loena Hendrickx skated superbly to take the women’s singles title at the 2024 ISU European Figure Skating Championships in Kaunas, Lithuania on Saturday (13 January).

Holding a five-point lead from Thursday’s short program, the 2023 silver medallist had the crowd roaring their approval after her skate to ‘Break My Soul’ by Beyoncé and Madonna.

The two-time world medallist scored 138.59 for a winning total of 213.25, and she could not hold back the tears in her rinkside post-competition interview.

She said, “I’m just so happy. I worked so hard and now all the emotions come…

“It was really hard because I had a lot of nerves going into the free program. I had a lot of pressure but I tried to enjoy my performance and I think I never enjoyed a program as much as I did here so I’m very happy.”

The 24-year-old Belgian was the third-last skater to go and started with a fine triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination. Then came a double Axel and a triple flip followed by triple Lutz-double toeloop and triple flip-double toeloop combinations although there was a slight under-rotation on the flip.

A triple Salchow spelt the end of the jumping and, after a slight stumble on landing, Hendrickx was away again with her crowd-pleasing routine.

A broad grin followed a spectacular series of spins as she realised she had almost certainly done enough to claim her first European title in the Žalgiris Arena.

That left defending champion Anastasiia Gubanova and Nina Pinzarrone needing huge personal bests to even approach her target.

With close to six points to make up on Hendrickx, Gubanova was marked down on at least two of her jumps. And despite posting a higher elements score than the Belgian, she ended up just behind on 137.56 – a personal best free skate – for a total of 206.52 and second place.

Last to go was Pinzarrone who certainly rose to the occasion. Having set a personal best to be second in the short program, the 17-year-old from Brussels was just shy of her highest mark in the free skate having been hit with quarter calls on four of her jumps.

Pinzarrone’s score of 132.59 gave her third place on the day and third place overall with a total of 202.29.

That saw her displace Livia Kaiser from the podium after the Swiss enjoyed the competition of her life.

Fourth after the short program, Kaiser scored 128.41 in her free skate – eclipsing her previous best by almost 17 points – to take the lead with a career-best total of 194.72.

Her countrywoman, last year’s surprise bronze medallist Kimmy Repond, was below her best as she finished in seventh place. 

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