Smart-Díaz and Hurtado-Jaliavin, the final duel

Sara Hurtado and Kirill Khaliavin, in a file image. EFE / EPA / Anatoly Maltsev

Madrid, Jan 11 (EFE) .- The Spanish dance couples formed by Olivia Smart and Adrián Díaz and Sara Hurtado and Kirill Jaliavin will compete in the European Figure Skating Championships in Tallinn, which are held from Wednesday to Saturday, with the incentive to know which of the two will be in the next winter Olympics in Beijing in February and the World Cups in March in the last duel to achieve it.
The dance duos lead the Spanish team that will participate between Wednesday and Saturday in the Europeos and that is completed by Tomás Guarino as a male individual and Laura Barquero and Marco Zandron -Italian by birth and recently nationalized Spanish- in pairs.
Smart-Díaz and Hurtado-Jaliavin settle the Spanish ticket for Beijing 2022 in Tallinn, with a certain advantage in favor of the former, who are ahead in scoring in previous selective competitions: the ISU Challenger Trophy in Finland and the Spanish Championships.
Hurtado and Khaliavin finished eleventh at the 2021 World Cups, but needed to have finished at least tenth for Spain to have a chance to clinch a second place in last September’s Olympic qualifying competition.
Four years ago the two Spanish couples found themselves in a similar situation: Hurtado and Khaliavin were the ones who got the place and later they obtained a creditable twelfth place in Pyeongchang.
The Royal Spanish Federation of Ice Sports decided for this Olympic season that the three competitions in which both teams participate would count towards qualifying for Beijing: the ISU Challenger Trophy in Finland in October, the Spanish Championships in December and these Europeans in Tallinn .
Smart and Diaz beat Hurtado and Khaliavin in Finland by just 0.25 points, but the Nationals clearly won by eight points and are currently leaders in the race to the next Olympics.
Additionally, at Skate Canada International earlier this season, Smart and Díaz claimed their first ever ISU Grand Prix medal by hanging bronze.
The competition begins on Friday with rhythmic dance and ends on Saturday with free dance. The Russians Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov, current European and world champions, lead the cast of contenders for the gold in Tallinn.
In the men’s individual, the 22-year-old from Barcelona, ​​Tomàs Guarino, who trains in Italy (Egna), will make his debut in absolute Europeans, to which he attends with a 210.36 as his best personal score, with 70.13 in the program short and 140.23 in free. All this achieved in October at the ISU Challenger Finland Trophy.
Guarino will start on Wednesday with the short program and his goal is to reach the free program (the final) on Friday.
In the absence of the current champion and runner-up, the Russians Dmitri Aliev and Artur Kvitelashvili, the favorites are the French Kevin Aymoz, the Italian Daniel Grassi and the Georgian Morisi Kvitelashvili -bronze in the 2020 Europeans-, the three who arrive in Tallinn with the best marks: 275.63, 269.00 and 266.33, respectively.
The Spanish presence in the Tallinn Europeans is completed in the couples mode with Laura Barquero and Marco Zendron, already qualified for Beijing 2022, where they will be the first Spanish couple in history in a winter Olympic Games.
Couples start on Wednesday with the short program and end on Thursday with the free one. Defending the title are Russians Aleksandra Boikova and Dimitrii Kozlovskii, who were also third in the last World Cups.
– Competition program:
. Wednesday, January 12:
10.25. Men short program
17.45. Short program couples.
– Thursday, January 13:
10.05. Short program women.
18.00. Free program (final) couples.
– Friday, January 14:
11.00. Rhythmic dance
17.00. Free program (final) men
– Saturday January 15:
12.35. Free dance (final)
17.30. Free program (final) women.

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