Dundee pairs team ‘super proud’ after last minute dash to European Championships

A new Scottish pairs skating team drafted in to the European Figure Skating Championships at the last minute said they were “super proud" of their performance, after narrowly missing out on qualification for the free skate final.

Dundee's Anastasia Vaipan-Law and Luke Digby perform during the pairs's short program of the European Figure Skating Championships.

Anastasia Vaipan-Law and Luke Digby, who train at Dundee Ice Arena, were drafted in on Saturday night as alternates after British Ice Skating’s original selection for the event, Zoe Jones and her partner Christopher Boyadji, were forced to pull out when Jones tested positive for Covid at the weekend. The pair, who both previously competed as solo skaters, teamed up to compete together for the first time this season.

They scored 51.11 in the short programme, their season’s best in an International Skating Union competition. They finished 18th, with only the top 16 out of 21 couples qualifying to progress to the free skate tomorrow.

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Leading the pairs competition is Russian couple Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov, with 82.36 points. Second and third place are also currently held by Russian pairs

Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov and Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Koslovski.

Digby told The Scotsman: “It’s been manic at times. We only found out at 7pm on Saturday that we were going to Europeans, so it was more stress to try to get the Covid tests and sort out flights. But we’ve been training strong, so we knew we’d be ready if we got the call and obviously at the moment, with the Covid situation, you have to be ready for anything.”

He added: "We’ve had such great fun and had such great experiences all season. Each competition, we’ve learned a lot and it’s been a pleasure to share the ice with such top skaters. We’re super proud of what we’ve done all season.”

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Despite missing out on the original selection for the championships due to a process which takes into account scores from both the current and last season, Vaipan-Law and Digby won the pairs competition at the British Figure Skating Championships in December, beating veterans Jones and Boyadji by 0.51 points.

Vaipan-Law said: "Especially with the situation there has been, we wanted to go out there and just enjoy ourselves. It’s our first time at Europeans and that in itself is just a great achievement. We knew it would be something completely different to what we’d been used to before. We’re just taking it all in and watching everything that’s happening and experiencing it all and having fun.”

Dundee skater Natasha McKay is due to compete in the women’s short programme tomorrow, while ice dancers Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson, from Prestwick, will skate their rhythm dance programme.

British skater Graham Newberry, from Romford, also narrowly missed out on qualifying for the final in the men’s competition with a score of 64.49, as did Dundee skater Conor Stakelum, who competed for Ireland.

Russian Andrei Mozalev, who was assigned to the European Championships just last week after teammate Mikhail Kolyada sustained an injury, leads the men’s competition with 99.76 points.

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