Slovakia’s Helena Kasicka and Peter Vidasic captured the eluded gold medal in a Latin dance and fittingly celebrated in front of a vocal home crowd at the 2016 IPC Wheelchair Dance Sport European Championships in Kosice on Sunday (30 October).
The Championships wrapped up with three medal events, with the home duo highlighting the Latin-flavoured night to add to the two gold medals they won on Saturday (29 October).
Kasicka and Vidasic took gold in the combi Latin class 1, an event they were runners-up in at the last four World Championships and in the last two European Championships. They received the judges’ top marks across the samba, rumba, paso doble and jive. Belarus’ reigning world champion Darya Kulsh and Aliaksandr Liakhovich out-performed the Slovakians in the cha cha but were second across the other four Latin styles to claim the silver medal. Their compatriots Hanna Siratsiuk and Ihar Kuliashou were awarded bronze.
“For us this is a special prize because eight years we have been trying to win the Latin,” said Vidasic.
Since the 2015 World Championships, he said they have made significant modifications to their approach.
“We started changing the routines, the choreography, we changed the dress totally. In ballroom we are strong and also in freestyle. Latin, if it is not coming now, it will never come.
“It is special because we won at home. We won three golds. It was not only our work, but it was the work of the Slovakian Paralympic Committee and the whole team that supported us.”
“The feelings are fantastic,” Kasicka said. “We had some new dances, new choreographies and sometimes I was out of my mind because it was so heavy and a lot of changes. We were always trying something new, and now it finally happened that we could win the title.”
Ukraine overall had the most success in the Championships, collecting 10 medals, two of which came on the final day.
Olena Dankevych and Ivan Zamiga wowed the judges in four of the five dances to win the combi Latin class 2, adding to Ukraine’s medal haul; it was Zamiga’s second European title after winning the men’s single class 1 and 2 combined on Friday (28 October). Poland’s Nadine Kinczel and Pawel Karpinski challenged the Ukrainian’s for the top prize but fell just short in certain elements to take silver. Katarzyna Bloch and Marek Zaborowski joined their Polish compatriots on the podium with the bronze.
The judges were treated with entertaining and creative performances in the women’s single freestyle class 1 and 2 combined. In a close call, Ukraine’s Olena Chynka had the edge in choreography and difficulty to win her third gold and fourth overall in Kosice. Austria’s world No. 1 Sanja Vukasinovic was awarded the silver. Poland’s Katarzyna Bloch took the bronze for her third medal of the Championships. It was another medal that came down to slim points, but Bloch’s difficulty distanced her from Belgium’s Sofie Cox.
Poland finished second in the standings with eight medals, two being gold. Host nation Slovakia and Belarus captured six medals apiece, three being gold for Slovakia and one gold for Belarus.