Belgium's Loena Hendrickx is among the stars featuring at the European Figure Skating Championships with the absence of Russia ©Getty Images

The European Figure Skating Championships is set to begin tomorrow in Espoo, Finland, without Russian or Belarusian athletes due to ongoing measures taken by the International Skating Union (ISU) in response to the war in Ukraine.

Russia have dominated recent editions of the European Championships, winning all four available gold medals at the last two editions in 2020 and 2022.

However, the ISU followed the recommendations of the International Olympic Committee in excluding its and Belarus' athletes from its competitions following the outbreak of the invasion of Ukraine last February.

The ISU insists this is to "protect the integrity of ice skating competitions and for the safety of all the participants."

The men's singles has been entered by 29 athletes, with several expected to be in contention for gold at the Espoo Metro Areena.

Last year's silver medallist Daniel Grassl of Italy and France's Adam Siao Him Fa have both won legs on this season's Grand Prix of Figure Skating, while Latvia's Deniss Vasiljevs won bronze in Tallinn last year.

World Championships silver medallist Loena Hendrickx of Belgium is the favourite for the women's singles title, with Georgia's Anastasia Gubanova a possible challenger.

Italy's Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini won an ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating pairs event in Espoo in November ©Getty Images
Italy's Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini won an ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating pairs event in Espoo in November ©Getty Images

In the pairs competition, Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini of Italy return to the Finnish city of Espoo where they won a Grand Prix in November.

Alisa Efimova and Ruben Blommaert of Germany won silver at that event, while Italy's Sara Conti and Niccolo Macii claimed a bronze at the Grand Prix Final last month.

Italy's Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri are expected to fare well in the ice dance after two bronze medals at the European Championships in 2019 and 2022.

Britain's Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson won two silver medals at this season's Grand Prix, while home hopes are likely to be led by Finland's Juulia Turkkila and Matthias Versluis.

Competition is due to begin tomorrow with the short programmes in the men's singles and the pairs, followed by the women's singles short programme and the pairs free skating on Thursday (January 26).

The rhythm dance and men's free skating are scheduled for Friday (January 27), followed by the women's free skating and the free dance on Saturday (January 28), with an exhibition gala due to conclude the event on Sunday (January 29).