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Savchenko and Szolkowy win European pairs, Verner leads men's skate

Savchenko and Szolkowy win European pairs, Verner leads men's skate

Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany became the first non-Russians in more than a decade to capture the pairs title at the European Figure Skating Championships on Wednesday.
Savchenko and Szolkowy earned 199.39 points overall. Maria Petrova and Alexei Tikhonov of Russia were second with 179.61, while Polish husband-and-wife team Dorota and Mariusz Siudek were third on 170.91.
The last non-Russian pair to win a European title was Mandy Woetzel and Ingo Steuer of Germany in 1995.
In the men's event, Tomas Verner of the Czech Republic won the short program, edging favorite Brian Joubert ahead of Thursday's free skate.
With Savchenko in white and Szolkowy in a black body suit, the pair hit their throw triple flip and throw triple salchow, and both nailed their individual jumps to music from "The Mission" soundtrack. Their faultless free skate earned 134.01 points, far ahead of Petrova and Tikhonov.
"It was hard, but it was fun. With each element we did, we started to smile more," Szolkowy said. "It was the best long program of the season for us. I'm very happy and it was so much fun to skate here."
Savchenko added: "I just wanted to do the same I can do in practice. I focused on each element, and my goal was to land every single one."
It is the first European title for them. Savchenko skated for Ukraine in the 2002 Olympics before teaming up with Szalkowy in 2003. She got her German citizenship last January, just in time to compete in the Turin Olympics.
Petrova and Tikhonov, who won the competition in 1999 and 2000 and plan to retire after this year's event, were unable to extend Russia's 11 straight European titles.
Tikhonov _ the oldest skater in the competition at 35 _ put his hand to the ice on a triple toe loop and was exhausted by the end of their program.
"We were almost dead. It was really hard tonight," he said.
Earlier, Verner completed a clean skate to score 76.56 points. Joubert stumbled on landing his combination jump and fell to second with 75.18. Sergei Davydov of Belarus was next with 70.14.
Wearing body-tight black pants and vest with a bright pink shirt, Verner landed his triple flip-triple toe loop combination to open his program to Bach's "Toccata and Fugue."
After his score was announced, Verner jumped and pumped his arms for the crowd.
"This was a huge surprise for me," he said. "I gave everything in this program. I wanted to entertain the people and the judges."
Joubert, who has won all of his competitions this season and is looking to reclaim the European title he won in 2004, was unhappy with his James Bond-themed program.
"I'm very disappointed about my performance," the Frenchman said. "I didn't do the combination jump. I did a big mistake and lost a lot of points, but the rest of the program was very clean."
Joubert put both hands on the ice after his quadruple toe loop and didn't complete the second part of the combination.
"The jump was good in the beginning, but I was not strong enough. I was too passive, that's why I made the error," Joubert said.
The competition is missing two of its stars from recent years.
Five-time European champion and Olympic gold medallist Evgeni Plushenko of Russia is pursuing other interests, while two-time world champion Stephane Lambiel of Switzerland dropped out last week citing a lack of motivation.
Plushenko's absence coupled with Wednesday's poor performances from Andrei Lutai and Sergei Dobrin could leave Russia without a medal for the first time since 1993. Lutai is in fifth place.
The original dance is on Thursday, followed by the men's free skate.


Updated : 2021-04-21 20:12 GMT+08:00