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Joubert wins men's title at European championships; French couple keeps lead in ice dancing

Joubert wins men's title at European championships; French couple keeps lead in ice dancing

Brian Joubert of France captured his second men's title at the European Figure Skating Championships on Thursday, capping a strong day for French skaters.
Starting the day in second place after a shaky short program, Joubert hit a quadruple toe loop to open his free skate to "The Unforgiven." He scaled back another planned quadruple salchow to a triple, and hit five more triples to push him far ahead of Tomas Verner of the Czech Republic.
Joubert scored 151.94 points on his free skate, for an overall score of 227.12. Verner, who started a point ahead of Joubert, was second with 212.69. Kevin Van Der Perren of Belgium was third with 204.85.
In ice dancing, Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder of France retained their lead after the original dance program.
Joubert, who was the clear favorite having won all of his competitions this season, reclaimed the title he won in 2004.
"I think it's nicer than the first one, because it was much harder to get it, even though the competition was weaker," Joubert said. "Mentally, it was hard. I think I never had so much stress during a competition. But now I know how to deal with it."
The 22-year-old Frenchman was third last year behind Evgeni Plushenko and Stephane Lambiel _ both missing this year.
Plushenko's absence, coupled with poor performances from Russia's male skaters, left Russia without a medal in the men's event for the first time since 1993.
Verner was unable to produce a free skate to match his clean short program. He put two hands to the ice on his opening quadruple toe loop, stumbled on his triple axel, and scaled back other jumps.
"It was nerves," Verner said. "The feeling to be first, the leader in such a great competition like Europeans is, that's a great pressure."
Verner added that the free skate draw, placing him directly after Joubert, also piled on expectations.
"Skating right after Brian wasn't so lucky for me," he said.
Still, Verner was obviously pleased with his silver medal. Waiting backstage for the final results, he shouted with joy and clenched his fists after learning he was guaranteed of a medal.
Earlier, Delobel and Schoenfelder skated a clean original dance to keep their lead ahead of Friday's free dance final.
The French couple scored 60.71 points for their tango, giving them a total of 100.28. Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin of Russia remained in second with 98.77, while Albena Denkova and Maxim Staviski of Bulgaria were next with 95.12.
With Delobel in a sleek black dress with silver trim and Schoenfelder in a gray pinstripe suit, the couple hit their steps and spins in a clean program to "Tango Volver."
"We didn't make any mistakes and we are very satisfied with our second program," Delobel said.
If they maintain their placing after Friday's free skate, the duo will win their first European title. The French national champions took bronze at the 2005 European championships, but missed out on the podium last year.
"Before coming here, we weren't certain if it would work out for us. We worked hard, but one doesn't always succeed," Schoenfelder said. "We are very happy because we've had a good competition from the start and we hope it continues."
World champions Denkova and Staviski have struggled.
Staviski said the couple discovered the rink at Torwar Arena was two meters smaller than an Olympic-sized rink only after arriving at the championships.
During the original dance, Denkova banged her skate against the wall at the end of the duo's step sequence.
"The size of the rink caused problems for us because our patterns in the original dance are big and we have trouble in the corners," Staviski said. "We didn't have time to fix it. Maybe it wasn't one of our best dances."
The women open their competition on Friday with the short program, while the ice dance finishes with the free dance.


Updated : 2021-05-14 18:11 GMT+08:00