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Joubert looking good ahead of world championships

Joubert looking good ahead of world championships

Brian Joubert kept his perfect season rolling by winning the European figure skating title this week, establishing himself as a contender for the gold at the worlds in Tokyo.
While the 22-year-old Frenchman didn't have the big names of recent years to compete with in Warsaw, he still handled the pressure of being the overwhelming favorite entering the competition.
Evgeni Plushenko, the winner of five European titles, three world titles and the gold medal at the Turin Olympics, and two-time world champion Stephane Lambiel were both missing.
That left Joubert, who won the Trophee Bompard, the Cup of Russia and the Grand Prix Final this season, the clear front-runner at the championships.
He trailed after the short program, but rebounded to nail a quadruple toe loop and seven triples in a free skate that pushed him 15 points ahead of silver medallist Tomas Verner.
Joubert didn't need the second quad he had planned but scaled back to a triple. But competition will be stiffer in Tokyo, where he said he plans to do three quads.
"I have to do everything. I have to do it," Joubert said. "The world championships will be hard, but I want to give my best. I'm not the world champion so I don't have pressure for this competition."
Joubert looks set to challenge U.S. champion Evan Lysacek and the Japanese skaters at the March 19-25 worlds.
In the women's event, Carolina Kostner became the first Italian to win the title.
In her first competition since tearing a ligament in her left ankle in September, Kostner nailed a triple flip, triple toe, double loop combination to open her program and showed brilliant skate work in her program to "Memoirs of a Geisha."
She hit six triples in all to pass Sarah Meier of Switzerland for the gold.
In the pairs competition, Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy became the first non-Russians in 11 years to win the European title.
The German couple blew away the field with a flawless long program to "The Mission" soundtrack.
For reigning world ice dancing champions Albena Denkova and Maxim Staviski, the change of scene, and rink, will be a relief.
The couple had won all of their competitions this season, but struggled to adjust to the rink in Warsaw, which is two meters smaller than an Olympic rink.
The Bulgarians finished third behind Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder of France, and Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalain of Russia.
Despite the silvers in pairs and ice dancing, traditional powerhouse Russia struggled after gold medal sweeps in 2005 and 2006.
But all of those champions _ Irina Slutskaya, Plushenko, pairs Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin and ice dancers Tatiana Navka and Toman Kostomarov _ were missing this year.
Their absence, coupled with disappointing performances from Russia's solo skaters, left Russia without a medal in the men's or women's event for the first time since 1993.
But Joubert, who was routinely beaten by Plushenko in recent years, said not to worry.
"There are many young Russian skaters. They are learning and I think they will be dangerous and will be on the podium next year," Joubert said.


Updated : 2020-12-04 19:51 GMT+08:00