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Laura Lepistö Makes History in Helsinki

The approximately 10,000 spectators in the Hartwall Arena in Helsinki, Finland celebrated the country's first European ladies figure skating title in history as Laura Lepistö captured the gold medal tonight.

Two-time and defending champion Carolina Kostner of Italy had to settle for the silver medal while Susanna Pöykiö completed a successful day for the host country with a bronze-medal finish.

It was also the first time that two Finnish ladies stood on the podium. All three medalists achieved season best scores.

"This feeling can’t be described," Laura Lepistö said. "I can’t even start to explain what is going through my mind now."

Lepistö, the overnight leader, earned 110.70 points (52.14 element score/58.56 program component score) for her long program. Her overall competition mark was 167.32 points. When she saw her long program score, the 20-year-old was clearly delighted. "I never expected this to happen," she said. "I had said my goal was to medal, but that it would [turn out to] be gold, I can’t realize it. The audience exploded [when I won], and I myself had this feeling too. Everything erupted at that moment, it was unbelievable.”

Lepistö opened her routine to “Don Juan de Marco” with a high double Axel and a solid triple toe-double toe combination. She popped the Lutz but roared back to land a triple loop, triple loop-double toe combination, a double Axel and triple Salchow-double toe. She also executed two level-four spins.

Kostner turned in a solid performance to “Dumky Trio” by Anton Dvorak. The Italian star won the free skating portion of the event with 114.06 points (53.50/60.56) and moved up from third to second place overall with 165.42 points. “Each athlete comes here to win, but I couldn’t do it this time," Kostner said.

Kostner's program featured a triple flip-double toe combination, a triple Lutz-double toe-double loop, a triple loop, Salchow and two double Axel. She doubled her second flip, a costly mistake as she lost her crown by less than two points.

The two-time European champion earned level threes and fours for her spins, steps and spirals, but one spin didn’t count as it was identified as a second change foot combination spin (instead of a change foot sit spin).

I’m happy for Laura that she could win in front of her home crowd," Kostner said. "This must be an amazing feeling. Next year the World Championships are in my hometown, so I hope I can do the same."

Pöykiö scored 100.25 points (45.37/54.88) and claimed the bronze with 156.31 points. “I’m really pleased about winning the bronze medal, but I could’ve skated better," she said. "I’m disappointed about doing only double Lutz -double toe loop combination and double flip.”

Pöykiö landed a triple flip-double toe-double loop combination, a triple Salchow, loop, triple toe-double toe as well as a double Axel. She doubled the Lutz and the second flip and one toe loop was not fully rotated. Her flying combination spin and the spiral earned a level four while the other two spins were a level three.

"Of course skating my seasonal best is good, and I can improve from that in my next competitions," Pöykiö said. "It wasn’t easy skating after her (Lepistö’s) great performance; I felt a little nervous. I tried to focus on my own things and not to pay attention to what was going on the ice, but of course I noticed some of it.”

Alena Leonova (RUS) hit six clean triples to move up from 11th to fourth (143.99 points). Kiira Korpi (FIN), overcame a painful fall and crash into the boards in the first seconds of her performance to place fifth (139.01 points).