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Lepistö and Pöykiö Come up Big at Euros

To the delight of the home crowd, Finland’s Laura Lepistö and Susanna Pöykiö finished first and second, respectively, in the ladies short program at the 2009 European Figure Skating Championship Friday in Helsinki, Finland. Carolina Kostner of Italy came in third.

In ice dance, the medals were handed out with Russia’s Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski dancing off with the gold medal. Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali of Italy took the silver and Sinead Kerr and John Kerr (GBR) earned the bronze medal. It was the first ISU Championships medal for the Italians and the Scots.

THE LADIES

Skating to "Oceanic," Lepistö earned 56.62 points (30.30 element score/26.32 program component score). "I feel good and relieved," said Lepistö, the reigning European bronze medalist. "I was pretty nervous in the morning, but after the practice I got into my normal competition mood."

Lepistö landed a clean triple toe-triple toe combination, a triple loop and produced two level-four spins. Her biggest miscue came when she singled an intended double Axel.

"I am disappointed about the single Axel, it just slipped somehow," Lepistö said. "Nailing the triple-triple combination was amazing, with the audience cheering, I had to gather my thoughts after it. There’re still some things to improve.

"I feel good going [into] the free skate. I left out the biggest emotions today. Instead of single elements, the key thing is to stay focused. That’s been challenging for me this season. Now I’ll do a cool down, eat and try to sleep well."

Pöykiö, the 2005 European silver medalist, scored a season best of 56.06 points (29.30/26.76). She turned in a solid performance to "Leeloos’ Tune" by Maksim Mrvica. Her routine wss highlighted by a triple flip, triple Lutz-double toe combination and a double Axel. She lost points on her spins and spirals, which were graded a level one and two.

Kostner, the two-time and defending European champion, earned 51.36 points (24.40/27.96). She went down on the entry of the triple Lutz. When she attempted to take off for the jump, her blades collided. She nailed a triple flip-double toe loop combination, a double Axel and two level-three spins in her expressive Tango routine to "Mujer Sola" and "Canaro en Paris."

ICE DANCE

Khokhlova and Novitski skated last and put out a fast paced and technically demanding program to "Caprice 24" by Niccolo Paganini. "We haven’t quite understood yet what happened," Khokhlova said. "We haven’t skated last that often, usually we skate first, so it was an experience for us. It was hard to wait until all our main rivals had skated and more than 30 minutes had passed until we went out of the warm up area. I think we dealt with it well."

The duo earned 97.31 points (49.50 element score/47.81 program component score), which was a season best and compiled a total of 196.91 to take the gold and the team's first title. "It is still unreal," Khokhlova said. "We put out all our emotions out there on the ice. It was just amazing to perform today in front of this supportive audience. I think this gold medal is only the beginning of a long way, but it was a big step for us."

The Russians produced difficult lifts including a one-armed rotational lift and a straight line lift with changes of position and a dance spin. The combination spin and the circular steps were a level three.

Khokhlova and Novitski , the 2008 World and European bronze medalists, were awarded a level four for all but two elements.

Faiella and Scali scored a season best of 91.11 points (45.80/45.31) and were ranked fourth in the free dance but held on to second place at 186.17 points. When the skaters learned that they were on the podium, they hugged each other backstage for a long time and Faiella broke down in tears of happiness.

The duo performed a lyrical routine to "Moonlight Sonata" in the roles of Pierrot, the sad clown. The Italians completed a combination spin, a curve lift, straight line lift and twizzles that were graded a level four and also smooth footwork that earned a level three. Only their serpentine lift was graded a level two.

Kerr and Kerr were less than one point behind. The brother-and-sister team delivered an emotional dance to "Ruled by Secrecy" by Muse that was highlighted by a curve lift in a low position, a rotational lift and intricate steps. For their three lifts, spin and circular footwork, they earned all level fours. Their midline step sequence, the twizzles and the straight line lift were a level three.

Kerr and Kerr scored 92.60 points (46.90/45.70), which was a season best for them and accumulated 185.20 points overall. It was the first figure skating medal for Great Britain in 15 years. Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean were European champions in 1994.


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