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German duo dance to win European figure skating title

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German duo dance to win European figure skating title
Photo: DPA
08:18 CET+01:00
Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany took the European Figure Skating pairs title for the third successive year in Helsinki on Wednesday.

The reigning world champions picked up 199.07 points dancing to the music from the Oscar-winning film “Schindler's List.”

In second came Russian duo Yuko Kawaguchi and Alexander Smirnov with 182.77 points with their compatriots, Maria Mukhortova and Maxim Trankov (182.07) in third.

Szolkowy, who along with Ukraine-born Savchenko has also won minor medals at the worlds and Europeans as well as being crowned national champions six times, said that their performance on Wednesday had been a marked improvement on Tuesday's short programme.

"We skated a lot better this evening than on Tuesday (when they lay second behind Mukhortova and Trankova)," said the 29-year-old.

"And even if we committed some small errors tonight, overall we are very proud of the free programme."

But while he was impressed by their performance, he admitted that the 6,000 or so spectators had left him and his partner cold.

"We asked ourselves whether they were asleep or in the least bit interested," he said.

While Smirnov and Kawaguchi had to be content with silver, Kawaguchi at east could lay claim to being the only skater to succeed in attempting and executing a quadruple Salchow during the rendition of "I Pagliacci."

"We are very happy with our result this evening, in spite of some minor mistakes, because we have moved up a place compared to last year," Kawaguchi said.

By contrast Mukhortova-Trankov slipped a place from last year, especially disappointing as they had led overnight, but a heavy fall by Mukhortova while attempting a triple Salchow ensured that there was to be no gold medal payday.

"I battled against all the elements and I hurt myself when I fell," she said.

In the afternoon session Frenchman and world silver medallist Brian Joubert had beaten his personal record in a short programme to take the lead in the men's competition in front of holder Tomas Verner of the Czech Republic and Italy's Samuel Contesti.

Joubert, who is on course for a third European title or at the very least an eighth medal, declared himself confident enough for Thursday's finale even if he is skating a new free programme in the form of the music from Hollywood blockbuster “Matrix.”

"I do not reflect the film in my programme, it is just the music that pleases me," said Joubert, whose efforts earlier in the season with music from another blockbuster “Last of the Mohicans” was not a success.

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