Lepisto wins ladies title in Helsinki

Kostner wins free but finishes with silver medal

Gold medalist Laura Lepisto (middle) poses with the other medalists in Helsinki.
Gold medalist Laura Lepisto (middle) poses with the other medalists in Helsinki. (Getty Images)


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By J. Barry Mittan, special to
(01/24/2009) - Finland's Laura Lepistö, who won the bronze medal last year, won the ladies event at the 2009 European Championships, the first win in history for a Finnish lady at Europeans.

Lepistö, who led after the short program, was second in the free skate with a season-high 110.70 points. She had 167.32 points in total.

Skating to the motion picture soundtrack Don Juan Demarco, Lepistö skated a clean program, except for popping a planned triple Lutz.

She landed triple toe-double toe, triple loop-double toe, and triple Salchow-double toe combinations, plus a triple loop and two double Axels.

"This is an indescribable feeling," Lepistö said. "I could never have imagined this to happen. I had said that my goal is to medal, but that it would be gold, I can't realize it.

"This was one of the best days of my life, and I will probably, never, ever forget it."

Italy's Carolina Kostner, the defending European champion, won the free skate with a season-high 114.06 points.

Skating to "Dumky Trio" by Anton Dvorak, Kostner received no points for her combination spin, and that was the difference between silver and gold.

Kostner landed a triple Lutz-double toe-double loop, double Axel-double toe loop, and triple flip-double toe loop combinations, although the latter was planned as a triple-triple.

She also landed a double Axel, a triple Salchow and a triple loop, but she doubled a planned triple flip.

A of 165.42 points gave Kostner the silver medal.

"I am very pleased," Kostner said. "It's good to see that I'm improving [in her score].

"I'm happy for Laura that she could win in front of her home crowd," she added. "This must be an amazing feeling. Next year, the world championships are in my home town, so I hope I can do the same."

Finland's Susanna Pöykiö, who was second after the short, scored a season-high 100.25 points in the free skate to place third in the segment. With 156.31 points, she won the bronze medal, her second medal at the Europeans after winning a silver in 2005.

"I'm really pleased about winning the bronze medal, but I could have skated better," Pöykiö said. "I'm disappointed about doing only double Lutz-double toe combination and double flip."

Pöykiö had planned a triple Lutz-double toe and a triple flip. She also under-rotated a triple toe loop late in the program.

Pöykiö completed a triple flip-triple toe-triple loop and triple toe-double toe combinations, a triple Salchow and a double Axel.

She skated to "Scherzando" from "Cello Sonata in G Minor," "Melody on a Theme," and "Allegro Scherzando" from "Piano Concerto No. 2" by Sergei Rachmaninov.

Russia's Alena Leonova, who was 11th in the short, fought back to take fourth in the long and overall with 98.91 and 143.99 points, respectively, both personal bests.

She skated to "La Leyenda del Beso" by Raul di Blasio.

"I'm in shock," Leonova said. "This was my best performance so far."

Leonova landed triple flip-double toe and triple Salchow-double toe-double loop combinations, but she stepped out of the second jump on her triple toe-double Axel sequence.

She also landed a triple Lutz, a triple loop, a triple flip, and a double Axel.

Finland's Kiira Korpi, who won the bronze medal in 2007, skated to "Crooked Room" and "Passenger to Copenhagen" by Kerkko Koskinen. She slipped off her edge and slid hard into the boards a few seconds into her program as she accelerated around the turn. Although shaken up by the fall, she came back to score 91.41 points to place sixth in the free skate.

She rose from seventh after the short to finish fifth overall with 139.01 points.

"I guess this is figure skating drama at its best," Korpi stated, "or in my case, at its worst. I honestly can't say what happened. The rest of the program was a fight. I can't be disappointed after such a bad beginning."

After her re-start, Korpi popped her opening triple Lutz but came back to land a triple Salchow-double toe loop combination, a triple loop and a triple Salchow.

She under-rotated the opening triple loop in a planned triple loop-double toe-double toe combination and left out the other two jumps before finishing with a double Axel-double toe loop combination and a double Axel.

Russia's Katarina Gerboldt, who skated to Bizet's "Carmen," scored a personal-best 88.43 points but placed eighth in the free skate.

Fifth after the short, Gerboldt dropped to sixth overall with 137.05 points.

"It was hard to skate after the top skaters and all the noise for the Finns," said Gerboldt, who followed Lepistö and Pöykiö to the ice. "It's a little upsetting that I lost to Alena Leonova, but I was sick, and she could prepare better."

"The Russian girls fulfilled the goal to secure three spots [for next year], while the men didn't," she added. "It's too early to write off the Russian girls."

Both Russian girls were competing in their first European championships.

Germany's Annette Dytrt, skating to Camille Saint-Saens "The Swan," scored 92.92 points in the free skate, 15 points above her season best, to place fifth in the segment. She landed a triple Salchow-double toe loop and double Axel-double toe loop combination, a triple flip, a triple loop, a triple Salchow and a double Axel, but she doubled a planned triple toe loop.

She was only 12th after the short, but with 136.98 points, Dytrt was seventh overall, her best finish at Europeans.

"My goal was to make the top six," Dytrt said. "I couldn't do it after the short. But I'm happy."