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Kostner wins ladies short program at Europeans

Finns Korpi, Lepisto next highest

Carolina Kostner leads the ladies at the European Championships.
Carolina Kostner leads the ladies at the European Championships. (Getty Images)

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By J. Barry Mittan, special to icenetwork.com
(01/22/2010) - Italy's Carolina Kostner, who has been on the podium at the last four European Championships including two wins, won the ladies short program with a season's best 65.80 points.

*I enjoyed skating here," Kostner said. "If I can share my skating with so many people, I'm happy."

Kostner, skating to Frederic Chopin's "Nocturne No. 20" and Tchaikovsky's "Violin Concerto," landed a triple flip-double toe loop combination, triple Lutz and double Axel, all with positive Grades of Execution (GOEs).

"It was a challenge for me personally to do the Lutz instead of the toe loop," Kostner said.

Finland's Kiira Korpi, who won the bronze medal at Europeans in 2007, scored 64.26 points in her short program to "Caravan" by Ikuko Kawai, putting her in second place. Korpi has never finished worse than sixth at Europeans. The score exceeded her personal best by more than three points.

She opened with a triple Lutz-double toe combination and also landed a triple loop and double Axel, while getting positive GOEs on every element.

"I'm really satisfied with my performance," Korpi said. "I don't think I could have done any better. We have only two spots for the Olympics but three ladies to fight for it so there is a lot of pressure on me."

Defending European champion Laura Lepistö of Finland, skating to "Imagined Oceans" by Karl Jenkins, placed third in the short program with 62.96 points. Lepisto was the bronze medalist in 2008.

"I stumbled in the step sequence, but it didn't affect me a lot," Lepisto said. "I continued pretty well as I felt very good and confident."

She landed a triple toe-triple toe combination, triple loop and double Axel, but only the double Axel had a positive GOE.

Georgia's Elene Gedevanishvili, who has finished between fifth and 25th at Europeans in the last four years, placed fourth in the short program with 60.82 points while skating to "Fever" by Davenport. Although she doubled the second jump in a planned triple toe-triple toe combination, she was still a half a point higher than her previous best score.

"I did a season's best so I'm really happy," Gedevanishvili said. "I won my Junior Grand Prix here so it is a really lucky place."

Russia's Alena Leonova, the fourth-place lady at Europeans in 2009, was in fifth place after the short program with 58.26 points, over three points below her season best after falling on the second jump in her triple toe-triple toe combination. Leonova skated to "Barynia," a Russian folk song.

"It is bad that I fell, but everything is decided tomorrow," Leonova said.

Hungary's Julia Sebestyen, who won the European ladies title in 2004, earned 57.44 points in her short program to place sixth. Sebestyen, who has competed at Europeans in every year except two since 1995, used "Song from a Secret Garden" by Secret Garden and "Libertango" by Astor Piazzolla performed by Bond for her music.

She landed a triple Lutz-double toe combination, triple flip and double Axel, but got a deduction for a wrong edge takeoff on the flip.

"I'm very happy," Sebestyen said. "It was my dream to skate a good short program at Europeans. It is not usual to compete this long and it is hard to be always on top."

Italian champion Valentina Marchei, who was sixth at Europeans in 2008 but missed last season, placed seventh after the short with a personal best score of 55.34 points. Switzerland's Sarah Meier, who had won two consecutive silver medals at Europeans in 2007 and 2008 before missing last year's competition with an injury, earned 54.86 points in the short to place eighth.

Ksenia Makarova, the new Russian national champion, placed ninth after the short program with 54.06 points, below her season's best after doubling a planned triple flip. Turkey's Tugba Karademir rounded out the top ten with a personal best score of 53.88 points while skating to "Bazaar Istanbul."