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Pechalat, Bourzat win first European ice dance title

Korpi leads after short

Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat won the dance title in Bern.
Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat won the dance title in Bern. (Getty Images)

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By Klaus-Reinhold Kany, special to icenetwork.com
(01/28/2011) - Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat, who won silver behind Meryl Davis and Charlie White at the Grand Prix Final in December, won their first European medal -- gold -- with 167.40 points. They had been fourth the prior two years.

Performing to a medley of Charlie Chaplin tunes, the French champions gained Level 4s for all of their elements, except the two step sequences, which earned Level 3. Many judges awarded them +2's for grades of execution. Program components were 8.6 on the average and ranged up to 9.25.

"We have waited for a long time and are happy that we finally won a medal and even gold," Bourzat said. "We had a great performance today."

"We have to thank a lot of people around us," Pechalat added.

Silver went to Russian champions Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev (161.14 points) who, like the winners, train in Moscow. They skated to the romantic "Melody of the White Nights" and also got Level 4 for most of their elements.

"This silver medal is our first medal and a huge success for us," Soloviev said. "It is too early to think about the 2014 Olympic Games in our home country now, but as we saw in Vancouver, it helps to skate in your home country. So we are looking forward to Sochi."

Scottish siblings Sinead Kerr and John Kerr (157.49) won bronze with a free dance to music from their favorite British pop group "Muse." They made no major mistakes and also gained high levels for their elements.

The duo had long planned to finish their career after this season, but John said, "You never should say never, we will see." Sinead interrupted him and said, laughing: "No, no, stop talking. I can't compete any more next season. But we will definitely go to Worlds this year."

In fourth position are reigning junior world champions Elena Ilinych and Nikita Katsalapov of Russia, who are only 16 and 19 years old. They performed excellent elements and had the highest speed of all the couples.

Italians Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali moved from ninth after the short dance to fifth place overall. They were disappointed about not winning a medal and will probably not compete at Worlds.

"We are happy that one last time we fought for our dreams," Scali said.

Korpi wins ladies' short program

Kiira Korpi stands first after a flawless short program that earned 63.50 points. The photogenic Finn started with a strong triple toe-triple toe combination, followed by a good triple loop. She won mainly because of her excellent presentation and her elegant style to the popular standard "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

"It was quite a perfect performance, but I must admit that I was nervous," she said. "My goal here is to medal and today's performance was the first step."

Second is Russian Ksenia Makarova (60.35 points), who had trained in New Jersey until a few weeks ago, when she returned to her homeland, where she had lived until the age of eight. Her Flamenco program also featured a triple toe-triple toe and triple loop.

"Being fifth at Russian nationals somehow took the pressure off of me," Makarova said. "I felt very confident and strong on the ice."

Three skaters who placed higher than Makarova at the Russian Championships are too young to compete at ISU senior championships.

Switzerland's Sarah Meier skated to a Samba and is third with 58.56 points. Her combination was a triple Lutz with a double toe loop, followed by a triple Salchow out of steps.

"I feel very relieved," she said. "Now I have to stay calm and concentrated. This is the last competition of my career, my last chance to prove that I can skate."

Viktoria Helgesson of Sweden is fourth (54.70 points). Her combination was triple flip to double toe. Elene Gedevanishvili of Georgia (53.68 points), who trains with Robin Wagner in New Jersey, is fifth.

Grand Prix Final silver medalist Carolina Kostner of Italy is a disappointing sixth with 53.17 points because she fell on the second triple toe loop in her combination, as well as on her triple loop. More than ten points behind Korpi, she has very little chance to defend her European title.

"All my last practices have been so good," Kostner said. "But I was very nervous today. I hope I can see my highlight at worlds this year."