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Joubert wins men's short program at Europeans

Defending champion Verner in second

France's Brian Joubert leads the men's field at the 2009 European Championships.
France's Brian Joubert leads the men's field at the 2009 European Championships. (Getty Images)

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By J. Barry Mittan, special to icenetwork.com
(01/21/2009) - France's Brian Joubert, who won the European men's title in 2004 and 2007, won the men's short program today at the 2009 European Championships in Helsinki, Finland.

Joubert landed his opening quadruple toe loop-triple toe loop combination, a triple Axel and a triple Lutz, while skating to Safri Duo's "Rise."

His 86.90 points, a season best, gave him a five point lead going into the free skate.

"I'm very pleased to have beaten my personal best," Joubert said. "I came here to win and I know that I can win a third European title."

Defending European men's champion Tomas Verner of the Czech Republic placed second with a season best of 81.45 points. He skated to Django Reinhardt's "Melodie en Crepuscule" and "Gypsy Swing".

Verner started with a triple toe loop-triple toe loop combination instead of his usual quadruple toe-triple toe. He then landed a triple Axel and triple Lutz.

"To start with a clean short program was the goal," he said. "At the Grand Prix Final, I started with mistakes and I had to avoid that today."

A surprise third place went to Italy's Samuel Contesti, who competed for France until 2006.

He scored a season best 75.95 points by completing a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination, a triple Axel and a triple loop in his program to "J'envoie valser" and "Valser des Montres."

"I'm happy," was the terse comment from Contesti, who prefers not to give interviews during competitions.

"He is someone who belongs here," said coach Peter Gruetter. "It was not possible in France, but he is very happy to be in Italy now."

Belgium's Kevin van der Perren, the bronze medallist at Europeans in 2007, took the fourth place after the short with 75.80 points, a season best.

Skating to "Night on Bald Mountain," he opened with a triple Axel, then landed a triple flip-triple toe loop combination and a triple loop.

"This morning I didn't know if I would compete," he said. "I had hip surgery in April and the hip is going on and off. I almost couldn't walk yesterday."

Alban Préaubert of France, who placed sixth at Europeans in 2006 and 2007, but fell to tenth last year, was in fifth place with a season best 73.50 points.

He landed a triple flip-triple toe loop combination, triple Axel and triple loop in his program to "Exit Music" by Brad Melhdau.

"My goal for the short program was to be close to the podium, even if I wasn't on the podium," Preaubert said. "I will try something more difficult in the free program."

Russia's Sergei Voronov, who was fourth at Europeans last season, had 71.29 points to place sixth.

Voronov, skating to the motion picture soundtrack from The Godfather, opened with a quadruple toe loop-double toe loop combination. He later landed his triple Axel but fell out of the landing of his triple loop.

"I wasn't totally under my feet, but overall the performance was OK for me," Voronov said.

Kristoffer Berntsson of Sweden placed seventh with a season best of 68.19 points, skating to "La Valse d'Amelie" and "Belleview Rendez-Vous."

Finland's Ari-Pekka Nurmenkari was the leader after the morning session of 19 men with a score of 66.64, good enough for tenth overall after the short.