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Khokhlova, Novitski win dance gold at Euros

Russian couple wins first gold at an ISU championship

Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski proudly show off their gold medals.
Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski proudly show off their gold medals. (Getty Images)

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By J. Barry Mittan, special to icenetwork.com
(01/24/2009) - Russia's Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski, the leaders going into the free dance, held their lead and won gold at the 2009 European Championships after finishing third last season.

The couple, who were also third at the 2008 World Championships, won the free dance with a season-best 97.31 points, giving them 196.91 points overall.

They danced to "Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini" by Sergei Rachmaninov and "Caprice 24" by Paganini.

"It is unreal," Khokhlova said. "We put out all our emotions out there on the ice. I think this gold medal is only the beginning of a long way, but it was a big step for us."

France's Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat placed second in the free dance with a season-high 92.90 points. They skated a lively, circus-themed dance to "La Notte di Favola," "La Marche des Gladiateurs" and "Jonglage."

Like countryman Yannick Ponsero the night before, their strong effort was only good enough for fourth place overall with 184.84 points. In both cases, the difference between being on the podium and off was less than half a point.

"We feel confident about our free dance, but we have a lot of work to do," Bourzat said.

Great Britain's Sinead Kerr and John Kerr earned a season-high 92.60 points with their free dance to "Ruled by Secrecy" by Muse to place third in the free dance and overall with 185.20 points.

"It is a very emotional moment," John Kerr said. "It is the first medal for Great Britain since [Jayne] Torvill and [Christopher] Dean."

"We knew it would be really difficult this year because there are so many teams so close together," Sinead Kerr said. "Pechalat and Bourzat beat us last year at Europeans and worlds, so to come above them here was great because they are great skaters too."

Italy's Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali, skating to Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata," placed fourth in the free dance with 91.11 points, another season high.

Their 186.17-point total score gave them the silver medal, their first at the European championships.

"We are excited that we are on the top, and we want to stay there," Scali said. "We were dreaming of a medal at Europeans and worlds and Olympics since we were 10 years old."

Fellow Italians Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte, who skated to music from the motion picture soundtrack Love Story, finished fifth with an 85.71-point free dance, also a season high.

"We really liked [Jamie] Salé and [David] Pelletier skating to Love Story in 2001," Cappellini said. "No one had skated to it for some years, so we thought it would not be too boring for people."

Their total of 172.67 points placed them fifth overall, a career-high finish for them at the European championships.

"We made no mistakes and skated with our hearts," Cappellini said. "We wanted to really feel, push and bend."

French dancers Pernelle Carron and Mathieu Jost, skating to "Butterflies and Hurricanes" by Muse, placed seventh in the free dance and dropped to sixth overall with 78.64 and 168.03 points, respectively.

Hungary's Nora Hoffmann and Maxim Zavozin withdrew due to Zavozin's illness. This is the second straight time at Europeans that one of Hoffmann's partners has had to withdraw before the free dance.