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Plushenko wins men's short program at Europeans

Defending champion Joubert sits second

Evgeni Plushenko landed an impressive quad toe-triple toe combination at Europeans.
Evgeni Plushenko landed an impressive quad toe-triple toe combination at Europeans. (Getty Images)

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By J. Barry Mittan, special to icenetwork.com
(01/20/2010) - The top four men all scored personal bests in the short program at the European Figure Skating Championships with Russia's Evgeni Plushenko coming out on top.

Plushenko, the 2006 Olympic champion who has won five European golds, scored 91.30 points while skating to "Concierto de Aranjuez" by Joaquin Rodrigo. He landed a quadruple toe loop-triple toe loop combination, followed by a triple Axel and triple Lutz.

"Everything went well except for a little wobble on the combination spin that was kind of unexpected," Plushenko said. "I did the quad-triple and that was really important. The jumps are, after all, the most important thing in men's figure skating."

The 2009 European men's champion, France's Brian Joubert, stood in second place with 88.55 points for his program to "Rise" by Safri Duo.

Joubert, who is hoping to add to his total of three gold medals at Europeans, landed a quad toe-double toe combination, triple Axel and triple Lutz.

"It wasn't easy for me to skate last, especially after the kind of performance that Evgeny Plushenko had," Joubert said. "I'm a little disappointed because I did a quad-double combination instead of a quad-triple."

France's Yannick Ponsero, the fourth-place finisher at last year's European Championships, was third after the short program with 82.40 points.

Ponsero, skating to "La Corrida" and "Diem," completed a quad toe-double toe combination, triple Axel and triple Salchow.

"I am very satisfied about my performance, that's for sure," Ponsero said. "Even more that it's my season's best performance."

Czech skater Michal Brezina, skating to Irving Berlin's "Puttin' On the Ritz," scored 79.60 points to place fourth. He landed a triple Axel, triple Lutz, and triple flip-triple toe combination.

"The performance went really well," Brezina said. "Only one small mistake on the triple Axel. I did not land in the center, but it did work out well."

Switzerland's Stéphane Lambiel, the 2006 Olympic silver medalist, had a total of 77.75 points, well below his personal best, to place fifth. He completed a double Axel and triple flip, but stepped out of the landing of his quad toe loop and failed to complete the second jump in the combination.

Lambiel, who won the European silver medal in 2006 and 2008, skated to "William Tell" by Giacomo Rossini.

"It was not a good performance for me," Lambiel said. "I made a big mistake on my combination jump, but I am very happy to compete here."

Alban Préaubert, who was fifth last year, earned a personal best 76.37 points skating to "Orange Mecanique" by Maxime Rodriguez. Preaubert is in sixth place after the short.

The Frenchman landed a triple flip-triple toe combination, triple Axel and triple loop.

"I am satisfied with my performance," Preaubert said. "I would prefer to have done better."

Italian Samuel Contesti, who placed second at the 2009 European Championships, was in seventh place with 75.90 points, a season best. Contesti skated to "Wish Me Well" by Willi Dixon and Memphis Slim and "Whammer Jammer" by the J. Geils Band.

Contesti completed a triple Lutz-triple toe combination, triple Axel and triple flip.

The Czech Republic's Tomas Verner, who won Europeans in 2008, was in eighth place after the short with 72.75 points, almost ten points below his best score.

Verner, skating to music from the motion picture soundtrack Zorba the Greek, landed a triple Axel but stepped out of an under-rotated quad toe loop in his opening quad toe-triple toe combination and had to add a double toe loop to a triple Lutz later in the program to complete a combination.

Germany's Stefan Lindemann finished ninth with a personal best 70.19 points after starting in the early group.

"It was a fantastic feeling to be here again," Lindemann said. "It has been three years since I competed at Europeans."