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Plushenko wins men's title at Europeans

Lambiel second; Joubert third

Evgeni Plushenko won the gold medal at European Championships.
Evgeni Plushenko won the gold medal at European Championships. (Getty Images)

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By J. Barry Mittan, special to icenetwork.com
(01/21/2010) - Russia's Evgeni Plushenko won his sixth men's title at the European Championships with an impressive total of 255.39 points.

The Olympic champion won the free skate with 164.09 points, just under his personal best of 167.67.

"I'm very happy for myself that I'm still competitive after such a long break," Plushenko said. "Winning feels a thousand times nicer, as they are younger than I am. But apparently I can still benefit from my experience and can pull myself together when it counts."

Plushenko skated to "Tango Amore", a special violin composition by Edvin Marton.

Swiss skater Stéphane Lambiel, who stood in fifth place after the short program, scored 160.79 points to finish second in the free skate and win his third silver medal at Europeans with 238.54 total points.

He had the highest presentation score of 85.00 to Plushenko's 83.10 points, and missed his personal best free skate score by .11 of a point.

"I feel very confident with the silver medal and I want to win the gold in Vancouver," Lambiel said.

Lambiel, who skated a classical program to "La Traviata" by Guiseppe Verdi, had a total score of 238.54 points.

"It was good but it wasn't perfect," Lambiel said. "I put my hand down on the first quad and made a mistake on the triple Salchow at the very end. I also lost my edge [and fell] in the serpentine step sequence."

France's Brian Joubert, the defending European men's champion, who was second after the short program, won the bronze medal by scoring 147.90 points in the free skate and 236.45 points overall. The Frenchman turned out of the landing of his first quad toe, and popped his second attempt.

"I am disappointed," Joubert said. "Now, I don't know what to do. Maybe I'm still not ready for this program."

Joubert's marks for his free program to "Ancient Land" by Ronan Hardiman and "Discovery" by Maxime Rodriguez, were only .55 above his season best and more than 12 points below his personal best.

The Czech Republic's Michal Brezina, skating to George Gershwin's "An American in Paris," finished fifth in the free skate with 145.14 points, below his season best. With a total of 224.74, Brezina, who was fourth in the short, finished fourth overall, his best showing at Europeans.

"I was a bit nervous because I was skating in the last group with these big names like Plushenko and Joubert," Brezina said. "Now, I feel great. Yes, I made one big mistake at the end when I did a single Axel. I lost about eight points."

Italy's Samuel Contesti, who was second last year, could not move up to the podium after placing seventh in the short program. Contesti scored 145.43 points in the free skate to finish fourth in the free skate, but his total of 221.33 left him in fifth place overall.

Contesti, skating to Andean panpipe music, bettered his season's best by almost ten points.

"It was a great performance," Contesti said. "I'm very happy. I was fighting for the last three-jump combination because every point is important. One point can make a difference."

Yannick Ponsero, who was in third place after the short program, finished seventh in the free skate with 137.12 points, a season best but well off his personal best of 151.85. The Frenchman used a medley of songs including "Caravan" and "Sing, Sing, Sing" by Brian Setzer and "Summertime" and "Porgy and Bess" by Louis Armstrong.

Ponsero placed sixth overall with 219.52 points.

"Everyone was skating well tonight so it was hard for me physically and mentally to hold it together," Ponsero said. "I gave all my energy in the first minute and was tired afterwards."