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Kostner wins third gold in ladies at Europeans

Defending champions Lepisto takes second, Gedevanishvili third

Carolina Kostner was in top form at the 2010 European Championships, where she took the title.
Carolina Kostner was in top form at the 2010 European Championships, where she took the title. (Getty Images)

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By J. Barry Mittan, special to icenetwork.com
(01/23/2010) - Italy's Carolina Kostner, skating to Bach's "Air" and Vivaldi's "Cello Concerto," won her third European ladies title with 173.46 points by winning the free skate with a season best 107.66 points, well below her personal best of 120.40.

"Today, the free skating was a little nerve wrecking," Kostner said. "This competition felt like a liberation for me and I enjoyed skating. Sometimes you forget how difficult it is to skate for the audience and the media and in front of the judges. It was really good training for my head."

Kostner started strong with a triple flip-triple toe combination, triple Lutz and double Axel-double toe combination, but she popped a triple flip and fell on a triple loop.

Finland's Laura Lepistö, the defending ladies champion, moved up from third in the short to finish second overall with 166.37 points after placing third in the free skate with a season best 103.41. Lepisto, who now has a full set of medals from Europeans in the last three years, skated to "Adios Nonino" and "Fuga y Misterio" performed by Gary Burton.

"I had a good start with the triple-triple combination," Lepisto said, then I had a couple of doubles and errors. My main goal was to get a spot for the Olympic Games and I'm very happy about that."

Georgia's Elene Gedevanishvili, who was fourth after the short program, was second in the free skate with a personal best 103.72 points skating to Bizet's "Carmen." She won the bronze medal, her first at Europeans, with 164.54 points overall.

"Oh my God, this is totally unexpected," Gedevanishvili said. "It means a lot to me and I will carry this feeling to the Olympic Games."

Gedevanishvili had a nice triple toe-triple toe-double toe and two double Axel-double toe combinations, but doubled a triple Salchow and had a bad landing on her opening triple Lutz.

Gedevanishvili ejoyed her trip to Tallinn, noting that, "Before the short program, the Georgian president called me and we skated on the outdoor ice rink in the old town of Tallinn. He is a pretty good skater."

Finland's Kiira Korpi, who was second after the short program, only placed fifth in the free skate with 99.42 points. Skating to "Crooked Room" and "Passenger to Copenhagen" by Kerkko Koskinen, Korpi lost a point on a fall on a triple toe loop late in the program that cost her a medal.

With a total of 163.68 points, Korpi placed fourth overall, just .86 behind Gedevanishvili.

"The beginning was good, then I lost strength and I had to fight for the rest of the program," Korpi said. "I made progress from last year, but I still need to work on my free skating and I am very disappointed now. But I reached my main goal, to get the spot for the Olympics."

Switzerland's Sarah Meier, who skated to "Romeo and Juliet," jumped from eighth after the short to fourth in the free skate with 102.58 points and a total of 157.44 points, good for fifth overall.

"I am realistic," Meier said. "I knew I wasn't going to move up a lot skating in the second to last group, but I wanted to fight for my Olympic qualification. I needed 154 points and I got that."

Meier landed a triple Lutz-double toe-double loop to open her program and completed a double Axel-double toe combination but had negative 2.00 Grades of Execution on a triple flip, triple Lutz and triple Salchow-double toe combination.

Hungary's Julia Sebestyen, using a selection of music by Raul di Blasio, finished sixth in the free skate with 99.33 points. Her total of 156.77 points left Sebestyen in sixth place overall.

"The moment before the performance when I heard my name I thought, this is my last European Championship," said Sebestyen, who is retiring after the season and first competed at Europeans in 1995. "It's hard to think that it is almost the end."

Russia's Alena Leonova, skating to music from the motion picture soundtrack of Chicago, took seventh place in the free skate with 95.31 points. With 153.57 points, Leonova dropped from fifth after the short and finished seventh overall.

Italy's Valentina Marchei scored 94.12 points to place eighth in the free skate. Her total of 149.46 points put Marchei in eighth place overall. Marchei skated to selections from the motion picture soundtracks of 2046, Lord of the Rings and Requiem for a Dream.

"It wasn't good, but it wasn't a disaster," Marchei said. "I am happy beacuse I was fighting until the end."

Russia's Ksenia Makarova placed ninth in the free skate with a season best 92.79 points and ninth overall with a 146.85 total. She skated to the motion picture soundtrack 13th Warrior.

Estonia's Elena Glebova placed tenth in the free skate with 88.83 points skating to "Capriccio Espagnol" by Nikolai Rimski-Korsakov. She finished tenth overall with 138.93 points.

Finland's Susanna Pöykiö, last year's bronze medalist, withdrew from the free skate after placing 18th in the short program.