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European tour: National championships roundup

Verner, Fernandez, Contesti win men's titles; Korpi, Viktoria Helgesson take ladies crowns

Tomas Verner of the Czech Republic won his eighth national title last week.
Tomas Verner of the Czech Republic won his eighth national title last week. (Getty Images)

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By icenetwork.com
(12/19/2011) - Several European countries held their national championships last week, and while there may not have been many surprises on the medal stands, there were a lot of standout performances.

Italy

The ladies competition lost much of its luster when Grand Prix Final champion Carolina Kostner withdrew, citing a need to rest. In her stead, Valentina Marchei took the title for the fourth time, downing Francesca Rio by 10 points.

Samuel Contesti actually found himself trailing Paolo Bacchini after the short program, 69.01 to 68.98, but he came back with a vengeance in the free skate, winning that segment by more then 40 points. This is the fifth time in a row Contesti has captured his country's national championship.

With only one other team in the field, pairs team Stefania Berton and Ondrej Hotarek cruised to their second consecutive Italian title. Dance team Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte had a similarly easy time in their competition, downing silver medalists Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri by 31 points. (Somewhat surprisingly, it is the duo's first national title, although they did have Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali standing in their way for a number of years.)

Czech Republic, Poland and Slovakia

The men's competition in the Czech Republic mirrored that of France, where a member of the old guard (Brian Joubert) met a young upstart (Florent Amodio). And just as in Dammarie-lès-Lys, the veteran prevailed.

Tomas Verner trailed Grand Prix Final qualifier Michal Brezina by a little less than two points heading into the free skate, but he won that portion of the competition convincingly, 156.32 to 135.45, to top the national podium for the eighth time. Brezina settled for silver for the third time in the last five years.

Finland

Kiira Korpi's third Finnish title was never in doubt as she took a six-point lead in the short program and won the free by almost 20 points. Despite the runaway victory, her performance left a lot to be desired as she fell on the second part of her planned triple toe-triple toe combination in the short and landed only two clean triples in her free skate.

Spain

A year after being surprised at his country's national championships by Javier Raya, recently crowned Grand Prix Final bronze medalist Javier Fernández of Spain was not challenged in Jaca, earning the title -- his second -- by more than 80 points over silver medalist Felipe Montoya. (Raya withdrew from the event because of illness.)

On the ladies side, Sonia Lafuente eased to her third Spanish championship.

Sweden

After three straight podium finishes -- but none that saw him win gold -- Alexander Majorov triumphed for the first time at the Swedish championships. In the Battle of the Helgessons, Viktoria got the best of Joshi, 164.10 to 148.43, to grab her sixth straight national title.