Papadakis and Cizeron lead ice dance at European champs
MINSK, Belarus (AP) — Sofia Samodurova stormed past fellow Russian and Olympic champion Alina Zagitova to win the European figure skating title on Friday.
Samodurova’s clean free skate included seven triple jumps and scored a personal best 140.96 for a total of 213.84, 15.50 points ahead of Zagitova in the duel of the two 16-year-olds.
Zagitova, who led after the short program, fell on a triple toe loop and put her hand down on a triple lutz. She was tearful when receiving her marks.
“I was just focused on my skate and getting it clean,” Samodurova said. “My work bore fruit.”
Zagitova was unbeaten at senior level when she beat Evgenia Medvedeva to Olympic gold in Pyeongchang a year ago, but since then she’s struggled to match that form.
Fifth place at last season’s world championships was followed by two Grand Prix wins, but she then finished second at last month’s Grand Prix Final to Japan’s Rika Kihira and was a disappointing fifth at the Russian nationals.
Finland earned its first European medal since 2012 when Viveca Lindfors claimed bronze on 194.40. After a weak short program, Stanislava Konstantinova came back strong in the free skate as she tried to give Russia its third European women’s podium sweep in five years, but ultimately fell short on 189.72.
Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France closed in on a fifth consecutive European ice dance title with first place in the opening rhythm section.
Last year’s Olympic silver medalists tangoed to a score of 84.79 points, beating Russia’s Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin into second place on 81.37. Italian duo Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri were third on 79.05.
Experienced Russians Viktoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov hope to challenge for medals but dropped to fifth after Katsalapov fell.
The competition finishes on Saturday with the free dance.