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Yagudin Takes Charge With Energy, Precision

Figure skating: Russian wins short program and leads men's competition at European championships.

January 16, 2002|From Associated Press

LAUSANNE, Switzerland — Alexei Yagudin won the short program Tuesday, positioning himself to recapture the European Figure Skating Championship he lost two years in a row to teammate Yevgeny Plushchenko.

Although he set a lighthearted tone during his homage to winter, Yagudin delivered the required elements with practiced seriousness.

The Russian hit a clean quad-triple combination, two more triples and had a sequence of captivating footwork that sent ice shavings flying.

Three other skaters also hit quad combinations, but Yagudin's mix of precision and energy put him firmly in first place, earning mostly 5.9s for both technical merit and presentation.

"Of course the steps, that's what I like," Yagudin said. "The jumps are the same, the spins are the same. But I had a good time creating the steps."

Russian teammate Alexander Abt finished second, delivering a clean quad-triple, ahead of France's Brian Joubert, whose quad combination contained a double. Ilya Klimkin also hit a quad-triple to finish fourth, leaving the Russians in strong contention for a sweep.

Plushchenko is sitting out the competition with a reported groin injury, saving his challenge for the Olympics next month at Salt Lake City.

The women's competition begins today with qualifying rounds. The pairs final skate is scheduled for tonight.

Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat of France, and defending champions Barbara Fusar-Poli and Maurizio Margaglio of Italy, are tied for first place in ice dancing after splitting the compulsory dances.

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