Russia's Lipnitskaia wins European figure skating championship
BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) -- Julia Lipnitskaia's spectacular but respectful routine to John Williams' score from "Schindler's List" earned her the gold medal in the women's event at the European figure skating championships on Friday.
The 15-year-old Lipnitskaia, who was second behind compatriot Adelina Sotnikova after Wednesday's short program, completed jump after spectacular jump, ending her skate with a spin so fast she briefly became a blur. She scored 209.72 points, her season's best.
"I was very nervous before my skate and my legs were trembling," Lipnitskaia said. "In the second half of the program I was able to pull myself together and skate really well."
Sotnikova, who faltered after a triple lutz but otherwise presented an exquisite routine, finished second with 202.36 points, while Italy's Carolina Kostner, the defending and five-time champion, finished third with 191.39 points.
Lipnitskaia was the youngest competitor in the field and also became the youngest winner of the event.
Lipnitskaia wore a red dress, evoking the little girl in Steven Spielberg's film whose red coat is one of the only details in color in the black-and-white film. The tension in the performance was evident, but she said it did not affect her presentation.
"Emotions help me to perform well," said Lipnitskaia, the first Russian winner of the event since Irina Slutskaya in 2006. "I always thought that they would distract me, hinder my technique, but I discovered that emotions help me improve my performance."
Lipnitskaia and Sotnikova are the favorites to get the two Olympic slots Russia earned in the women's event, with Russian skating officials set to make a decision by Jan. 27.
"I think that now as a European champion I should make the team," Lipnitskaia said. "My goal for the Olympics is just to skate clean and show good skating."
Friday's other event, the pairs' short program, was won by defending champions Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov of Russia, who earned a season-best score in dominating the competition.
Volosozhar and Trankov, also the world champions, earned 83.98 points, more than seven better than second-place Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany, winners of four of the last six worlds.
Skating to Aram Khachaturian's "Masquerade Waltz," the Russians completed all of the elements superbly, and received maximum levels for their steps, spins, lifts and death spiral.
"We were nervous as we skated toward the end - next to last - and the tension was high," Trankov said. "But we were able to deal with it and skated in a good mood."
The Russians impressed with the speed of their routine, the pristine jumps and seemingly effortless lifts and throws.
"For us it's a good result for the moment," Trankov added. "We hope we will get our third (European) title."
Savchenko and Szolkowy received 76.76 points and faltered when Savchenko stepped out of her landing in the throw triple flip and put a hand on the ice to regain her balance.
The error "was completely new to us," Szolkowy said. "Most of the times when we have a mistake ... it's me."
Russians rounded out the top four with Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov third and Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov fourth.
The men's free skate will be on Saturday while the pairs' free skate, the concluding event, will be on Sunday.
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