January 29, 2015

STOCKHOLM (AP) Elena Radionova led a Russian sweep of the top three in the short program at the European figure skating championships on Thursday, in a performance she said was something of an emotional watershed.

''I really had fun. It was the first time I really had so much fun with what I was doing,'' she said.

Elizaveta Tuktamysheva trailed by less than 1.5 points, and Anna Pogorilaya was another three points back.

All were well ahead of fourth-place Kiira Korpi of Finland.

France's Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron won the ice dancing with a free dance program to a Mozart piano concerto. Last year's champions, Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte, won silver and Russia's Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin were third.

Radionova, the Grand Prix Final silver medalist last month, landed the opening part of her triple lutz-triple toeloop combination uncertainly, but the rest of her program featured light landings and ended with a fast and flexible layback spin to lively, syncopated Spanish dance music.

All three Russians completed three triples.

Tuktamysheva, the Grand Prix Final champion, did her triple-triple combination as two toeloops, with a lower base value than Radionova's combo, but she added value by doing a double axel with one arm raised toward the rafters.

Unlike Radionova, Tuktamysheva said she wasn't quite in the zone psychologically for her skate to Ravel's ''Bolero.''

''Emotionally, I don't know how much it was visible, but I felt like I wasn't as emotional as I could have been. Maybe the music was a little quiet, so I didn't have so much fun,'' she said. ''Spectators see if you're just working.''

Pogorilaya, however, said she was surprisingly relaxed for her first appearance in the European champs. ''It was like it all went by in one breath,'' she said.

Radionova had a more sober-sided view: ''This is my first European championships ... I approach it with a lot of responsibility,'' she said.

Tuktamysheva has been landing a triple axel in practice, but doesn't appear ready to try it in competition during the free skate on Saturday.

''It's a very difficult jump, technically and emotionally,'' she said.

Papadakis' and Cizeron's free dance was both precise and romantic, ending as a long rotational lift segued into choreographed spins, the couple going around and around as if dizzied with desire.

The gold in Stockholm comes after three Grand Prix wins, a record that Cizeron said ''has been a big surprise to us. Our goals were a lot less than what we did'' this season.

Cappellini and Lanotte skated to Camille Saint-Saens' ''Danse Macabre,'' and captured its airs both of comic mischief and elegance. Their straight line lift saw Cappellini jutting off Lanotte's leg like a ship's figurehead.

After a season troubled by uncertainty and program changes, the Italian couple's silver ''is really worth gold,'' Cappellini said. ''We really had a period of self-doubt.''

Stepanova and Bukin, in their first European championships, skated to an extended improvisation of ''Eleanor Rigby'' that went from melancholy to jazzy. They benefited from the troubles of compatriots Elena Ilinykh and Ruslan Zhiganshin, who dropped to fourth after placing second in the short dance.

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