Tuktamysheva wins gold at European figure skating champs
STOCKHOLM (AP) Elizaveta Tuktamysheva won gold at the European Figure Skating Championships with a free skate of technical precision and wide emotional range, heading a Russian sweep of the medals in the women's event.
Tuktamysheva was second after the short program, but her free skate to Middle Eastern music featured seven clean triples and a blurringly fast combination spin at the conclusion to push her ahead of compatriot Elena Radionova. Anna Pogorilaya took bronze.
The Russians were way ahead of the rest of the field. Swedish sisters Joshi and Viktoria Helgesson finished fourth and fifth, but more than 20 points behind Pogorilaya.
Tuktamysheva's program puts her through several personas, beginning with sedately mysterious strains and reaching an intense, percussive climax four minutes later.
''I've worked a lot on that; I wanted to show a lot of emotions so it doesn't get boring for the judges and spectators,'' she said.
The free skate began with a triple lutz-double toeloop-double loop cascade, followed quickly by a second lutz of notable height. Well after the two-minute mark she managed a triple salchow-double axel that she said was the watershed point.
''I felt good after I did the second lutz and then the best moment was when I landed the triple salchow-double axel,'' she said. ''I was like, `yes!'''
Radionova skated to excerpts from Sergei Rachmaninoff's music and like Tuktamysheva landed seven clean triples, along with two double axels in succession. She raised her leg behind her head in a Bielmann spin at the conclusion so fluidly it appeared effortless.
''I'm so happy I was able to show my best performance at my first European Championships,'' she said.
Pogorilaya's fluid style was both a contrast and complement to the angular strains of excerpts from Stravinsky's ''Firebird.'' She started strong with a triple lutz-triple toe and a triple-single-triple cascade, but faltered by putting a hand down on her next two triples.
''The beginning was good, but then, I don't know, maybe I was tired, maybe I didn't pull myself together enough, so it was like mixed success with the program; I can do better than that,'' she said.
And despite her medal, she said ''I think I really haven't yet found my style, my own skating style, so I'm still looking for it.''
The Russian podium sweep was heartening to all three.
''It's not a shame that I lost to these two girls,'' Pogorilaya said.
Russia was also the last country to take all three European women's medals, in 2002.