Russia's Sotnikova leads after debut at Europeans

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Associated Press

Posted on January 25, 2013 at 2:36 PM

ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) — Adelina Sotnikova of Russia produced a superb performance on her debut at the European figure skating championships to lead after the women's short program on Friday.

The 16-year-old Sotnikova landed a triple toe loop-triple toe loop combination, a triple flip and double axel in a routine that gave her 67.61 points from the judges.

"I'm very happy, I did everything I set out to and it was my first clean short program I did at the senior level," said Sotnikova, who beat her previous personal best by 6.29 points. "Hopefully I'll skate as well (in the free skate) tomorrow."

Defending champion Carolina Kostner's chances to earn a fifth European crown dwindled when she fell on the triple-triple, leaving the Italian trailing in second on 64.19 points.

"Apart from my fall, I'm very pleased with how I skated," said Kostner, the reigning world champion. "I felt very comfortable with how I skated. I hope to do better tomorrow."

Valentina Marchei of Italy placed third at 58.22, while another Russian 16-year-old, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, was fourth. Swedish sisters Joshi and Viktoria Helgesson were fifth and sixth, respectively.

The free dance portion of the ice dance was scheduled for later Friday, with Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev of Russia leading after Wednesday's short dance.

Florent Amodio of France leads the men's competition going into Saturday's free skate. The European bronze medalist won the short program on Thursday, when 2006 Olympic gold medalist and three-time world champion Evgeni Plushenko dropped out after aggravating a chronic back condition.

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