The first time Evgeni Plushenko won the gold at the European Figure Skating Championships was 12 years ago. And now at 29 and in his second comeback to competitive ice, he has taken the title again, troubled knee and all. After trailing teammate Artur Gachinski in the short program, Plushenko overtook him and pulled away for a convincing win that reestablishes him as one of the top skaters in the world.
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Though Plushenko took out the quad in the short program, it was back in his arsenal in the free skate. He opened with a strong quad toe, then added seven more triples, including two triple axels, to win the competition with a total score of 261.23. Incidentally, both his total score and his free skate mark of 176.52 were highest recorded by any skater this season internationally.
The leader after the short program, Gachinski looks to be peaking at the right time again as the World Championships approaches. He hit two solid quad toes at the beginning of his program and went on to land four more clean triples, including two triple axels. Though eclipsed by Plushenko, Gachinski was nevertheless able to give Russia a 1-2 on the men’s podium, capturing the silver with a 246.27 after finishing fifth last year.
Also looking stronger than he has all season was reigning champion Florent Amodio, who started off by doubling his quad salchow but completed his free skate with six clean triples to move up from fifth to win the bronze.
The Czech Republic rounded out the top five, with Michal Brezina and former European champion Tomas Verner taking fourth and fifth, respectively, after both having problems with their quad toes. Grand Prix Final bronze medalist Javier Fernandez opened strongly with a turn out of his quad toe and a clean quad salchow. But he made mistakes on five of his next six jumping passes, including pops on both of his triple axels, and dropped to sixth.
MEN (final standings)
1. Evgeni Plushenko RUS – 261.23
2. Artur Gachinski RUS – 246.27
3. Florent Amodio FRA – 234.18
4. Michal Brezina CZE – 229.30
5. Tomas Verner CZE – 225.36
6. Javier Fernandez ESP – 222.26
7. Samuel Contesti ITA _ 212.32
8. Brian Joubert FRA – 207.83
9. Jorik Hendrickx BEL – 204.63
10. Sergei Voronov RUS – 195.89
11. Alexander Majorov SWE – 193.18
12. Chafik Besseghier FRA – 181.85
13. Kim Lucine MON – 179.33
14. Zoltan Kelemen ROU – 178.02
15. Peter Liebers GER – 176.75
16. Paolo Bacchini ITA – 170.11
17. Paul Fentz GER – 169.40
18. Viktor Pfeifer AUT – 168.92
19. Maciej Cieplucha POL – 166.86
20. Justus Strid DEN – 156.33
21. Dmitri Ignatenko UKR – 154.88
22. Alexei Bychenko ISR – 141.19
23. Viktor Romanenkov EST – 135.09
WD Kevin Van Der Perren BEL
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