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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Plushenko Gets Leg Up on Yagudin




VIENNA, Austria -- A dazzling display of jumping carried 17-year-old Russian Yevgeny Plushenko to the European men's title Thursday, deposing Alexei Yagudin, the champion of the past two years.


Plushenko, the Volgograd prodigy trained by Yagudin's former coach Alexei Mishin in St. Petersburg, brought off a succession of spectacular leaps beginning with a quad toe loop-triple toe loop combination.


He just failed with a double loop at the end of it in a brave attempt at a three-jump combination, over-rotating the landing.


Seven more triple jumps followed in a varied and highly entertaining program to Russian folk and gypsy music and earned Plushenko a collection of 10 5.9s and eight 5.8s from the nine judges for technique and artistry.


"It was difficult to skate tonight. I'm getting tired because it has been a long season," Plushenko said.


"I didn't know if my performance would be good enough. I knew Alexei could beat me because I made mistakes," Plushenko added, saying he had two-footed a triple axel besides the error on the double loop in the combination.


But Yagudin, skating last after Plushenko, could not match him. He began with a fine solo quad and did seven triples but the landings on three of them were not completely clean.


The double world champion's superior artistic talents could not rescue him on this occasion and all nine judges gave the verdict to Plushenko.


"I did what I was able to do at the moment. Now I have one month to prepare for the worlds. I think that will be enough - if nothing else happens to me."


The two Russians were the only skaters to successfully complete quadruple jumps in the final, just as they had been in the short program Tuesday.


Third place went to Dmitry Dmitrenko of Ukraine, his best championship performance since he won this title in his first appearance in 1993.


"I'm happy I did my best skating of the season," Dmitrenko said. "I have changed everything since 1993. I was very young then and had no respect for any skater, not even myself. Now I feel very different."


A third Russian, Alexander Abt, grabbed fourth spot, falling on his attempted quad but then achieving eight triples.


In Cleveland, Naomi Lang and Russian-born partner Peter Tchernyshev became two-time U.S. ice dance champions Thursday.


In a split decision, defending men's champion Michael Weiss ranked first in round one of his event with two 19-year-olds hot on his heels - Timothy Goebel and Matt Savoie. The U.S. title will go to the winner of Saturday's final freeskate, worth two-thirds of the final score.


Lang and Tchernyshev's light and lyrical freedance, performed to Sarah Brightman's "Anytime, Anywhere," received a surprising 6.0 from one of the nine judges.


The couple, ranked 10th in the world, will go to the world championships in Nice, France, in late March.


Silver medallists Jamie Silverstein and Justin Pekarek, the 1999 world junior champions who train with Lang and Tchernyshev in Detroit, will also travel to France.


The bronze medal was awarded to Debbie Koegel and another Russian import: Oleg Fediukov, who became a U.S. citizen last month.


That made Koegel and Fediukov eligible to represent the United States at the 2002 Winter Olympics.