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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Plushenko Takes 5th European Gold

APYevgeny Plushenko lying on the ice on Saturday after his gold medal-winning free skate at the European Figure Skating Championships in Lyon, France.
LYON, France -- Yevgeny Plushenko was short of breath early in his routine.

The Russian, who has been battling the flu, didn't let that stop him from winning his fifth men's title at the European Figure Skating Championships on Saturday, however. "It was very difficult to skate the program because I'm still not healthy," said Plushenko, who also sealed another Russian sweep of the gold medals at the continental competition with his win.

"After the third minute, I couldn't breathe. I was gulping for air, like a fish out of water.

"Yeah. ... It was hard."

It was the third time in the last four years the Russians won all four titles. They also did it from 1997-99, and are now looking to repeat the feat at next month's Olympics.

Last year, Plushenko was the only Russian not to repeat at the world championships when he dropped out with a groin injury. Now, he has taken revenge against world champion Stephane Lambiel, who was second Saturday. France's Brian Joubert, who upset Plushenko at the 2004 Europeans, was third.

Plushenko opened with a quadruple jump and added seven more triples in his routine to "The Godfather."

His jumps were huge at the start. He did two triple axels, including one in combination with a triple toe loop and a double loop.

He tired near the end of his routine, showing effects of the flu, by doubling a salchow and slowing on his spins.

"I almost didn't come. But this is the final preparation before the Olympic Games," Plushenko said.

As soon as Plushenko finished the routine, he went flat on his back on the ice to rest.

Still, he was by far the best.

The Russian scored 245.33 points, followed by Lambiel with 228.87 and Joubert with 222.95.

Lambiel paid tribute to the winner.

"Plushenko was the best today. Against him I can't make any errors," the Swiss said.

Lambiel, in a routine to Vivaldi's "Four Seasons," had to step out of a triple jump and put a hand down on a second quad. He also stumbled twice in his footwork down the ice.

"I was very relaxed in my program, and I didn't concentrate enough," the Swiss said.


Francois Mori / AP

Slutskaya with her medal Saturday

But he managed a triple axel at the start. He fell on that in Friday's short program. "I believed in my triple axel," he said. "It was important to land the triple axel today. In my mind, I don't have any problems with this jump. "I was very confident, and I had no doubt of landing the axel."

Joubert missed his triple axel twice. He landed a quad but slipped right after it. "I did a stupid mistake on the quad," Joubert said. "It was good jump, and then I relaxed too much.

"Now is not the time to be 100 percent," Joubert added. The competition ended with Russians getting six of the 12 medals.

Irina Slutskaya won the women's title for a record seventh time to better the record she shared with Sonja Henie and Katarina Witt. Now, Slutskaya heads to Turin hoping to get Olympic gold like they did. Yelena Sokolova came in second and showed the form that made her the 2003 world silver medalist behind Michelle Kwan.

Tatyana Navka and Roman Kostomarov won the ice dance although the top cheers went to veterans Margarita Drobiazko and Povilas Vanagas of Lithuania. At 34 and 35, they were the oldest in the competition and had not been to a major championship since 2002.

Tatyana Totmyanina and Maxim Marinin took the pairs for the fifth straight year. For the second year in a row, Totmyanina was hospitalized earlier in the season but came back to win gold.