BUDAPEST, January 16 (R-Sport) – Russia’s Adelina Sotnikova produced the highest-scoring skate of her career to take the lead after the ladies’ short program at the European figure skating championships Wednesday.
Sotnikova, who has won four Russian titles but often struggled to replicate those performances on the world stage, skated faultlessly in Budapest to score 70.73, just ahead of 15-year-old fellow Russian Julia Lipnitskaia on 69.97.
Triple European champion Carolina Kostner of Italy is third, her score of 68.97 stopping Russia’s fourth-placed Alena Leonova from completing a sweep of the podium places.
With a month to go before the Winter Games in Sochi, the Russians and Kostner are the only Olympic medal contenders in the European field, but their performances Wednesday matched up well to world leaders such as South Korea’s Yuna Kim and Japan’s Mao Asada.
“There was a little moment of worry, but I managed to get rid of that,” said Sotnikova. “I’m very happy that I completed all my elements.”
With the free program to come Friday, Sotnikova said that keeping calm would be counter-productive. “You have to go out with emotions and skate the free program in an insane way,” she said.
Kostner also skated clean in the first performance of her new short program to the music of an Ave Maria.
Leonova will be worried to be behind her fellow Russians – the host nation has only two places in the Olympic women's event.
Later Wednesday, the ice dancers take to the arena for their short dances, with a free dance Thursday after the men’s short program.
On Friday, the pairs short program precedes the ladies’ free. The men’s final is Saturday, before the pairs wrap up the championships Sunday.