Sun, Jan 25, 2009 - Page 18 News List

Russians Khokhlova and Novitski win ice dance

AP , HELSINKI

Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski captured their first major ice dance title by winning the European championships on Friday.

Now the Russians hope many more will follow.

“It is still unreal,” Khokhlova said. “I think this gold medal is only the beginning of a long way, but it was a big step for us.”

Khokhlova and Novitski won the free dance, completing a sweep of all three segments. Their overall score of 196.91 points was more than 10 points ahead of Italy’s Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali.

Sinead and John Kerr of Britain took the bronze medal.

Earlier, Laura Lepisto and Susanna Poykio gave the hometown fans a thrill with a 1-2 finish in the short program.

Favorite Carolina Kostner of Italy has work to do if she’s going to win a third straight European title after falling on the takeoff of her triple lutz. The free skate was yesterday.

Khokhlova and Novitski are two-time Russian champions, but they have come up short at the bigger events: Europeans, the world championships and the Grand Prix final.

Their best finishes were last year, when they won bronze medals at both Europeans and worlds.

But with world champions Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder sidelined by her shoulder injury and last year’s European winners, Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin, forced to withdraw when he injured his knee again, the title was there for Khokhlova and Novitski’s taking.

They did not disappoint.

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