It was the titleholder Bonaly's first defeat in a section of a European championship in four years and her reaction was reminiscent of her protest at last year's world championships in Japan where she refused, at first, to mount the podium for the victory ceremony. She then took off her silver medal while the Japanese national anthem was being played for the winner, Yuka Sato.
Though Markova appeared to many to have the edge yesterday, the Frenchwoman did not take kindly to defeat. "My performance was almost perfect, but I'm not satisfied with the marks. The placing is not my fault," Bonaly said after leaving the ice.
Later, before leaving the rinkside area, she added tersely: "You can imagine how I feel."
Bonaly last lost a section of a women's event at the championships in 1991, when she was second in the short programme before taking the first of her four successive titles. She will have the chance to make it five in a row in the free skating this afternoon.
Markova, a 21-year-old from St Petersburg, said: "I felt well prepared and it was great."
Bonaly has twice beaten the Olympic champion, Oksana Baiul of Ukraine, to take the title. Baiul is not competing this year, but she may be back next year if she is reinstated from the professional ranks by 1 April.
Tanja Szewczenko, the German champion, was fourth with a clean programme, although all her landings were not completely smooth. Another German contender took herself out of the running for a medal. Marina Kielmann of Germany, skating in her home town, slipped on the jump combination and earned marks as low as 4.0 to stand 13th.
Victory today for Markova would give Russia a double after their 17-year-old newcomer, Ilya Kulik, held off their Olympic champion, Alexei Urmanov, to win the men's event.
Kulik, who won the world junior title two months ago and was taking part in his first major competition, held on, winning the short programme to take the gold medal. Urmanov recovered from sixth to finish second overall with a dynamic and classical free skating routine that earned the only perfect 6.0 of the evening.
European Figure Skating Championships (Dortmund): Women: Positions after short program: 1 O Markova (Rus) 0.5 factored placings; 2 S Bonaly (Fr) 1.0; 3 M Butyrskaya (Rus) 1.5; 4 T Szewczenko (Ger) 2.0; 5 E Liashenko (Ukr) 2.5; 6 Y Lavrenchuk (Ukr) 3.0; 7Z Szwed (Pol) 3.5; 8 K Berankova (Cz Rep) 4.0; 9 K Czako (Hung) 4.5; 10 L Hubert (Fr) 5.0. Selected: 28 J Arrowsmith (GB) 14.0. Men: Final standings: 1 I Kulik (Rus) 2.5pts; 2 A Urmanov (Rus) 4.0; 3 V Zagorodniuk (Ukr) 4.0. Selected: 8 S Cousins (GB) 11.0.Reuse content