Finns rewarded for hard day's work : ICE SKATING

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The Independent Online
Susanna Rahkamo and Petri Kokko danced delightfully to two Beatles classics to capture Finland's first European figure skating gold medal at the championships in Dortmund yesterday.

The Finns, third in the ice dance at last year's World Championships, nosed out the French couple who beat them for second place there, Sophie Moniotte and Pascal Lavanchy.

The French again had to settle silver. In Japan they lost to Oksana Gritschuk and Evgeny Platov, who did not compete here but are due at the World Championships in Birmingham next month.

Rahkamo and Kokko skated a plaintive and highly romantic programme for two minutes to a piano version of "Yesterday". They switched to "A Hard Day's Night" and bopped to the gold medal they have worked towards since 1985.

But the margin was close. Five judges went for the Finns and four for the French couple Surya Bonaly, who has shown a disagreeable side in defeat before, was upset to finish second behind Russia's Olga Markova in the women's short programme. It was a first defeat for Bonaly, the title holder, in any section of a European championship for 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.

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 return next year if she is reinstated from the professional ranks by 1 April.

European Figure Skating Championships (Dortmund): Ice dance: Final positions: 1 S Rahkamo/P Kokko (Fin) 2.4pts; 2 S Moniotte/P Lavanchy (Fr) 3.6; 3 A Krylova/O Ovsiannikov (Rus) 6.0; 4 T Navka/S Gezoljan (Belarus) 8.2; 5 M Anissina/G Peizerat (Fr) 10.2; 6 K Mrazova/M Simecek (Cz Rep) 12.2; 7 I Romanova/I Yaroshenko (Ukr) 14.0; 8 J Goolsbee/H Schamberger (Ger) 15.4; 9 I Lobacheva/I Averbuch (Rus) 18.0; 10 B Fusar Poli/M Margaglio (It) 20.4. GB: 18 M Fitzgerald/V Kyle 33.8; 19 C Wileman/A Place 37.6; 20 LBurton/D Lenard 40.0.

Women: Positions after short programme 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; 7 Z Szwed (Pol) 3.5; 8 K Berankova (Cz Rep) 4.0; 9K Czako (Hung) 4.5; 10 L Hubert (Fr) 5.0. GB 28 J Arrowsmith 14.0.

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