Stephanie Main, the British skater, yesterday failed to qualify for the women's final after finishing a disappointing 26th in the short programme at the European championships in Sofia.
Main needed to be in the top 24 to reach the closing stages, where the five-times champion Surya Bonaly will have the advantage after a close contest. Bonaly, of France, took a narrow lead after two tie-breaks were needed to separate her and Irina Slutskaya of Russia.
Tanja Szewczenko of Germany, coming off a poor performance at her recent national championship, held third place with another Russian, Maria Butyrskaya, fourth. The winner of the short programme last year, however, Olga Markova of Russia, could only manage 11th after two serious errors.
Steven Cousins, the British champion, was very disappointed by his failure to win a medal in Sofia. "It was so close, but close doesn't cut it," the 23-year-old from Deeside said.
Cousins, the seven-times British champion, went into the free skating final on Thursday in third place, but on a night of erratic skating, he fell on his first attempted triple axel.
The world and Olympic ice dance champions, Oksana Gritschuk and Evgeny Platov, employed a Latin American beat to take their first European title last night.
The Russian couple won the gold medal at the 1994 Olympics for their first major international championship, but after two world titles in between, in 1994 and 1995, this was their first European success. They missed last year's event because Platov had a knee injury.
Their compatriots Anjelika Krylova and Oleg Ovsiannikov, second to the winners in every section of the event, took the silver medal with a spritely Russian dance. Irina Romanova and Igor Yaroshenko of the Ukraine held on to the bronze medal position with a rousing performance to the famous music from the film Zorba the Greek.
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