Ice Skating: Kulik's short success

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The Independent Online
Russia's Ilya Kulik and Viacheslav Zagorodniuk, of Ukraine, put poor qualifying displays behind them to dominate the men's short programme at the European Figure Skating Championships in Paris yesterday.

Kulik, champion in 1995, and Zagorodniuk, champion last year, called on their experience to snatch the top two places after skating far below their best in qualifying on Sunday.

Fourth and sixth in their qualifying group, both performed the key element of the short programme - the jump combination - superbly, each completing a difficult triple axel linked with a triple toe loop.

Andrei Vlascenko, a former Latvian skating for Germany, sprang a surprise by taking third place, with French favourite Philippe Candeloro fourth.

The Russians Alexei Yagudin and Olympic champion Alexei Urmanov, who missed his combination, held fifth and sixth places followed by the Ukrainians Evgeny Pliuta and former champion Dmitry Dmitrenko.

The Briton Steven Cousins, fourth last year, managed only 10th place, six positions ahead of his team-mate Neil Wilson whom he must beat here to earn his country's only place in the World Championships in March.