Ilya Kulik, a 17-year-old unknown from Russia, surprised the top performers with a stunning international debut at the European figure skating championships in Dortmund yesterday. Kulik left a group of big names strung out behind him as he won theshort programme with a superb and surprisingly mature display of jumping prowess. "I'm happy to have given such a good performance in my first European championship," he said. "It is very important to skate the short programme without flaws."
The world bronze medallist, Viacheslav Zagorodniuk of Ukraine, finished a close second with the world silver medallist and sentimental favourite, Philippe Candeloro, third. Britain's Steven Cousins was 10th.
The Olympic champion, Alexei Urmanov, made one major and one minor mistake on his jumps and was in sixth place.