Kulik wins at first attempt

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The Independent Online
ICE SKATING : Ilya Kulik took the European men's title on his first attempt with a sensational display of nine triple jumps at the European Championships in Dortmund yesterday. Though two were slightly flawed, the 17-year-old confirmed the immens e promise he showed when he beat a talented field in the short programme on Wednesday.

Kulik, who won the world junior title only two months ago, became only the second skater outside the pairs since World War Two to capture a European title on his first attempt. The first was 1993 champion, Ukraine's Dimitri Dimitrenko, who was seventh onThursday.

Outstanding though he was, Kulik was surpassed on the night by the Olympic champion, Alexei Urmanov, his Russian compatriot who leaped from sixth place before the final to snatch the silver medal with a perfect score.

Susanna Rahkamo and Petri Kokko set up a thrilling finale to the ice dance competition when they took over the lead from theFrench couple, Sophie Moniotte and Pascal Lavanchy.

The Finns produced an enthralling original dance to a quick-step rhythm to snatch the lead from the French ahead of today's free dance final. The margin is slim, with the Finns on 1.4 points and the French on 1.6.

n Natalia Mishkutienok and Artur Dimitriev, the 1992 Russian Olympic pairs champions, are to split up. Mishkutienok, who is getting married, is retiring. They also won the 1991 and 1992 European and world titles.