Russian first for Slutskaya

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Ice skating

The Russian Irina Slutskaya, 16, with a performance of mature composure at the European Championships on Saturday won her country the figure skating title it has sought.

The Muscovite ended the five-year reign of France's Surya Bonaly, as she became the first woman representing Russia or the former Soviet Union to win a major international championship.

"I don't think I've come to my limits. I will improve," Slutskaya said after she had made the improvement on her short programme that she had promised on Friday, when she finished a close second to Bonaly after two tie-break procedures were used to separate them.

No tie-break was required on Saturday as Slutskaya, fifth last year, produced six text-book triple jumps and an assorted selection of spins that left her first on the cards of all nine judges.

Bonaly had skated just before Slutskaya but the French champion was not at her best and a fall midway through her programme left the door open for Slutskaya.

Russians took the majority of medals in the four events, winning three events. Viacheslav Zagorodniuk prevented a Russian clean sweep by becoming the third Ukrainian winner in four years in the men's event.

Results, Sporting Digest, page 19