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Aliev wins European figure skating title as Brezina implodes

GRAZ, Austria (AP) — Russia's Dmitri Aliev won his first European figure skating title on Thursday after short-program leader Michal Brezina plummeted out of the medals with an erratic free skate. Aliev was in second place behind Brezina, but took the lead by landing three quadruple jumps in a near-flawless free skate to score 184.44 points for a total of 272.89. Skating last, Brezina doubled his opening quad Salchow then fell on his next two jumps, dropping to seventh overall.

Aliev wept after realizing he'd become European champion, the latest stage in an up-and-down career which included European silver in 2018 before he failed to make Russia's team for the championship last year.

Aliev became the first new European men's champion since 2013. Spain's Javier Fernandez won seven consecutive titles before retiring last year. Artur Danielian, a 16-year-old Russian, took silver on his major championship debut, landing two quad Salchows. He finished second by the narrowest of margins, scoring 246.74 against Morisi Kvitelashvili of Georgia's 246.71.

French skater Kevin Aymoz had been tipped as a gold medal contender, but failed to qualify for the free skate altogether after two falls in his short program Wednesday. Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron took a narrow lead in the ice dance at the European figure skating championships on Thursday as they seek to extend their unbeaten run of nearly two years.

Skating in 1980s-style aerobics costumes to excerpts from the musical “Fame,” the French duo scored 88.78 points to lead by .05 points ahead of Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov of Russia in the rhythm dance event.

Papadakis and Cizeron are chasing their sixth consecutive European title in ice dance. That would match the record held by Soviet dancers Lyudmila Pakhomova and Alexander Gorshkov, who won six titles. However, only Papadakis and Cizeron have won more than four in a row.

Sinitsina and Katsalapov are aiming to win their first European medal after coming second to Papadakis and Cizeron at the world championships last year. Italy's Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri are in the bronze medal position on 84.66. The competition concludes with the free dance on Saturday.

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