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Joubert wins third European crown

FRANCE'S Brian Joubert won his third European title on Thursday with a competition debut of his new free skate routine.

Joubert, winner of the championships in 2004 and 2007, turned in a flawed but sufficient performance to the soundtracks of "Matrix: Reloaded" and "Requiem for a Dream" to score 232.01 points overall.

That score was well ahead of Italian Samuel Contesti (220.92) and Belgian Kevin Van der Perren (219.36).

Czech world number one Tomas Verner, the defending champion, had an uninspired night and finished sixth overall.

"I knew it was going to tough today, I only changed to this programme two weeks ago," Joubert told reporters. "But I had a good feeling about it."

Joubert, who has struggled with a back injury this season as well as problems with his skates, made several mistakes in his performance including a major fall.

His free skate was still judged as the second best (145.11).

Joubert's compatriot Yannick Ponsero delighted the Finnish crowd with the finest performance of the night, scoring 151.85 points to a medley of music performed by Brian Setzer and Louis Armstrong.

"I am disappointed with the mistakes. I had the energy, but I wasn't confident enough," said Joubert, who won the world championships in 2007 and finished runner-up last year.

"(But) Now I've got two months until the world championships (in Los Angeles) to fix these things.

"All wins are important, but this one was especially important, because the beginning of this season has been really tough for me."

Earlier, Russians Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski won the original dance to extend their overall lead in the ice dancing.

Khokhlova and Novitski, chasing their first European title, skated to "Sam's Blues" and "Puttin' On the Ritz", scoring 62.17 for 99.60 points overall and a strong lead.

Italians Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali trail the leaders by more than four points with 95.06 overall. British siblings Sinead and John Kerr lie in third place on 92.60.


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