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France takes three medals, two titles at European ice skating championships

France ended the European figure skating championships in Switzerland with three medals, including two gold, with Florent Amodio (pictured) taking the men’s title after Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat won the ice dance trophy.

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AFP - Switzerland's Sarah Meier bowed out of figure skating in style when she was crowned European champion on Saturday as French debutant Florent Amodio took the men's title.

The 26-year-old Meier won with a total of 170.60 points, beating triple champion Carolina Kostner of Italy (168.54) while Finn Kiira Korpi (166.40), who had led after the short programme, took bronze after an error-hit performance.

Meier, who had twice been a runner-up and was third after the short programme, was reduced to tears as her victory was greeted with a standing ovation by her adoring public.

Meier came into the tournament having suffered two years of injury misery and had been poised to retire in 2010.

But the temptation to bid farewell in front of her home crowd proved too hard to resist.

"Once the music started, I relaxed and let my heart speak," said the Swiss, who broke down in tears at the end of her performance which delivered a first major title.

In the Kiss and Cry corner, she was joined by coach Eva Fehr and compatriot Stephane Lambiel, the 2006 Olympic silver medallist and double world champion who retired after the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

Kostner, who had been sixth after the short programme, collected her seventh career international medal.

Amodio, 20, marked his first European championships by edging compatriot, and three-time champion, Brian Joubert into second spot while Tomas Verner of the Czech Republic claimed bronze.

France ended the championships with three medals in total and two titles after Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat had won the ice dance trophy on Friday.

Brazilian-born Amodio, who was adopted by French parents when he was just four weeks old, had led after Thursday's short programme.

His third place in Saturday's free programme, where he scored 148.75 points to Joubert's best 152.57 points, gave him an overall total of 226.86 points.

Joubert finished on 223.01 with Verner on 222.60.

"It was really hard to skate tonight. I had two or three little errors but overall I was happy with the free programme," said Amodio.

"The crowd were great. Sometimes I couldn't hear the music. It was magical."

Amodio only made his senior debut in 2010 with his lone appearance at this level ending in a 12th place finish at the Vancouver Olympics.

The 26-year-old Joubert won his 16th international medal and 10th in Europe.

The 2007 world champion had struggled into seventh place in his short programme where he had fallen on a triple lutz, just as he did at the Olympics.

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