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Russia sweeps figure skating pairs at Europeans

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Graz (Austria) (AFP)

Russia's Aleksandra Boikava and Dmitrii Kozlovskii romped to the European Championships figure skating pairs gold on Friday as the nation dominated the day's proceedings.

Skaters from Russia also took silver and bronze on a day where three Russians also sealed the top three slots after the women's short programme.

The 18-year-old Boikava and her 20-year-old partner Kozlovskii are Russian champions and recently won Skate Canada.

On Friday, they struck gold again with a season-best mark of 234.58 points.

The 2017 European gold medallists Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov took silver with 208.64 while Daria Pavliuchenko and Denis Khodykin ran them close in third place with 206.53.

Earlier Friday, Alena Kostornaia led a trio of Russian teenagers at the top of the women's short programme.

Kostornaia, at 16 the eldest of the three, opened up a significant advantage ahead of Saturday's free skate with 84.92 points.

Anna Shcherbakova, with 77.95 points, and Alexandra Trusova, on 74.95, will be counting on deploying their quadruple jumps to claw back their year older compatriot's advantage.

"I'm not really satisfied. I skated clean, I did all my elements but I would love to improve with every competition and it seems I went down," said Kostornaia.

"I can interpret the character better. But the character itself is still the same. It is an angel who came to earth and got a chance to return back in the end of the story."

Kostornaia arrived in Austria on the back of her record-breaking win in December's Grand Prix Final title.

The girl from Moscow achieved a new record score in the short programme at Turin of 85.45 for a best ever total of 247.59 to beat Shcherbakova and Trusova.

She will be relying on her series of triple Axels to woo the Graz jury and deny her two training partners.

All three are making their European Championships debut after graduating from the junior ranks with Russia on course for a seventh straight ladies title.

The figure skating supergiant has already claimed gold in Graz with Dmitri Aliev clinching the men's crown vacated by Spanish star Javier Fernandez on Thursday.

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