Figure skating: Gachinski leads Plushenko

Rising Russian star Artur Gachinski overshadowed former Olympic champion Yevgeny Plushenko’s return by leading the men’s short program at the European figure skating championships here on Thursday.

World bronze medallist Gachinski, 18, opened up a 0.09-point margin on three-time world champion Plushenko, 29, who is competing for the first time since taking silver at the 2010 Olympics.

Skating to the music ‘Saint Louis Blues’ Gachinski scored 84.80 points for short program with Plushenko achieving 84.71. Czech Tomas Verner is in third position (81.14) and Spaniard Javier Fernandez fourth (80.11).

Defending champion Florent Amodio of France struggled in fifth (78.48) after failing to complete his quadruple jump and downgrading his planned triple-triple to a triple-double.

Compatriot Brian Joubert, the 2007 world champion, managed just the 10th best score (67.92) ahead of Saturday’s free skating final.

Three-time European champion Joubert has never finished off the podium in his last 10 appearances at the continental championship, but fell on his opening quadruple, failed to complete his combination jumps and popped his triple axel.

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