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Javier Fernandez wins 4th straight European figure skating title

Javier Fernandez of Spain won his fourth straight European title on Thursday with the best free program at the European figure skating championships in Bratislava, Slovakia.

World champion lands 3 quads in free skate

Spain's Javier Fernandez won his fourth consecutive European figure skating championship by nearly 60 points over Israel's Alexei Bychenko in Bratislava, Slovakia. (Petr David Josek/The Associated Press)

Javier Fernandez of Spain won his fourth straight European title on Thursday with the best free program at the European figure skating championships in Bratislava, Slovakia.

Fernandez, coached by Canada's Brian Orser, had a convincing lead of more than 14 points after winning the short program and performed the free skate no rival could match. It was not flawless, though, with a notable fall on a triple axel.

Skating to Guys and Dolls performed by Frank Sinatra, the 2015 world champion who trains at the Toronto Cricket Skating Club, set the pace with a quad toe loop, went on with a quad-triple combination and added a quad Salchow to win the free skate with 200.23 points for a total of 302.77.

"It was amazing," Fernandez told the cheering crowd. "I was really nervous, I know I had already three and of course it was going to be hard but I did it. I keep making the history of my country. Hopefully, I can go for many more years. And I can get another, fifth, next year. "

He became the first European to score more than 200 points in the free program and more than 300 overall.

Fernandez said he hoped to be even better at the worlds in Boston in March.

"Today, it was an important day for me, it was a step forward. Hopefully, I can keep training hard and in the next competition, the world championships, I can do this program even better."

Alexei Bychenko of Israel opened with a quad toe loop but fell on another quad toe loop for the fourth best free program but that was enough to finish second overall almost 60 points behind Fernandez

Maxim Kovtun of Russia who took bronze also had a fall on a quad toe loop.

The 2011 champion Florent Amodio of France who announced retirement after the Europeans nailed a quad Salchow in what was his last competition for the second best free program to place fourth.

Earlier Thursday , Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte of Italy took the lead in the ice dance competition after winning the short dance.

Performing waltz and polka to the Merry Widow by Franz Lehar, the 2014 European and world champions earned 72.31 points for their lively performance.

Defending champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France trailed by more than 1.5 points in second with 70.74 while the 2013 champions Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev of Russia were third with 68.71.

In the short dance, competitors have 2 minutes, 50 seconds to perform required moves to a given music.

The free dance is scheduled for Saturday.

With files from CBC Sports

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