ZAGREB, Croatia - Javier Fernandez produced an exceptional performance in the men's free skate to give Spain its first European figure skating title on Saturday.
"When I stepped on the podium I felt amazing," Fernandez said. "I was thinking, 'This cannot be, this is impossible. I am at the European championships and at the top of the podium!' All I wanted to do was to get down and hug my parents. They put me into the sport, they made me who I am."
Carolina Kostner of Italy successfully defended the women's title, edging Russian 16-year-old Adelina Sotnikova by less than a point to claim her fifth European crown.
"Somehow they have all been quite difficult but this was really hard," said Kostner, who was competing in her first major competition since winning the world title in March 2012.
"It was hard to sit on the couch and watch the others skating. But it was important for my private life and important to be just a 25-year-old girl," Kostner said.
Sotnikova led after a sparkling debut in Friday's short program but could manage only third in the free skate, allowing Kostner, who placed second on both days, to win gold with a personal best score of 194.71 points overall.
Kostner nailed a triple flip-double toe loop combination and also produced a double axel, triple lutz and a triple toe loop-double toe loop combination while performing to Bolero by Maurice Ravel for 130.52 points.
Another Russian 16-year-old, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, placed first in the free skate to claim the bronze with 188.85 points overall.
Tuktamysheva started with a triple lutz-triple toe loop combination and she also managed a triple salchow-double toe loop-double loop combination.
"I am just incredibly happy right now," Tuktamysheva said. "If I skated like that yesterday it would have been even better."
Earlier, Fernandez, performing to a Charlie Chaplin medley, produced a quadruple toe loop, a quadruple salchow and a quadruple salchow and triple toe-loop combination for a personal best 186.07 points, giving him 274.87 overall.
"I had an amazing day. My program went well and judges gave high enough marks for me to win. It is fantastic," Fernandez said.
Florent Amodio of France, who led after Thursday's short skate, had to settle for silver, finishing on 250.53 after placing third in the free skate behind Czech skater Michal Brezina, who claimed the bronze with 243.52 points overall.
Three-time world champion and 2006 Olympic gold medallist Evgeni Plushenko dropped out on Thursday after aggravating a chronic back condition.
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