Figure Skating - Bobrova and Soloviev lead after short program in Zagreb

Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev are perfectly position to make it third time lucky at the European Figure Skating Championships while Britain's Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland are well placed for a best-ever finish.

Figure Skating - Bobrova and Soloviev lead after short program in Zagreb

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Russia's Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev perform during the ice dance short dance program at the European Figure Skating Championships in Zagreb January 23, 2013 (Reuters)

The Russian ice dance duo have had to make do with European silver for the past two years running however they smashed their personal best in the short dance on the opening day in Zagreb for the lead.

Bobrova and Soloviev were awarded a score of 69.42, comfortably bettering their previous short dance personal best of 66.23 set at last year's Grand Prix Final where they went on to finish fifth.

However they will have to maintain their form in the free dance on Friday with Russian team-mates Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov placing second after the short dance with a score of 68.98.

That was also a comfortable personal best for Ilinykh and Katsalapov with everyone from the Russian top two down to Coomes and Buckland in sixth place following suit in Dom Sportova in Zagreb.

Italian duo Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte are ranked third with 66.53 before a third Russian pair, Ekaterina Riazanova and Ilia Tkachenko, in fourth just a point behind with 64.52.

Julia Zlobina and Alexei Sitnikov and Coomes and Buckland are in fifth and sixth respectively, with just 0.34 separating them while German's Nelli Zhiganshina and Alexander Gazsi are seventh.

Coomes and Buckland, who claimed a career-best finish of sixth at their third European appearance last year, scored 60.59 for their short dance improving on their personal best from 12 months ago by 0.81.

The top 20 from the 25 pairs that started progressed through to the free dance however Coomes and Buckland's British teammates, Charlotte Aiken and Josh Whidborne, weren't among that number.

Making their European Championship debut they scored 41.83 for their short dance however that placed them outside the top 20 in 22nd as they missed out on another skate in Zagreb.

Top 20 after short program

1. Ekaterina Bobrova/Dmitri Soloviev (Russia) 69.42 Q

2. Elena Ilinykh/Nikita Katsalapov (Russia) 68.98 Q

3. Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte (Italy) 66.53 Q

4. Ekaterina Riazanova/Ilia Tkachenko (Russia) 64.52 Q

5. Julia Zlobina/Alexei Sitnikov (Azerbaijan) 60.93 Q

6. Penny Coomes/Nicholas Buckland (Britain) 60.59 Q

7. Nelli Zhiganshina/Alexander Gazsi (Germany) 60.08 Q

8. Charlene Guignard/Marco Fabbri (Italy) 57.63 Q

9. Tanja Kolbe/Stefano Caruso (Germany) 56.54 Q

10. Pernelle Carron/Lloyd Jones (France) 55.85 Q 1

1. Siobhan Heekin-Canedy/Dmitri Dun (Ukraine) 53.58 Q

12. Alisa Agafonova/Alper Ucar (Turkey) 50.79 Q

13. Lucie Mysliveckova/Neil Brown (Czech Republic) 50.52 Q

14. Irina Shtork/Taavi Rand (Estonia) 50.51 Q

15. Sara Hurtado/Adria Diaz (Spain) 49.32 Q

16. Zsuzsanna Nagy/Mate Fejes (Hungary) 48.48 Q

17. Ramona Elsener/Florian Roost (Switzerland) 45.09 Q

18. Angelina Telegina/Otar Japaridze (Georgia) 44.94 Q

19. Federica Testa/Lukas Csolley (Slovakia) 44.83 Q

20. Olesia Karmi/Max Lindholm (Finland) 44.29 Q

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