Figure Skating - Volosozhar and Trankov make strong start in Zagreb

Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov followed the example set by their Russian compatriots to get the defence of their pairs title up and running at the European Figure Skating Championships in Zagreb.

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Figure Skating - Volosozhar and Trankov make strong start in Zagreb
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Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov of Russia perform during the pairs short program at the European Figure Skating Championships in Zagreb January 23, 2013 (Reuters)

Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev got the Russian team off to the perfect start on day one in Croatia, setting a personal best short dance score to lead the ice dance competition. And Volsozhar and Trankov, who won the European title for the first time last year, followed suit in the pairs short program, although they didn’t quite manage a personal best. The Russian duo scored 73.23 for their routine, just 1.51 shy of the best mark they set on home soil at the Rostelecom Cup last year, which they won at the first time of asking. That mark gives them a lead of just over three points ahead of four-time German world champions, two of which have come back-to-back in 2011 and 2012, Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy. They scored 70.21 well clear of Stefania Berton and Ondrej Hotarek of Italy, who were awarded 64.28, with the gold set to be battled out between the Russian and German pairs in the free skate on Thursday. Meanwhile British duo Stacey Kemp and David King, who have been battling knee and ankle injuries respectively, place tenth after being awarded a score of 45.39 for their short program. Kemp openly admits that they are not focused on achieving a career-best finish, which would be anything better than sixth, in Zagreb just simply qualifying for March's World Championships. However they were just 3.97 shy of their personal best in the short program with less than ten points between them in tenth and another German pair Mari Vartmann and Aaron van Cleave in sixth.

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