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Sebestyen: first Hungarian woman to win title

2/7/2004

BUDAPEST, Hungary -- Julia Sebestyen became the first
Hungarian woman to win the European figure skating title on
Saturday, breaking Russia's hold on this event at the
championships.

Sebestyen, the leader after the short program, finished ahead of
Elena Liashenko of Ukraine. Elena Sokolova of Russia moved up from
sixth to third.

Russian women had taken every title since 1996 and had won 16 of
the last 18 women's medals in the Europeans.

Irina Slutskaya of Russia , the five-time champion and 2002
world champ, has been sidelined with illnesses this season and
might not skate next month at the worlds in Dortmund, Germany.

These championships ended with Russia taking two gold medals --
pairs and ice dance -- with Brian Joubert of France ending another
Russian streak in the men's event.

Sebestyen skated to a tango routine that was not that difficult
-- she did only four clean triples. However, her presentation marks
included five 5.9s, enough for her to win the free skating.

"There was tremendous pressure on me. I knew I would do well
because the others would also do well," Sebestyen said. "And I
tried to concentrate on myself."

Last year she won the bronze at the Europeans but was only 14th
at the world championships.

Liashenko captured the bronze at the Europeans in 1995 but had
not won a medal since.