Papadakis, Cizeron trail at European Figure Skating Championship

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Bratislava (AFP)

World and European champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France were trailing in second after the short dance at the European figure skating championship on Thursday.

Italy's Anna Capellini and Luca Lanotte, the world and European champions in 2014, waltzed their way into the lead with 72.31 points, with the French 1.57 points behind the leaders going into Saturday's free dance final.

Papadakis and Cizeron are competing in their first international competition this season after 20-year-old Papadakis suffered concussion in a training fall last August.

In their absence Cappellini and Lanotte, last year's European silver medallists, won the Grand Prix Final title.

"We were ready and we're happy with our performance even if we had hoped for better scores," said 21-year-old Cizeron.

"Even if we started our season late we managed to catch up.

"In general we're not often first after the 'short' (programme). We feel comfortable with this place and we'll do our best (in the free programme)."

Spain's three-time defending champion Javier Fernandez is leading the men's event going into Thursday night's free skating final.

The 24-year-old world champion scored a career high 102.54 points in the short programme on Wednesday and leads Russia's Maxim Kovtun by 14.45 points with Michal Brezina of the Czech Republic third.