Kolyada and Samarin lead Euro ice king Fernandez

Minsk (AFP) –


Russia's Mikhail Kolyada swept into the lead after the men's short programme at the European figure skating championships on Thursday with danger man and six-time defending champion Javier Fernandez over eight points behind in third.

The 24-year-old Kolyada, third at last year's European championships, earned a personal best mark of 100.49 points for an almost flawless presentation of his "I Belong to You - Mon Coeur s'ouvre a ta voix" by Muse in his short routine on the ice at a packed Minsk 15,000-seat arena.

"It was a good performance," Kolyada told Russian TV. "Naturally there were some slight mistakes but I'm pleased with what I've done today.

"I'd say that now, when I overcame all of my injuries, I'm in a fighting mood. And I'll try to keep it until Saturday's free skating."

Alexander Samarin, who was sixth at last year's Euros, also got his personal best mark of 91.97 for his "Cold Blood" by Dave Not Dave.

He was just 0.13pts ahead of Spanish veteran Fernandez, who announced his decision to hang up his skates this season.

The 27-year-old 2018 Olympic bronze medallist and two-time world champion, who is targeting his seventh successive continental crown to equal the record of Russia's skating icon Yevgeny Plushenko, committed some costly mistakes in his "Malaguena" short programme that left him with work to do ahead of Saturday's free skating final.

The pairs will decide the new European champion after their free programme later on Thursday.