Kostner tells rival skaters to ‘be ready’

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Kostner tells rival skaters to ‘be ready’

TALLINN - Italy’s Carolina Kostner warned her Asian rivals that she does not fear them as she claimed her third women’s title at the European figure-skating championships here.

The 22-year-old insisted that she has now found the confidence to challenge the likes of South Korea’s Kim Yu-na and Japanese stars Mao Asada and Miki Ando in Vancouver.

“It was the hardest one for me,” said the 2007 and 2008 champion of her third continental title.

“This competition felt like a liberation for me, and I enjoyed skating.”

Despite falling during her four-minute routine, Kostner credits her new-found confidence to her move to California, where she now trains.

“I was looking for new ideas and inspiration,” she said. “I’ve found a new place and feel very happy. The training group is so strong. We have fun together but we also work very hard.”

After finishing second in the nationals, Kostner just barely secured her Olympic berth in Tallinn.

But Saturday’s free skate to Bach’s “Air” and Vivaldi’s “Violin Concerto” was far from solid. She opened her routine strongly with a triple flip-triple toe loop combination, but landed just four clean triple jumps.

Her leading rivals also made mistakes, allowing last year’s silver medalist to claim the gold ahead of defending champion Laura Lepisto of Finland and Georgia’s Elene Gedevanishvili.

“Sometimes you forget how difficult it is to skate for the audience and the media and in front of the judges. It was really good training for my head,” said the 2008 world silver medalist.

Kostner also said she has put behind her the disappointment she felt after Turin four years ago, when she finished just ninth while carrying the hopes of the Olympic host nation on her shoulders.

“A lot of water has gone under the bridge since the last Olympic Games,” she said. “I now basically want to find the performance for myself that I see in my head. I think I have nothing to fear in Vancouver.

“I think we from Europe are ready to fight the Japanese, Koreans and the Americans. Just be ready!”AFP

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