Great success for Czech Republic as Tomáš Verner takes gold at European

25-01-2008

After last year achieving considerable success with silver at the European Figure Skating Championships, the Czech Republic’s Tomáš Verner has gone all the way this time out – on Thursday he won the country’s first men’s gold medal in the competition in 16 years.

Tomáš Verner, photo: CTKTomáš Verner, photo: CTK Tomáš Verner had taken the lead in the short programme at the European Figure Skating Championships in the Croatian city of Zagreb on Wednesday, putting him in pole position to take the title in the two-legged competition.

To the theme music from of the film “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, and wearing a top with Chinese characters to match, Verner pulled off a quadruple toe-loop and seven triples in an almost flawless free skating performance on Thursday. It earned the 21-year-old Czech his highest mark of the season – and a long dreamed of European Championships gold medal. There were wild cheers from the crowd, where groups of fans held Czech flags with the slogan “Tomáš, you’re the best!”

Tomáš Verner, photo: CTKTomáš Verner, photo: CTK A year previously the student from the town of Borovany had made a big splash at the 2007 European Championships, when he celebrated winning a silver medal. But Thursday’s success was of a different order, as Verner pushed the two-time world champion Stephane Lambiel of Switzerland into second place. It is the Czech Republic’s first European men’s title since Petr Brana took gold in Lausanne in 1992.

Tomáš Verner, who first took to the ice at the age of five after developing a crush on a girl skater, will be hoping he can match his European success with a win at the World Championships in April.