Belgium's Hendrickx and Pinzarrone lead charge for gold at European Figure Skating Championships

Belgian skaters Loena Hendrickx and Nina Pinzarrone were in first and second place respectively after the women's short programme at the European Figure Skating Championships in Kaunas, Lithuania, on Thursday afternoon.

Hendrickx was head and shoulders above the competition in the short programme, scoring 74.66 points after a flawless routine. Her closest rival was 17-year-old compatriot Pinzarrone, who finished second with a personal record of 69.70 points. In Jade Hovine, Belgium has a third skater in contention for Saturday's freestyle.

After the short programme, Hovine was in 22nd place with 51.32 points and thus also qualified for the free skating. "This is after I was sick in bed all last week," she told Flemish public broadcaster VRT. Defending champion Anastasia Gubanova from Georgia came third with 68.96 points.

Hendrickx was the big favourite going into the competition. After the final training session, her brother and coach Jorik said that anything less than gold would be a disappointment.

The skater from Turnhout got off to an excellent start, completing her short freestyle programme without any major mistakes. With a score of 74.66, she is 1.5 points below her personal record, which she set at the European Championships a year ago.


Belgium's Loena Hendrickx © PHOTO DANIEL MIHAILESCU / AFP

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