Javier Fernandez of Spain took a major step towards a third consecutive European men’s figure skating title when he led the standings after the short programme in Stockholm on Wendesday.
Despite a number of errors, Fernandez finished on 89.24 points with Friday’s free programme to come.
That left him well clear of his closest challengers, Sergei Voronov of Russia, who was second on 81.06 points, and Michal Brezina of the Czech Republic with 80.86.
Last year’s runner-up Voronov, 27, had been strongly tipped to push Fernandez all the way, despite the Spaniard, a two-time world bronze medallist, coming to the Swedish capital after finishing runner-up at the Grand Prix final.
His participation had been in doubt after a painful foot interrupted his training programme, but he declared himself “100 percent” before his journey to Sweden.
The 23-year-old is aiming to become the first skater to win three straight men’s titles since Alexander Fadeev, skating for the former Soviet Union from 1987 to 1989.