TURIN, Italy -- Defending ice dance champions Tatiana Navka and Roman Kostomarov of Russia held a comfortable lead at the European championships after an energetic performance Thursday to "Sing, Sing, Sing."
After two out of three segments, the Russians had a total of 107.81 points under the new scoring system, which is being used for the first time in the Europeans.
The world champions skated confidently in the original dance Thursday despite a few moments out of sync in a stepwork sequence.
Ukraine's Elena Grushina and Ruslan Goncharov were in second place with 102.4 points. Galit Chait and Sergei Sakhnovski of Israel were next with 98.99 points.
Bulgaria's Albena Denkova and Maxim Staviski, the only couple to beat the Russians over the last two years, slipped into fourth place with 98 points. Denkova has had a severe cough throughout the championships.
"Albena is doing very bad today," her partner said, adding that he was unsure she would make it to the ice for the free
Figure skating's new scoring format, brought in after the pairs judging scandal at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, was officially adopted by the International Skating Union last June.
Judges gave two scores under the old 6.0 system, one for technical merit and one for artistry. The new system forces them to tally up separate scores for each element, such as jumps, spins and