Switzerland's Stéphane Lambiel has failed to retain his world skating championship title, winning the bronze medal at Thursday's event in Japan.This content was published on March 22, 2007 - 12:38
Brian Joubert of France won gold ahead of Japan's Daisuke Takahashi.
Lambiel, twice world champion and Olympic silver medallist, managed to improve on his sixth place after the short event on Wednesday.
He did one quad in a combination on Thursday but nearly fell attempting a second in a flamenco-inspired routine to finish with 233.35, and second in free skating.
In January he withdrew from the European championships because of lack of motivation.
"The energy made the difference. This is the real Stéphane Lambiel tonight," Lambiel said after the competition.
Despite his small mistakes in the free skating Lambiel raised both hands at the end of his routine with a huge grin on his face.
For artistic merit he received the top marks, and his 160.65 was only 0.25 shy of his record performance at the World Championships in Calgary last year.
However it was asking too much for Lambiel to make a winning comeback after his disappointing sixth place on Wednesday - when he fell to the ice on his first attempt at a quad - and Brian Joubert became the first Frenchman in 42 years to win the world title.
Although third in the free skating, Joubert had a large lead after the short programme. His total score of 240.85 was good enough to win the title after European victories in 2004 and 2007 and kept him unbeaten this season in six major competitions.
Daisuke Takahashi, buoyed by the home crowd, won the free skating with a dramatic skate to "Phantom of the Opera" that had a quad and eight triples and was second overall with 237.95. He cried as he bowed to the audience.
The other Swiss in competition, Jamel Othman, came 18th.
Although Lambiel came top on artistic merit, his coach, Peter Grütter, said the marks were "scandalous".
He said he could not understand why the judges hadn't given more weight to the artistic expression of Lambiel, whom observers had unanimously praised as by far the best in that area.
"The differences in the marks for the various artistic elements don't vary by more than a tenth of a point from one skater to another. If that's the case it's barely worth having marks for artistic merit," Grütter said.
He admitted that skaters should be marked down for not landing jumps – as Lambiel had in his short programme the previous day – but he believed that a skater's good technique should be justly rewarded, which he said had not been the case for Lambiel on Thursday.
"I'm going to ask for an explanation from the judges," said Grütter. "I really don't understand these marks."
However he admitted: "We still haven't seen the real Stéphane Lambiel, but he will be back."
swissinfo with agencies
Stéphane Lambiel was born on April 2, 1985 in Martigny, western Switzerland. He now lives in Lausanne.
Lambiel, who is coached by Peter Grütter, has postponed going to university to work on his skating career. He has also launched his own collection of watches, Spinmaster.
His major titles include silver at the Olympic Games in Turin, 2006 and the World Championships in Moscow in 2005 and Calgary in 2006. He is also seven times Swiss champion (2001-2007).
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