The 2012 ISU European Figure Skating Championships officially opened in Sheffield, Great Britain, on Wednesday with the Pairs Short Program and the Short Dance.

Volosozhar/Trankov (RUS) take lead in Pairs Short Program

Tatiana Volosozhar/Maxim Trankov led a Russian sweep in the Pairs Short Program. Vera Bazarova/Yuri Larionov came second ahead of Ksenia Stolbova/Fedor Klimov.

Volosozhar/Trankov opened their routine to Bring Me Back to Life by Evanescence with a huge triple twist followed by a side by side triple toe. However, Volosozhar put down both hands on the throw triple flip. The World silver medallists picked up a level four for the spins, footwork, lift and death spiral to post a new seasons best of 72.80 points. We are pleased with the score, but I am not completely satisfied with my throw triple flip, I made an error. Overall it was an okay skate, Volosozhar commented. It was like a practice run-through, we can do much better and hopefully we'll get more points at the World Championships because we skated with errors today, her partner added.

Bazarova/Larionov, who skated last out of the 18 couples, gave a solid performance to Tosca that was highlighted by a triple toe, triple twist and throw triple flip. They scored 66.89 points. Unfortunately I had a little error on the jump (triple toe) today, it was a little scratchy. We won't relax now, there is another day to come, Larionov said.

Stolbova/Klimov produced a double twist, throw triple flip and triple toe in their routine to a modern arrangement of Bolero. They earned a seasons best of 58.66 points. That was probably the best performance of the season, we are very happy with it. Obviously we were a little nervous, but not more than at other competitions. It is harder to compete here than in Juniors. There are stronger rivals and the programs are harder, but basically a competition is a competition and there are always rivals and we try to focus each time in the same way, Klimov told the press.

Stefania Berton/Ondrej Hotarek (ITA) are currently ranked fourth at 54.38 points. He fell in the footwork. Maylin Hausch/Daniel Wende (GER) placed fifth (54.03 points).

Defending Champions Aliona Savchenko/Robin Szolkowy (GER) withdrew from the competition following the morning practice, citing injury.

Ekaterina Bobrova/Dmitri Soloviev (RUS) capture Short Dance

Russia's Ekaterina Bobrova/Dmitri Soloviev captured the lead in the Short Dance ahead of defending European Champions Nathalie Pechalat/Fabian Bourzat of France and Ekaterina Riazanova/Ilia Tkachenko of Russia.

Bobrova/Soloviev put out a confident performance to Samba, Rhumba and Samba that included a level-four twizzles and a level-four lift. The Rhumba sequences and the side by side circular footwork were graded a level three. The reigning European silver medallists picked up 65.06 points, just short of their seasons best. Being in first place is a big success for us. We are very happy with the way we performed today. Tomorrow we'll rest a little and then we'll fight again (in the Free Dance), Soloviev told the press conference. The score is just a little lower than our seasons best, and it is much higher than at the Grand Prix Final and the Rostelecom Cup, so we are pleased with it, Bobrova noted.

Pechalat/Bourzat's lively Samba was highlighted by a level-four curve lift and difficult twizzles. Their side by side footwork and the Rhumba looked smooth, but garnered a level two and three only. The European Champions scored 64.89 points. We don't feel pressure. Sometimes it is better to be the challenger than the leader and maybe it is good for us to be in second place, very close to the first place. We won't let our title go. We need to skate and fight (in the Free Dance), stated Pechalat. We thought we showed a good performance, tried to entertain the audience and gave a lot of energy, maybe too much energy for paying attention to all the edges, Bourzat said.

Riazanova/Tkachenko received a level four and three for the Rhumba sequences and a level four for the twizzles and curve lift in their dance to Rhumba and Salsa to collect a seasons best with 61.34 points. (Being in third) is very surprising for us and we are very happy with this success, Tkachenko commented. After Nationals we worked hard on the Rhumba and the footwork, maybe therefore we got a level four and three now. We didn't do anything special and we didn't make any changes, he continued.

Penny Coomes/Nicholas Buckland (GBR) came in fourth with a strong performance (59.78 points), just ahead of Isabella Tobias/Deividas Stagniunas (LTU) with 59.66 points and Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte (ITA) at 59.62 points.