DORTMUND, West Germany -- East Germany's Sabine Baess and Tassilo Thierbach comfortably retained their pairs skating title Wednesday at the European Figure Skating Championships in the Westfalenhalle.
The East Germans, who were sixth in the 1980 Winter Olympics, added victory in the free skating program to their first place in the short program to take the title with 1.4 points.
Second place went to Soviet pair Elena Valova and Oleg Vasiliev, who were second in the free skating to total 3.6, with another East German pair, Birgit Lorenz and Knut Schubert, taking third place on the night to move up to third overall with 3.8.
Baess and Thierbach once again demonstrated their technical accuracy, and certainly were the quickest pair on the ice, but it was clear to the 4,300 spectators that their program lacked the polish and the complexity of the performance that earned them the title in Lyon, France, last year.
For interpretation, harmony and technical achievement, they were outshone by Valova and Vasiliev, whose quality was not reflected in their marks. The young Soviet pair earned the only 5.9 score of the evening, awarded to them by French judge Alain Calmat, the former European Champion, for artistic impression. But they were marked curiously low by the East German and Czechoslovak judges, who gave them only 5.5 and 5.6.
Earlier, East Germany took a step towards another title when 17-year-old Katarina Witt outclassed her opponents to win the short program, the second section of the women's event.
Witt, second in the Europeans and the Worlds last year, executed the seven required technical elements perfectly and elegantly, fitting her exercise expertly to the music of Mozart.
With 1.6 points, Witt moved ahead of the compulsories winner Elena Vodoresova of the Soviet Union, who has 1.8 points. West Germany's Manuela Ruben has 6.0 points in third place.