Sokolova, Navka-Kostomarov win at Russian nationals

World champions Tatiana Navka and Roman Kostomarov won the ice dancing title at the Russian national &to=' target=_blank>figure skating championships Wednesday, enhancing their reputation as the country's best hope for an Olympic crown.

This year's championships in Kazan were weakened by the withdrawal of some of Russia's top skaters.

Women's world champion Irina Slutskaya pulled out because of flu, and pairs world title holders Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin dropped out because Totmianina complained of pain in her side, which doctors attributed to gallbladder problems.

Evgeny Plushenko won the men's competition, with Ilya Klimkin taking second place and Sergei Dobrin third.

Maria Petrova and Alexei Tikhonov took the pairs, beating out Yulia Obertas and Sergei Slavnov. Maria Mukhortova and Maxim Trankov were third.

Elena Sokolova won the women's competition on Tuesday. Viktoria Volchkova, who has been absent from competition in recent months because of injury, took second.

Besides Navka and Kostomarov, Slutskaya, Plushenko and Totmianina-Kostomarov also are considered strong contenders for medals in Turin, Italy.

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