Javier Fernandez claimed the European title for the fourth successive Championships ©Getty Images

Spain’s Javier Fernandez earned his fourth successive men’s title at the International Skating Union (ISU) European Figure Skating Championships after outclassing the competition at the Ondrej Nepela Arena in Bratislava.

The reigning world champion began the free skating event with a 16-point advantage over nearest rival, Russia'sMaxim Kovtun, meaning only a nightmare performance would prevent him from topping the podium.

Fernandez set his sights on becoming on the second man ever to break the 300 point barrier, with Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan having managed the feat to beat the Spaniard to gold at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Barcelona last month.

He proved able to achieve his  aim, beig awarded a total of 200.23 points by the judges for his free skate, giving him an personal best overall total of 302.77, surpassing his previous effort of 292.95.

With Fernandez having comfortable sealed gold, Kovtun was aiming to assure himself of the silver medal but struggled during the start of his routine and ended with a score of 154.12 point.

It was only the sixth best free skate but his overall score of 242.21 was enough to secure him bronze.

Israel’s Alexei Bychenko, who began the day in fourth position, scored 158.47 points to end the full competition on 242.56, narrowly earning him the silver medal ahead of Kovtun.

Italy’s Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte are leading the ice dance competition at the halfway stage of the event
Italy’s Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte are leading the ice dance competition at the halfway stage of the event ©Getty Images

In the ice dance short programme Italy’s Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte, European champions in 2014, began with an excellent routine to lead at the half-way mark on a score of 72.31 points.

The pair had been forced to settle for the silver medal at the 2015 Championships in Stockholm, French pairing of Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron having triumphed on that occasion.

Both pairings look likely to contest the gold medal again.

World champions Papadakis and Cizeron are currently lying second with 70.74 points.

Russia’s Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev are sitting in third position on 68.71.

Their compatriots Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov sit outside the medals having scored 68.33.

The free dance is due to take place on Saturday (January 30).