European and Olympic champion Alina Zagitova of Russia won the women's short event at the ISU European Figure Skating Championships in Minsk ©ISU

Defending and Olympic champion Alina Zagitova of Russia is leading the women's International Skating Union (ISU) European Figure Skating Championships after she won the short event today in Minsk.

Zagitova performed her routine to The Phantom of the Opera, producing a double Axel, triple flip and level-four spins and footwork to score 75.00 points at the Minsk Arena in the Belarusian capital. 

"I was very focused and I held back my emotions and I will do that until the free skating," the 16-year-old said.

"There were a few small errors. 

"I need to be confident in myself." 

Zagitova finished a disappointing fifth at the Russian Championships in December.

"I'm like - if something doesn't go so well, I'll start the new year fresh and I leave everything that was bad behind in the old year," she added.

"That's what I did. 

"I only take the good things with me."

The women's free skating event will take place on January 25. 

Zagitova's compatriot Sofia Samodurova finished in second today with a personal best of 72.88 points, while Switzerland's Alexia Paganini also achieved a personal best of 65.64 to come third.

ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final victors Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres lead the pairs competition after winning the short event for France with a score of 76.55.

Reigning European champions Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov of Russia finished in second with 73.90 points, while Italy's Nicole Della Monica and Matteo Guarise were third with 73.70.

Action will continue tomorrow with the men's short competition and the pairs free skating event. 

Javier Fernandez will be looking to win his seventh European title in the men's event, with the Spaniard retiring following the end of the Championships.