The ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2012 opened in Nice, France, Monday with the Preliminary Rounds for Pairs and Ice Dance.

Wenjing Sui/Cong Han (CHN) capture Pairs Preliminary Round

China's Wenjing Sui/Cong Han captured the Pairs Preliminary Round followed by Vanessa James/Morgan Cipres of France and Germany's Mari Vartmann/Aaron van Cleave. 11 couples competed in the Preliminary Round and eight qualified for the Pairs Short Program taking place on Wednesday.

Sui/Han put out a solid performance to a Flamenco medley, landing a quadruple twist, a throw triple Salchow and throw triple flip, but she fell on an underrotated side by side triple toe. The reigning Four Continents Champions scored 116.57 points. We were a little nervous because we are competing in our first World Championship. This is a big senior event. Maybe nerves played a role there, Sui said, referring to the fall. It was a little hard, as we had one training yesterday and competition today, it is only our second day here, Han commented. He felt that competing in the Preliminary Round was a good practice for them.

Skating to Nostalgia by Yanni, James/Cipres produced a double twist, throw triple loop and side by side double Axel. However, James put down her hand on the side by side triple toe. The French earned 96.48 points. I'm happy about this performance and now I'd like to progress and improve (in the next round), fix what I didn't do (in this Preliminary Round). If we skate clean programs we have a chance to be top 10 and that is our goal here, James told the press.

Vartmann/van Cleave's routine to The Holiday soundtrack included a double twist and throw triple Salchow, but she fell on the throw triple loop. The couple picked up 90.68 points. After Europeans, we were concentrating on our technique. Here, we want to skate as well as we did at Europeans, simply show what we can do in training. Unfortunately, we didn't do that today, Vartmann noted.

Elena Ilinykh/Nikita Katsalapov (RUS) win Ice Dance Preliminary Round

Elena Ilinykh/Nikita Katsalapov of Russia won the Ice Dance Preliminary Round. China's Xintong Huang/Xun Zheng came second and Irina Shtork/Taavi Rand of Estonia finished third. 23 dance couples competed in the Preliminary Round and 10 qualified for the Short Dance taking place on Wednesday.

Ilinykh/Katsalapov delivered a solid performance of their Ave Maria free dance. The reigning European bronze medalists picked up a level four for the three lifts and the twizzles while the circular footwork and the combination spin were graded a level three. The Muscovites earned 92.40 points. We skated quite well, but it was just the qualifying round. It was more like a practice run-through for us. We put the accent on the elements. We found out after Europeans that we have to do the qualifying round, but I think it is useful for us, Katsalapov explained.

Dancing to a Tango medley, Huang/Zheng picked up a level four for four out of the seven elements. However, Huang wobbled on the twizzles. The Chinese scored 79.69 points. I made a mistake on the twizzles at the beginning of the program but the rest of the performance went well and we are satisfied with it, Huang said. Competing in the Preliminaries is a little tiring, but on the other hand it helps us for the next parts of the competition, her partner added.

Shtork/Rand's dance to The Story of Mikhail Strogoff featured four level-four lifts and a level-four spin. The Estonian Champions collected 79.17 points. We skated well, completed all the elements. Plus we improved our personal best, so we are really satisfied, Shtork commented. It was a really hard season for us. I have counted, that we've had eight competitions. It's really difficult to compete both at the junior and senior level, especially now, when the programs are so different. Yes, the season was hard, but we have to keep it up and do our best till the end, Rand noted.

Anna Nagornyuk/Viktor Kovalenko (UZB) arrived straight from the airport just ten minutes before they had to compete in the Ice Dance Preliminary Round and finished in 9th place. Kovalenko commented Anna received her French visa on the 19th but I for some reason got it only this morning. We flew out of Moscow at 13.30 but we missed our connection in Munich.