The ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2012 officially opened in Nice, France, Wednesday with the Pairs Short Program and the Short Dance.
Aliona Savchenko/Robin Szolkowy (GER) grab lead in Pairs Short Program
Aliona Savchenko/Robin Szolkowy of Germany grabbed the lead in the Pairs Short Program. China's Qing Pang/Jian Tong finished second while Narumi Takahashi/Mervin Tran of Japan are currently sitting in third.
Savchenko/Szolkowy opened their routine to Angels and Demons with a rarely seen throw triple Axel, but she two-footed. They three-time and reigning World Champions completed a triple twist and picked up a level four for the pair combination spin, the death spiral, footwork and lift, but Szolkowy stumbled on the side by side triple toe. The Germans scored 68.63 points. We are happy to be here after a long break (from competition). I am quite pleased with the performance but it wasn't a 100 percent yet, Savchenko commented.
Pang/Tong's program to Nocturne by Frederic Chopin featured a triple twist, throw triple loop and four level-four elements as well, but he under rotated and stepped out of the triple toe. The two-time World Champions earned 67.10 points. It was quite okay. After not competing internationally all year we were quite nervous. The couples from Germany and Russia are very strong and we have to show our very best in the free skating, Pang said. We had some injuries and needed time to rest, but now we are ready to compete again, Tong explained when asked about not competing in the Grand Prix series and the ISU Four Continents Championships.
Takahashi/Tran delivered a clean performance to Imagine by The Beatles, hitting a side by side triple Salchow, triple twist and throw triple Salchow to post a new seasons best of 65.37 points. We scored a seasons best and it was a very good performance. We challenged everything that we were supposed to do. We gave a clean performance at the most important time, Takahashi told the press.
Vera Bazarova/Yuri Larionov of Russia finished fourth at 65.02 points. They landed a triple twist and throw triple twist, but he also stumbled on the triple toe. Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford (CAN) came fifth with 63.60 points and Four Continents Champions Wenjing Sui/Cong Han (CHN) round up the top six (63.27 points). European Champions Tatiana Volosozhar/Maxim Trankov (RUS) disappointed. They finished in eighth place after both fell on the death spiral (60.48 points).
Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir (CAN) dance to the lead
Canada's Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir dance to the lead in the Short Dance. Meryl Davis/Charlie White (USA) and Nathalie Pechalat/Fabian Bourzat of France follow in second and third.
Virtue/Moir put out a strong performance to Samba, Rhumba and Samba that was highlighted by a fast twizzles, a circular step sequence and a rotational lift. The Olympic Champions earned a level for for the twizzles and the lift while the two Rhumba patterns and the circular steps merited a level three. Virtue/Moir scored 72.31 points. We were concerned about the levels, but now we are just happy about our performance. We feel very strong and much more confident now for the free dance, Virtue commented. We do have big rivals with Meryl (Davis) and Charlie (White). We are happy with our score and now we are just excited about the free dance, this is our program, Moir noted.
Davis/White's upbeat dance to Samba, Rhumba and Samba featured excellent twizzles (level four), a level-four curve lift and level-three circular footwork. The Rhumba patterns were graded a level three as well. The reigning World Champions collected 70.98 points. It felt fantastic out there - the best short dance we've skated all season - but we got three level threes, which was disheartening, simply because we felt we nailed our edges and everything. We love our free dance. We're very excited to take the energy we put out there today and continue it into tomorrow. It's a fantastic crowd and they are really behind us. Our training has prepared us for this moment. We're really looking forward to getting out there, White said. We want to go out and skate with the same amount of attack, energy, and excitement that we had today and hopefully nail those levels, Davis offered.
Pechalat/Bourzat had drawn to skate last out of the 25 couples and ended the day on a high note with their dynamic Samba program. The European Champions produced two level-four Rhumba sequences, a curve lift and smooth footwork to score 69.13 points. It was crazy, we skated last and we didn't know how our competitors had skated, but we knew it was up to us to do our job. We are relieved. And we never came as close to the top two as now. This gives us hope for tomorrow, Pechalat said. We wanted to show our very best, to put out a technically strong short dance. We'll see what happens tomorrow. The free dance is our best program and we feel very confident with it, with the story, with our costume. We'll try to go for more than third place, added Bourzat.
Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje (CAN) came fourth at 66.47 points with a strong performance to Rhumba and Samba. Elena Ilinykh/Nikita Katsalapov (RUS) placed fifth with 65.34 points and Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte (ITA) are currently ranked sixth at 65.11 points.
The ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2012 continue Thursday with the Ladies Short Program and the Free Dance.