Shanghai / China
Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford (CAN) skate to lead in Pairs Short Program

Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford of Canada skated to the lead in the Pairs Short Program. China’s Qing Pang/Jian Tong and Weijing Sui/Cong Han came second and third before the final Free Skating on Thursday.

Duhamel/Radford had drawn to skate last out of the 19 couples. Performing to “Un peu plus haut” by Ginette Reno, the reigning ISU Grand Prix Final Champions hit a triple twist, side by side triple Lutz and throw triple Lutz. The two-time World bronze medalists collected a level four for the side by side spin, the lift, footwork and death spiral to set a new personal best with 76.98 points. „We are at one of the biggest competitions of our career and we’re heading into the long program for the very first time in first place. The goal remains the same each time we go out and that’s just keeping everything in a little bubble between me and Meagan. We know we can do our job in the moment, because we’ve done it in training and in past competitions. Having a great skate in the short helps us feel more relaxed and also our scores allow us more freedom. Overall we feel very confident going into tomorrow”, Radford commented.

Pang/Tong’s program to “Moonflower” by Secret Garden featured a triple toe, triple twist, throw triple loop and two level-four elements. The two-time World Champions posted a seasons best of 72.59 points. „We are so happy with our performance. It is a new short program after the Four Continents and we worried about skating on home ice a little bit. We are glad that we nailed everything today and hope to keep it together tomorrow”, Tong said. “We just wanted to give two good performances to the fans before we retire. This World Championship is very precious. The coming back journey was not easy, but we are happy to be here. Today we’ve done one good program and we hope tomorrow we can do another”, Pang added.

Sui/Han completed a side by side triple toe, a throw triple flip, triple twist and earned a level four for the twist, the footwork, spin and death spiral in their program to “Stray Cats Strut”. The two-time Four Continents Champions were rewarded with a seasons best of 71.63 points. „This year we had all our competitions abroad, so it is our first time to compete in China this season. I am so excited about it. The audience encouraged me a lot, so I wanted to do my best to give something back to the audience. The performance today is almost what we do in training. The connection between the audience and us was very strong”, Sui explained. “We showed our best performance on home ice and all the hard work has paid off”, Han noted.

Yuko Kavaguti/Alexander Smirnov (RUS) remain in medal contention in fourth place with 71.59 points. Cheng Peng/Hao Zhang (CHN) are not far behind in fifth either (69.67 points) and Evgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (RUS) round up the top six.

The ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2015 continue Thursday with the Ladies Short Program and Pairs Free Skating.