Virtue, Moir lead dance; Pang, Tong top pairs
Davis, White trail Canadians by less than one point
|Qing Pang and Jian Tong lead after the pairs short program in Torino. (Getty Images)|
Virtue/Moir (CAN) take lead in compulsory dance
Olympic Champions Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir of Canada took the lead in the compulsory dance -- the Golden Waltz -- ahead of Meryl Davis/Charlie White (USA) and Italy's Federica Faiella/Massimo Scali.
Virtue/Moir gave a fluid and elegant performance of the Golden Waltz and posted a new season's best score of 44.13 points.
"It felt strong. We were excited to get out there, maybe the last time having to skate this," Virtue said referring to the possible elimination of compulsory dances in the future.
The couple felt very motivated to come to the world championships. "We've never gotten a world title, so it's something we've been planning on. We've expected it to be a huge crash after the Olympics, but we've done two weeks of great training after that and it's not hard to stay motivated when you're training with Meryl [Davis] and Charlie [White]," Virtue explained.
"We're excited to be at another World Championships. It's a huge competition. It was great for us to get back and to be able to push ourselves just a little bit further. We've come a long way in two weeks, so we're excited to show that," Moir added.
Olympic silver medalists Davis/White looked confident in their Golden Waltz as well and scored 43.25 points, which also was a seasons best.
"It was a really confident performance for us. Before we went out, [coaches] Marina [Zoueva] and Igor [Shpilband] were both just saying, we're really well trained on this dance, so just go out and enjoy performing it and that was what we were trying to do," Davis commented.
"We've put a lot of work into our compulsories this year to really step it up. Conceivably this will be the last year of compulsories, so we really wanted to make it count and that definitely showed tonight," White said.
Faiella/Scali skated last out of the 27 couples and to the delight of the home crowd, placed third with a strong compulsory dance that earned them a season best of 40.85 points.
"We felt even more pressure, because probably it is the last compulsory dance in the history of international events, but we did a good job and doing that in Italy is fantastic," Scali told the press. "We have a very good condition and we enjoy every step we made on the ice as it should be when you dance. It was important to begin strongly and the third place with our personal best is a perfect start," he continued.
Nathalie Pechalat/Fabian Bourzat (FRA) came fourth at 37.75 points. European bronze medalists Jana Khokhlova/Sergei Novitski are currently ranked fifth with 37.70 points and Sinead Kerr/John Kerr (GBR) is standing in sixth place (37.56 points).
Pang/Tong win Pairs short program
Olympic silver medalists Qing Pang/Jian Tong of China won the pairs short program with Russia's Yuko Kavaguti/Alexander Smirnov and Germany's Aliona Savchenko/Robin Szolkowy following in second and third.
Pang/Tong delivered a flawless performance of their lyrical routine to "The Pearlfishers" by Georges Bizet. The program was highlighted by a solid side by side triple toe loop, a big throw triple loop, a triple twist and a rarely seen Level 4 step sequence. Only the pair combination spin was graded a Level 1. Pang/Tong posted a personal best score of 75.28 points (41.28/34.00) to take the lead.
"Tonight we are very happy to have achieved a new season's best score. We skated better than at the Olympic Games. At the Olympic Games, everybody felt a little nervous, we were more confident here. All the elements felt a little better. We hope to skate as well tomorrow," Tong said.
Performing to "The Swan" by Camille Saint-Saens, Kavaguti/Smirnov hit a triple toe, a triple twist, a throw triple loop and picked up a Level 4 for the death spiral and the two spins. They scored 73.12 points (29.68/33.44).
"It has been difficult to be here after the Olympic Games, but we are happy to come to Turin for the World Championships," Kavaguti commented. "We are very satisfied with our performance tonight and we work hard to achieve the best result. I really enjoyed skating for the audience."
Savchenko/Szolkowy opened their romantic routine set to "Send in the Clowns" with a high throw triple flip, but then he doubled the toe loop. The two-time and reigning world champions rallied back to complete a triple twist and difficult spins and a lift that all garnered a Level 4. The Germans earned 69.52 points (36.12/33.40).
"I made a mistake and now it's hard to find something positive about our performance. I did a double toe instead of a triple toe and I'm so disappointed. I felt strong, I didn't have shaky legs. I don't know why it happened," Szolkowy told the press.
"Of course, we came here to win and I hope we'll have a chance to win tomorrow. However, the most important thing is to skate well," he added.
Maria Mukhortova/Maxim Trankov (RUS) came fourth with a clean performance. At 69.48 points, they are within striking distance of the podium. Dan Zhang/Hao Zhang (CHN) is just 0.28 points behind in fifth with 69.20 points. They reigning World silver medalists turned in a strong program as well.