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Savchenko, Szolkowy take slim lead in Paris

Russians are a strong second; Zhang, Toth fifth

Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy take a narrow lead into the free skate.
Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy take a narrow lead into the free skate. (Getty Images)

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By icenetwork.com
(11/26/2010) - Despite a few stumbles, German Olympic bronze medalists Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy won the short program in Paris today, opening a slim 2.47-point lead over Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov of Russia.

At Skate America, the Germans -- slowed by jet lag and a rough trip through U.S. customs -- doubled their side-by-side triple toe loops and were also less-than-perfect today. Skating to the Russian-Hungarian folk dance "Korobushko," they opened with a huge throw triple flip, but Savchenko stepped out of the landing of her triple toe. Later in the program, Szolkowy stumbled on some footwork. Strong program components scores (PCS) helped the two-time World champions to the win with 66.65 points.

Bazarova and Larionov, who won Nebelhorn Trophy and took silver at NHK Trophy earlier this season, continued their good form with a superb short to music from Secret Garden. The Russian bronze medalists landed side-by-side triple toes plus a strong triple twist and throw triple flip to earn 64.18, well above their score at NHK.

In all likelihood, Savchenko and Szolkowy will qualify for a trip to the Grand Prix Final in Beijing next month. Last season, they placed third at the Final behind Chinese rivals Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao, now retired, and world champions Qing Pang and Jian Tong. A silver medal here would qualify Bazarova and Larionov for the Final for the first time.

Another German couple, Maylin Hausch and Daniel Wende, skated a solid short to take third with 54.02. The rest of the seven-pair field is far behind.

U.S. junior champions Felicia Zhang and Taylor Toth lost technical points in their short to Debussy's "Clair de Lune" when Zhang, a strong singles' skater who competed on the Junior Grand Prix, had an uncharacteristic error entering her triple toe loop, slipping off an edge and failing to attempt the jump. They earned 40.93 and are fifth entering tomorrow's free skate.