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Russian duo seizes early pairs lead

LONDON, Canada (AFP) –

Tatiana Volosozhar kisses partner Maxim Trankov while waiting for scores in London, Ontario, Canada, March 13, 2013

Tatiana Volosozhar kisses partner Maxim Trankov while waiting for scores after performing during Pairs Short Program at the 2013 World Figure Skating Championships in London, Ontario, Canada, March 13, 2013. Volosozhar and Trankov were last out of the gate but first in the standings with an assured performance in the pairs short programme to open the ISU World Figure Skating Championships.

Russians Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov were last out of the gate but first in the standings with an assured performance in the pairs short programme to open the ISU World Figure Skating Championships.

But Volosozhar and Trankov, twice world silver medallists, will not be resting on these laurels heading into Friday’s final with five couples in podium position and just over six points separating fifth from first place.

The Russians posted a score of 75.84 ahead of Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford (73.61) who had a stellar showing that brought the crowd to its feet on Wednesday.

Both couples hold a slim advantage over Germany’s four-time world champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy (73.47) who delivered the least convincing performance among the top five.

The Russians, in only their third season together, wowed the crowd with a sky-high triple twist lift to open but her landing on their triple salchow jumps was scratchy.

“We keep working, dance to our music and skate good. We like to send good emotion to the audience and we feel it back. And we didn’t fall this year,” said Trankov, of their performance set to the Love Theme from the film “The Godfather.”

“We got a season’s best and we knew we could have one. We noted that the judges were not holding back with their marks and everybody got a good score.”.

Duhamel reacted with unbridled joy when she and partner Eric Radford finished their superb La Boheme programme which featured difficult individual triple lutz jumps, the only ones in the pairs competition. As the Canadian champions waited for their scores in the kiss-n-cry, Duhamel said, “I felt so amazing. It was so fun.”

Despite that, she also reported feeling sick to her stomach the entire programme, sensing a tightening in her gut ahead of each major programme element which they executed flawlessly.

Szolkowy was not impressed by the judges’ assessment of their performance.

“The points said season’s best, but it was not the best skating for us,” he said, noting their individual jumps had unsteady landings and the spin lacked unison while overall they lacked speed.

“Our main goal is next year in Sochi (to win the Olympics).”

In fourth are a second Russian team, Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov with 69.98 points, a fraction ahead of the second Canadian pair Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch.

At these pre-Olympic championships, competitors are looking to stake early claims to the 2014 Olympic podium and, in the process, help to earn their countries the maximum entries possible for the Sochi Games.

The Canadian and the Russian pairs are now in perfect position to earn the maximum three berths in pairs for their countries.

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