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Russian pair capture figure skating world title

LONDON, Canada (AFP) –

Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov of Russia compete, March 15, 2013 in Canada

Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov of Russia compete for Russia during the Pairs Free Skating event at the 2013 World Figure Skating Championships March 15, 2013 in London, Ontario, Canada.

Russians Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov, twice runners-up at the World Figure Skating Championships, added a world title to their collection by winning Friday’s free skate final.

A brilliant final performance by the Russian duo, who also won the short programme, left challengers in the dust and gave Volosozhar and Trankov their long-sought crown after settling for second place each of the past two years.

The Russians were expected to face a head-to-head match with the four-time and reigning world champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy.

But a series of major errors on the Germans’ part left them an unprecedented 20 points behind the winners.

Volosozhar and Trankov finished with combined judges’ scores of 225.71 points while Savchenko and Szolkowy were second overall on 205.56. Canada’s Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford were third on 204.56.

The Russian duo took the free skate with 149.87 points with Savchenko and Szolkowy second on 132.09 and the Canadian duo third on 130.95.

Volosozhar and Trankov’s artistically sophisticated performance, set to Violin Muse, was punctuated by flawless lifts, spins and throws and their trademark — a soaring triple twist.

The only miscue came after Trankov tripped and fell onto his knees after launching Volosozhar into a successful throw triple loop.

The judges’ decision to lift the German duo into second elicited boos from the home-country crowd as they overtook the Canadian couple.

Savchenko and Szolkowy inched into second on the strength of significantly superior component scores.

But they had big problems on the technical side, turning each of their three planned triple jumps into doubles and Szolkowy fell on one of them.

In a surprise move, the Germans concluded their “Bolero” routine with a rare throw-triple Axel which Savchenko turned completely but landed on two feet.

The Canadians made no major errors although they did run out of steam and slowed visibly in performing their final two elements.

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

Thanks to their strong showings, the Canadians and the Russians succeeded in earning the maximum three Olympic team spots for pairs from their countries.

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