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Canada's Virtue-Moir win ice dance title at worlds; Russia's Alena Leonova wins short program
NICE, France (AP) ' Olympic ice dance champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada won the world figure skating title Thursday, reversing last year's result by beating defending champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the U.S.
Virtue and Moir captured the worlds and Olympic crown two years ago. This time, they took the free dance after having already finished first in Wednesday's short dance.
Davis and White delivered an inspirational free program that had the crowd on its feet but had to settle for the silver medal. Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat of France won the bronze.
Earlier, Alena Leonova of Russia nailed all of her jumps and won the women's short program. She was followed by Japanese teenager Kanako Murakami and European champion Carolina Kostner of Italy.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
NICE, France (AP) ' Alena Leonova of Russia nailed all her jumps in a pirate outfit and drew a rousing ovation Thursday, capturing the short program at the world championships while the American women were almost certain to not win a medal.
Leonova received a score of 64.61 and was followed by Japanese teenager Kanako Murakami (62.67) and European champion Carolina Kostner of Italy (61).
"I performed my program 100 percent today," Leonova said through a translator. "More than the first place, I'm pleased I completed all my jumps completely. It was my best performance of the season and probably of my life."
Two-time world champion Mao Asada of Japan was fourth after finishing sixth last year. On her triple axel, she fell backward on her landing.
The U.S. women haven't won a medal since 2006 and the streak is likely to keep going after Ashley Wagner finished eighth and Alissa Czisny was 16th and in tears. The free program is Saturday.
"I don't know what happened out there," said Czisny, who fell on her first two jumps and into the arms of her coach afterward. "I'm disappointed. It didn't go quite how I wanted it to. I felt good going into the program."
Wagner soothed her nerves by tapping her thighs before her routine. But, attempting a triple flip-triple toe loop combination, she stumbled backward and almost fell.
Wagner had been excellent heading into the worlds. She won her first national championship and beat Asada at Four Continents.
"It was a really long waiting period (before skating after the warmup period) and that's why I struggled with the triple flip," Wagner said. "But I think I came back extremely strongly considering the level of pressure at this competition."
This is the weakest women's field in a non-Olympic year in a long time. Neither Japan's Miki Ando nor Olympic champion Kim Yu-na of South Korea, last year's gold and silver medalists, is competing. Also not skating are Russia's Adelina Sotnikova, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva and Julia Lipnitskaia ' all too young to take part.
Leonova followed Asada on Friday and got the crowd going with an energetic routine to the punchy rhythm of "Sirens" from the blockbuster film "Pirates of the Caribbean."
She finished with a throat-slitting gesture that would have impressed the most bloodthirsty of pirates, before leaning her head back and taking in the roaring applause as the crowd rose at the Palais des Expositions.
"From the very beginning, when we were putting this program together I was trying to put a lot of emotion into it. Today I landed everything and I am very pleased it came across well," said Leonova, who was fourth at last year's worlds. "I did feel the support of the crowd and I heard them screaming and cheering. There were a lot of Russian fans in the crowd, and it was nice to have that."
Kostner, the bronze medalist last year, felt she could have done better.
"I have mixed feelings about my program," she said. "On the whole it was really, really good. But I had a mistake on a jump that made me quite angry. A jump I don't normally have problems with."