Qing Pang and Jian Tong are staking their claim to the World title. They have one global title — in 2006 — to their credit. They earned the silver medal a year later but have been shut out of the medals at Worlds since then.
That may change soon. The Olympic silver medalists from China won the pairs short program at the 2010 World Figure Skating Championships in Torino, Italy, on Tuesday. Russia’s Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov and Germany’s Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy placed second and third, respectively.
Meanwhile in ice dance, Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada took the lead after the compulsory dance, the Golden Waltz. Olympic silver medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the United States were second and to the delight of the home crowd Italy’s Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali ranked third.
Pang and Tong delivered a flawless performance of their lyrical routine to “The Pearlfishers” by Georges Bizet. “Tonight we are very happy to have achieved a new season best score,” Tong said. “We skated better than at the Olympic Games.”
The Olympic silver medalists nailed some big elements. Their program was highlighted by solid side-by-side triple toe loops, a big throw triple loop, a triple twist and a rarely seen level-four step sequence. They had one glitch: Their pair combination spin was graded a level one.
Pang and Tong posted a score of 75.28 points (41.28/34.00) to take the lead. “At the Olympic Games everybody felt a little nervous. We were more confident here,” Tong said. “All the elements felt a little better. We hope to skate as well tomorrow.”
Performing to “The Swan” by Camille Saint-Saens, Kavaguti and Smirnov 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 said.
The duo hit a triple toe, a triple twist, a throw triple loop and picked up a level four for its death spiral and the two spins. “We are very satisfied with our performance tonight and we work hard to achieve the best result. I really enjoyed skating for the audience,” Kavaguti said.
Savchenko and Szolkowy earned 69.52 points (36.12/33.40). “I made a mistake and now it’s hard to find something positive about our performance,” Szolkowy said.
The two-time and reigning World champions opened their romantic routine set to “Send in the Clowns” with a high throw triple flip. Szolkowy then doubled the toe loop. Savchenko and Szolkowy rallied to complete a triple twist and difficult spins and a lift that all garnered a level four.
“I did a double toe instead of a triple toe and I’m so disappointed,” Szolkow said. “I felt strong; I didn’t have shaky legs. I don’t know why it happened. 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.”
Maria Mukhortova and Maxim Trankov (RUS) raanked fourth with a clean performance. At 69.48 points, they are within striking distance of the podium. Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang (CHN) are just 0.28 points behind in fifth with 69.20 points. The reigning World silver medalists turned in a strong program as well.
Americans Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett (60.52) ranked sixth in the short program. Russia's Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov (59.78) were seventh and Canadians Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison (59.36) ranked eighth. Americans Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig (57.74) and France's Vanessa James and Yannick Bonheur (55.60) were in ninth and 10th place, respectively, after the short program.
Virtue and Moir performed a fluid and elegant Golden Waltz and posted their season best score (44.13). “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.
Virtue and Moir said they 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,” Virtue said. “We’ve expected it to be a huge crash after the Olympics, but we’ve done two weeks of great training after that. It’s not hard to stay motivated when you’re training with Meryl (Davis) and Charlie (White).”
Moir added, “We are 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.”
Olympic silver medalists Davis and White scored 43.25 points, which was their season best score for a compulsory dance. “It was a really confident performance for us. Before we went out, (coaches) Marina (Zueva) 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 said.
White added, “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.”
Faiella and Scali placed third with thier season best score (40.85). “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 said. “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.”
Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat (FRA) placed fourth with 37.75 points. European bronze medalists Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski ranked fifth with 37.70 points and Sinead Kerr and John Kerr (GBR) were sixth (37.56).
The ISU is awarding a global pot of $710,000 (U.S.) at the World Championships to skaters/couples who place first to 12th. The prize money is awarded as follows:
MEN’S AND LADIES
1st place US$ 45,000
2nd place US$ 27,000
3rd place US$ 18,000
4th place US$ 13,000
5th place US$ 10,000
6th place US$ 7,000
7th place US$ 6,000
8th place US$ 5,000
9th place US$ 3,500
10th place US$ 3,000
11th place US$ 2,500
12th place US$ 2,000
1st place US$ 67,500
2nd place US$ 40,500
3rd place US$ 27,000
4th place US$ 19,500
5th place US$ 15,000
6th place US$ 10,500
7th place US$ 9,000
8th place US$ 7,500
9th place US$ 5,250
10th place US$ 4,500
11th place US$ 3,750
12th place US$ 3,000