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Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin Golden; Yu-Na Kim Takes Lead in Ladies Event

Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin's first medal at the World Championships was the gold. Domnina and Shabalin gave a powerful and elegant free dance in Los Angeles to claim the global ice dance crown. Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto of the United States claimed silver while Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada earned the bronze medal.

The Russians scored a competition mark of 206.30, 1.22 ahead of the Americans. Virtue and Moir edged Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White by 0.04 of a point for the third spot on the podium.

"At the end of the program I said something like 'thank God.' We skated and my strength was fading. We get close to the end of the program, and from you somewhere pull out the last strength you have,” Shabalin revealed. “This (success) probably means very, very much, but right now I’m not feeling anything. We reached a goal we have been living for and we’ve strived to achieve for many years. If I wouldn’t believe in it, I wouldn’t win. I believe in it every day.”

Competing for the first time in months, the Americans were happy with the silver. "First of all it feels amazing to be here," Agosto said. "The fact that we pushed through all is really a great experience for us we really learned a lot about ourselves. This is going to make us stronger skaters and stronger people. I felt like we skated really well tonight. The whole competition I’ve been happy with the way we performed.”

Belbin and Agosto skated a dramatic “Tosca” program and produced intricate steps, and beautiful lifts including a rotational lift in which he swept his partner around effortlessly and a serpentine lift with changes of position. The Americans scored 100.27 points (50.50/49.77), which was a season best. They finished the competition with a score of 205.88.

Virtue and Moir modern-themed routine to “Great Gig in the Sky” and “Money” by Pink Floyd earned 99.98 points (50.70/49.28). They were ranked fourth in the free dance but managed to clinch the bronze medal by the thinnest of margins with 200.40 overall points.

“Tonight was all about us. We just wanted to go out and skate not for what the judges thought, but what we thought. We skated the best we could and we’re so happy about that,” Moir explained. “It’s just a reminder of why we do it. It’s been a tough year, and this reminds me of why I love the sport so much and why we suffer through stuff. I couldn’t be more honest in saying that I really don’t care what the judges say today. I’m really self-satisfied and have a really good sense of accomplishment”

Davis and White came fourth with a strong performance of their “Samson and Dalilah” program that contained difficult elements performed at high speed (200.36 points). Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat (FRA) put out an entertaining yet technically strong circus program to move up from sixth to fifth (194.36 points). 2008 World bronze medalists Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski (RUS) performed a dynamic dance to “Caprice 24” by Niccolo Paganini and finished sixth (193.41 points).

THE LADIES

Meanwhile, Yu-Na Kim of Korea won the ladies short with a superb performance. Canada’s Joannie Rochette finished second and Mao Asada of Japan is currently ranked third.

Kim, who had starting number 52 out of 54, gave a stunning performance of her powerful routine to “Danse Macabre.” Kim posted a new short program record score of 76.12 points (43.40 element score/program component score). “When I finished, I couldn't have guessed what kind of points I would have been getting, but I know that I did well at Four Continents, so it would be somewhere around that. When I saw my score, it was a lot higher, and it surprised me,” Kim said.

Kim opened with a rock-solid triple flip-triple toe loop combination followed by a triple Lutz out of footwork, a double Axel and exquisite spins and spirals. Her three spins and the spiral sequence were graded a level four while the footwork was awarded a level three. The crowd gave the reigning Four Continents champion a standing ovation.

Performing to “Summertime,” Rochette nailed a double Axel, a triple Lutz-double toe loop combination, a triple flip and produced a two level-four spins as well as a level-three straight line step sequence. The reigning Four Continents silver medalist scored 67.90 points (37.50/30.40), improving her previous personal best slightly.

“I was satisfied with what I did," she said. "My elements were not perfect, but my goal was to reach out to the public more. That’s what I was missing at Four Continents. I feel confident for the long program and I’m anxious to come back tomorrow. The Free Program is my strength.”

Asada landed a triple flip-triple loop combination right at the beginning of her lyrical program to “Clair de Lune” by Claude Debussy but then she doubled the Lutz. The reigning World champion recovered to complete a double Axel and beautiful spins. The combination spin was a level four while the flying sit and layback spin were graded a level three. The 18-year-old earned 66.06 points (35.90/30.16).

“One of my goals in the first half was to complete the triple-triple. I was satisfied about that, but for the second half I was not able to do my best, so I’m not satisfied,” Asada said. “I’ve worked on doing the triple Lutz from the outside edge during the summer and I learned it. I really want to do a good triple Lutz in competition, but it didn’t work, and I’m very upset about that. I feel that the biggest problem with it was it was not powerful enough.

“I will not do the Lutz tomorrow, but I will do two (triple) Axels.”

Miki Ando, the 2007 World champion, finished fourth with a solid performance that included a triple flip, a double Axel and a level-four combination spin, but the back end of her triple Lutz-triple loop combination was downgraded (64.12 points).
2008 World silver medalist Carolina Kostner (ITA) is sitting in fifth place at 63.18 points. She two-footed her triple Lutz and put her hand down on her triple flip-double toe loop combination.

Reigning European champion Laura Lepistö came in sixth with a program that included a triple toe-double toe combination, a triple loop and two level-four spins (59.66 points).


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