Patrick Chan Wins First World Title; Sets New World Records
Canada’s Patrick Chan kicked off his 2011 Worlds experience by winning the men’s short program and setting a new world record. His score of 93.02 points surpassed that of Evgeni Plushenko's (91.30), which he earned at the 2010 European Championships.
Japan's Nobunari Oda and Daisuke Takahashi placed second and third, respectively but the long proved to be a brand new ball game.
Chan, the first skater of the final flight in the free, left no doubt he was the man to catch. He executed two quadruple toe loops and five triple jumping passes in his performance to “Phantom of the Opera,” and earned high levels for his spins and footwork.
The two-time World silver medalist was stunned when his score was posted: 187.96 points (another record) and a combined record-setting score of 280.98 points overall. “It was amazing. Considering I had to skate first in my group, I didn't hold back or change my planned content at all,” Chan said.
“I felt some pressure even though people told me I had a big lead and did need to put two quads in the long. But I really wanted to do it because that's how I've been training the program and I felt obligated to do it for myself.”
The silver medal went to Japan’s Takahiko Kozuka of Japan who pulled up from sixth after the short. His free program to Franz Liszt's “Piano Concerto No. 1” set the crowd on fire. The reigning Japanese champion scored 180.79 points for the free and racked up an impressive 258.41 points to win his first World medal.
“It was the best performance of the season and I'm very happy,” Kozuka said. “The whole season was good, but this was the best. I did the quad the best I could have done it. I am very glad that with my performance I was able to inspire the Japanese people in such hard times. It was my dream to do it in this championship, and I did it.”
The surprise bronze medalist was Russia's Artur Gachinski who opened his long program to “The Bolt” with a quadruple toe loop and followed it up with seven triples. He earned 241.86 points at his Worlds debut.
“I can say that my performance was almost perfect. I did my quad and two triple Axels. My points were just super! This is a big result for me,” he said.
Michal Březina from the Czech Republic finished fourth for the second year in a row (233.61 points).
Defending World champion Daisuke Takahashi had a boot miscue seconds into his long program that forced him to stop. Japanese officials worked feverishly to reinstall a screw within the designated three-minute timeline for a program interruption. He slipped from third to fifth with 232.97.
His teammate, Nobunari Oda, fell to sixth after once again losing valuable points by executing three triple toe loops, which is against the rules (232.50).
Ando Claims the Top Step Of the Ladies Podium
Everyone expected a battle royale in the ladies event and they were not disappointed.
Korea’s Yuna Kim and Miki Ando of Japan were separated by less than a point following the short program. Kim held a slim lead with 65.91 points over Ando’s 65.58.
Ando put down a solid performance in the free to Edvard Grieg's “Piano Concerto No. 1” earning a combined score of 195.79 points, edging out Kim by a little more than a point in the end (194.50).
“This was the last time to skate this program and I really wanted to show my best,” Ando told the press. “This time I was skating for Japan, it was a tribute to the Japanese people who suffered in the disaster. Maybe I was able to bring back a little smile to the people of Japan. I won my first World title in Japan and now my second title here in Moscow and I'm very happy about that as I consider Russia as my second home.”
Kim, who was competing in her first competition of the season, admitted to being a little nervous. “Today I wanted to show my new program to the audience, my fans. I was not thinking about results. I was ready to achieve my goals. I was skating to Korean music, it was really important to me and it gave me a lot of energy,” she explained.
Italy’s Carolina Kostner pulled up from sixth to capture the bronze with 184.68 points. “I competed here in 2005 and I won bronze then, so I can say that this is a good thing for me to compete in Moscow,” she said.
Alena Leonova from Russia placed fourth (183.92) and America’s Alissa Czisny finished in fifth (182.25).
Triple Crown for Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy
Germany's Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy captured their third World title ahead of Russia’s rising stars Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov (silver) and Qing Pang and Jian Tong of China who captured the bronze.
Savchenko and Szolkowy delighted the crowd with an excellent performance of their “Pink Panther” routine, setting a new record with a score of 144.87 points and a combined total of 217.85 (also a new record).
The previous record holders were China’s Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao who scored 216.57 points at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
“I think this third World title will go into the history of German figure skating,” Savchenko said. “The performance felt as good as the one at the 2007 European Championships. This title is special because of the performance we gave, second because it was in Moscow and third because it is the third title.”
Szolkowy added that it was a perfect skate at the end of a long season.
Voloszhar and Trankov scored 210.73 to capture their first World medal. “This was our first major international competition and we just wanted to present ourselves, as we are a new team,” said Voloszhar who hails from the Ukraine.
“We were unable to compete at Europeans because I hadn't been cleared at that time to compete for Russia. We just wanted to show our best performance and that's what we did.”
Pang and Tong struggled with the solo jumps. He singled an Axel and doubled a toe loop. The defending World champions scored 130.12 points, a season’s best, but slipped to third with 204.12 overall.
“We were a little nervous today and it is a pity we didn't skate as well as we could have, but we will try harder next time,” Pang said.
“Today would have been a good opportunity for us, but we missed it. Maybe I thought too much and grew too nervous, maybe that's why it was hard,” Tong added.
Russia’s Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov placed fourth with a solid performance (187.36 points). Teammates Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov were fifth (187.36).
Meryl Davis and Charlie White Dance Into History
America had reason to celebrate in Moscow when Meryl Davis and Charlie White wrote themselves into the history books by mining gold in the dance discipline. They are the first U.S. team to ever claim the honor.
The Detroit duo earned high Grade of Execution marks for all of their elements and posted a new season high score of 111.51 points. Their combined total of 185.27 propelled them into first place. “We couldn't be happier. We've worked our entire life for this moment,” White said. “It's never been easy, but we put in extra effort when it got hard. It's just such a blessing it paid off when it counted here at Worlds. We are so proud of each other. It's really a dream come true for us.”
Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir danced into second with181.79 points but neither was disappointed with the result. “We are really happy with the way we skated. That's a really demanding program, really tough, and we thought we skated really well. We are really proud of this silver medal,” Moir said.
First time World competitors Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani from the U.S. upset the establishment by claiming the bronze medal with 163.79 points.
“We're just speechless. Going into our first World Championships we were really looking forward to just enjoying the experience and showing all the hard work we have put in this year, so this result is amazing,” Maia Shibutani said. “I'm just shocked.”
It was a disappointing competition for the reigning European Champions Nathalie Péchalat and Fabian Bourzat from France who placed fourth after both fell at the beginning of their circular step sequence (163.54).
Canada’s Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje moved up from seventh to fifth with a strong free dance performance (160.32 points).