It felt a bit strange watching the free dance at a World Championships without Meryl Davis and Charlie White and Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, but oh, what an interesting event it turned out to be. The previous four World titles had been carved up between the two North American teams and it was time for new champions to be crowned.
Just over a point divided the top three teams after the short dance, so it was always going to be a cliffhanger with all the contenders on such a similar level. In the end, Anna Cappellini and Luca LaNotte won by virtue of their performance in the short and took the gold medal with a personal best total score of 175.43 points.
Even though their "Barber of Seville" free earned them a career high of 105.73 points, it was only the fourth best program of the afternoon. Still, it was good enough for victory and Cappellini was overcome with emotion at the end result. "When the result came out I was shocked. I still am shocked," she said.
Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje were last to skate and the opportunity was there for them to continue the North American domination of ice dance. However, their career best free score of 106.21 points meant they missed out on continuing the streak by 0.02 points and the title returned to Europe for the first time since 2009. The Canadians seemed content with the silver, their first ever World medal.
"We feel amazing. It's hard to put into words how happy we are. This week went so well. Training come into this Worlds was difficult, but we pushed through it and we're so happy that we did", Weaver said with a broad smile at the post-event press conference.
“Content” would not be a word I'd use to describe how Nathalie Péchalat and Fabian Bourzat felt when they were presented with their second World bronze medal (which had initially been presented to the Canadians in error). The French team were first to skate in the final group and the clear crowd favorites. Their "Petit Prince" routine was the best received of the night by the enthusiastic Japanese crowd, but a personal best of 107.17 points was not enough to give them the title they craved.
Péchalat and Bourzat confirmed their retirement in the press conference. "No way!" was Pechalat's response to a question about them perhaps staying on for another year.
Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov won the free dance with their "Black Swan" program, but they had too much ground to make up after the short and finished in fourth.
Cappellini and LaNotte are only the second Italian team to ever win a World title. Barbara Fusar-Poli and Maurizio Margaglio, who won the title in 2001, embraced each other joyfully when the final results were announced.
It was a different emotion altogether for Cathy Reed and Chris Reed who finished 18th overall. Originally, 2011 was supposed to be their first home World Championships but three years later they finally got to experience one this week in a very true sense. Their mother and biggest supporter, Noriko, is from Saitama.