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Weaver, Poje second in ice dance short program at worlds

The Canadian Press

3/28/2014 9:16:54 AM

SAITAMA, Japan -- European champions Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte received 69.70 points to finish first in the short program. Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje of Waterloo, Ont., trailed by half a point. Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat of France were third on 68.20.

"This is definitely where we want to be, in the attacking position of the top spot, because we feel that we put great work into this season especially and we want to end on a high note and put out two solid performances," said Poje.

Toronto's Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier of Unionville, Ont., were 10th with 59.42 points. Alexandra Paul of Midhurst, Ont., and Mitchell Islam of Barrie, Ont., scored 57.68 points for 11th place heading into Saturday's free dance.

Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev, the top-ranked Russians, were forced to withdraw after Soloviev injured his groin in the morning practice.

Defending champions and Olympic gold medallists Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the United States were not taking part. The ice dance concludes on Saturday with the free dance.

Japanese teenager Yuzuru Hanyu came back with a brilliant free skate to become the first man in 12 years on Friday to win the Olympic and world figure skating titles in the same year.

The 19-year-old Hanyu, who trailed compatriot Tatsuki Machida by nearly seven points after the world championships short program, produced a near-flawless free skate to finish with 282.59 points, just three-tenths of a point ahead of Machida.

Javier Fernandez of Spain was third with 275.93.

"That was very close," Hanyu said. "I work hard to become a skater who can always end with strong performances. I felt the responsibility to win the event."

Hanyu fell twice during the free skate at the Sochi Olympics but had no falls on Friday. Skating to "Romeo and Juliet," he opened with a quad salchow and followed with a quad toeloop.

His only deduction came on the triple flip and he got extra points on five straight jumps.

The men's Olympic-worlds double was last achieved by Alexei Yagudin in 2002.

Machida captured his first major medal with a graceful performance to Stravinski's "Firebird."

"I showed everything I have at this moment," Machida said. "I tried to perform without caring about the score or ranking but it got into my head and I had a really tough four minutes."

Fernandez, who was fourth in Sochi, was deducted points when he singled a planned triple lutz.

"I popped the triple lutz," Fernandez said. "And I didn't do my quad salchow triple toeloop combination, but still it was a good program even though Yuzuru did better than me."

Maxim Kotvun of Russia was fourth followed by Jeremy Abbott of the United States.

Canadian Patrick Chan, who had won the last three world titles, decided to skip this year's competition. Kevin Reynolds of Coquitlam, B.C., was the top Canadian in 11th place. It's been a tough season for Reynolds, who struggled with ill-fitting skates for several months.

"The whole season was a giant learning experience, and I can take from that knowing I can still skate my best even though I'm not feeling even close to where I'd like to be in terms of being comfortable and being ready, being prepared," said Reynolds. "What I can take away from this is that even if I'm not feeling 100 per cent, I know that I can still do the job, and that should give me confidence when I do feel good."

World junior champion Nam Nguyen of Toronto was 12th while Elladj Balde of Pierrefonds, Que., was 18th.

"Skating in front of 20,000 plus people, it's amazing," said the 15-year-old Nguyen. "I'm not intimidated at all. I'm very excited to skate for them. I love to hear them cheer for me. I just want them to skate with me."

-- With files from The Canadian Press