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Figure skating: Ando, US ice dancers strike gold at worlds

01 may 2011, 09:09
Meryl Davis and Charlie White. ©RIA Novosti
Meryl Davis and Charlie White. ©RIA Novosti
Miki Ando beat favourites Kim Yu-Na and Mao Asada to win the women's title as ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White claimed a first ice dancing gold for the United States at the world figure skating championships Saturday, AFP reports.

The 23-year-old Ando surged to her second title after 2007 ahead of returning Olympic champion Kim with Carolina Kostner of Italy taking bronze. Defending champion Asada slumped to sixth.

A hot Argentine tango routine gave the United States their first ice dancing title as Davis and White came out of the shadows of Olympic and world champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada.

Davis and White beat the Canadians by 3.48 points to set new world record marks in the free skate (111.51) and overall total (185.27).

"There were so many other amazing (American dance) teams we've looked up to over the years and to be the first to win this title means the world to us," said Davis as they beat the Canadians by 3.48 points to set a new record.

Virtue and Moir finished ahead of the Americans at both the Olympic and last year's worlds but were making their full return to competition after Virtue underway surgery on both her shins six months ago.

They competed in the Four Continents in February but were forced to withdraw during the free dance, so Saturday's routine to Latin-American rhythms was the first time they had performed it this year.

"It was a mental game. We didn't have experience in competition this season so we just had to rely on our experience," said Virtue.

Ando dedicated her win to the victims of the quake-tsumami disaster in her native Japan. The world championships had been due to take place in Tokyo last month but were moved to Moscow after the March 11 earthquake.

Ando's performance was not without errors as she two-footed the landing on her triple toeloop combination during her routine to Grieg's Piano Concerto.

"It wasn't perfect. I had some small mistakes and not enough speed but I'm just happy because I was skating for Japan and I'm just happy to have a medal," said Ando who scored 195.79 overall to Kim's 194.50.

"In Japan we're having a really hard time right now. Skating is really important there and so many people are watching the competition. I hope this will give them the power to go forward."

Overnight leader Kim had been competing for the first time since losing her world title last year to two-time winner Asada but struggled with jumps in her free skate tribute to her native Korea.

"I don't think that is why I made mistakes, I was nervous that is all," said the 20-year-old when asked if her drop in form was a result of lack of competition.

"At the beginning I had a mistake and I was nervous after the jump (popped triple flip), but then I was back to normal and did my best.

"Today I wanted to show my new programme to the audience, my fans. I was not thinking about results. I was skating to Korean music, it was really important to me and it gave me a lot of energy."

The 24-year-old Kostner scored 184.68 as she moved up from sixth to third to add to her silver in 2008 and bronze in 2005.

Olympic silver-medallist Asada, the 2008 and 2010 champion, finished sixth after errors in her free skate ensured she could not make up for her seventh place in Friday's short programme.

In ice dancing, it was a podium sweep for US-based Russian coaches and choreographers Igor Shpilband and Marina Zueva, who also trained brother and sister team Maia and Alex Shibutani who took bronze.

By Emmeline Moore

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