Russian pair Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov took a commanding lead yesterday after the short program at the World Figure Skating Championships in Saitama, Japan, after a fall left French favorites Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres in seventh place.
James and Cipres, undefeated this season and the first French pair to win the European Championship in more than 80 years, went down when James botched the landing on their throw triple flip and fell to the ice.
James later said a collision with Italy’s Matteo Guarise during the warm-up prior to their performance had rattled her.
“I didn’t see Matteo, Matteo didn’t see me, so we crashed and I fell,” she told the International Skating Union. “It took me off a little and I was not very comfortable after. I felt a little dizzy, so I tried to stay focused.”
“It was a bad skate for us today, and with the fall it was very tiring after,” she added.
Tarasova and Morozov, who placed fourth at last year’s Winter Olympics and second at last year’s worlds, renewed their season’s best score with 81.21 points in a dramatic, dynamic routine that had the audience clapping along at the Saitama Super Arena, just north of Tokyo.
“During the European Championships, we had the same mistake both in the short and free programs. Therefore, now we had to train harder not to allow this to happen anymore,” Tarasova said. “We decided to make everything at our maximum.”
James and Cipres were on 68.67 points after their routine, in which Cipres also made an uncharacteristic error when he doubled a toe loop.
“I don’t know what happened,” he said. “The season was long. We were not good on the ice today. It was not our moment, not our day.”
Sui Wenjing and Han Cong of China, who have had an injury-plagued season, were second on 79.24 after delivering a graceful routine, with compatriots Peng Cheng and Jin Yang in third with 75.51.
“While we had several mistakes at the beginning of the program — otherwise the score would have been above 80 points — we still performed our best,” Sui said. “We would like to skate well in the free program as well.”
The pairs winner is to be decided today with the free program. The championships last until Saturday.
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