Canada’s Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro are currently in fifth place at the world figure skating championships. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Canadian pair fifth after short program at figure skating worlds

SAITAMA, Japan — Canada’s Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro are fifth after the pairs short program on Wednesday at the world figure skating championships.

Moore-Towers, of St. Catharines, Ont., and Marinaro, of Sarnia, Ont., notched 73.08 points. The only blip on the skate was Marinaro touching his hand down on the side-by-side triple toe.

“There were some good points but overall we are a little bit disappointed,” said Moore-Towers, sixth with her partner at last year’s worlds. “We had been training elements a lot better than we executed them today. Still the score is solid and that’s a testament to the way we’ve been training.”

Russian skaters Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov skated to the lead with a season-best score of 81.21 points. Wenjing Sui and Cong Han of China were second, followed by teammates Cheng Peng and Yang Jin.

Evelyn Walsh of London, Ont., and Trennt Michaud of Trenton, Ont. were 12th in their worlds debut.

In the women’s event, Olympic champion Alina Zagitova produced a season-best score to take the lead after the short program.

The Russian opened her routine with a triple-lutz, triple-loop combination and added a double axel and a triple flip for 82.08 points.

Japanese national champion Kaori Sakamoto was second with 76.86 points, while Elizabet Tursynbaeva of Kazakhstan was third with 75.96.

Two-time world champion and Olympic silver medallist Evgenia Medvedeva of Russia was fourth with 74.23.

Japanese skater Rika Kihira entered the competition with high expectations after beating Zagitova at the Grand Prix Finals but wasn’t able to execute her triple axel and finished in seventh with 70.90 points.

Gabrielle Daleman of Newmarket, Ont., skated a clean program and was 11th. She finished third at the 2017 worlds.

“It felt so great to do that program,” said Daleman, who missed the Grand Prix season this past fall. “I’ve been working extremely hard in training and coming here was so emotional for me. It gives me a lot of confidence for the free program.”

Canadian champion Alaine Chartrand of Prescott, Ont., was 22nd and Aurora Cotop of Thornhill, Ont., placed 35th and miss the cut for the free skate. The top 24 advanced.

“Even though I had mistakes I kept the other elements together,” said Chartrand. “The free skate is the strongest of my two programs and I look forward to performing it.”

The men’s short program and pairs free skate are on Thursday.

— with files from The Associated Press

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