Canada enjoyed an especially sweet week
at the 2012 ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Nice, France.
The ice dance team of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and men's skater Patrick Chan each claimed their second world title. That last time Canada won two gold medals at the world championships was in 1993, when Kurt Browning and pair skaters Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler took the top spots.
Although the results from this year's worlds were pretty much as expected, some of the paths to the podium were not.Men's: Chan good enough to fend off Japanese
Chan, who now owns back-to-back world titles, was not at his best in Nice. It's often said that winning is one thing, but defending the title, especially the first time, is something completely different. By his own admission, Chan was nervous. At the end of the day, though, he didn't allow his head to get in the way of his skating. He won both segments of the competition to claim the gold
The Japanese men were brilliant. Defending world silver medallist Daisuke Takahashi took home the silver again, despite third-place finishes in both the short and free. The men's event was brought to new heights of drama when 2010 world junior champion Yuzuru Hanyu took the ice in the free skate. The 17-year-old was unstoppable, placing second in the free program to move up from seventh and take the bronze medal.Dance: Virtue & Moir come through, Weaver & Poje make their mark
In the dance, Virtue and Moir won both the short and the free segments on their way to re-claiming their world title
. The dazzling American champions, Meryl Davis and Charlie White, were not able to defend their world title and took the silver. The event reminded me of last year's in that the best performance on the day of competition prevailed, as both teams are so evenly matched.
The real race for me was for the bronze. Although French champions Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat were solid on their way to collecting their first world medal, the Canadian team of Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje were more memorable. Weaver and Poje moved up another spot to fourth in the standings this year.
Honourable mention in the ice dance event has to go to Canada's other team, Kharis Ralph and Asher Hill, who moved up two spots after the short dance to finish 13th in their worlds debut.Pairs: Sloppy short dooms Russians
In pairs, the German team of Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy were able to defend and earn their fourth world title
. Their short program lead set them up to retain their title. Had they not done that, there is no way that they would have been able to hold off eventual silver medallists Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov of Russia, who lost the title by a mere .11.
Volosozhar and Trankov had a disastrous mishap in the short, where they fell on their death spiral, putting them down in eighth place going into the free. From the moment they stepped on the ice to take their position in their free, I could see from the look in their eyes that this was going to be a very special skate. They won the free and, with the scores they earned, leapfrogged over the competition to take the silver.
The other thrill was watching the team of Narumi Takahashi and Regina-born Mervin Tran earn the very first medal for Japan in pairs. Not only did they surprise the world by finishing up in third in the short program, but they backed it up with the same thing in the free and walked away with the bronze medal.Ladies: Kostner rallies with dazzling free skate
I don't know why this is, but I never doubted for a minute that Carolina Kostner of Italy would end up the world champion. Kostner found herself in third place after the short skate, but by the time she was about a minute or so into her four-minute free program, it was clear that she was having one of the best skates of her life. Watching her eyes tear up on the medal stand while her national anthem was playing gave me a hint as to how much of an accomplishment winning this first title really was.
Russia's Alena Leonova was dazzling in her short program and took the lead. She was equally solid in the free but her program lacked the little bit of "magic" that might have made the difference. Regardless, she earned her first medal, a silver.
It was finally time for Japan's Akiko Suzuki to shine. She was at her very best in the free, where she moved up the ladder from fifth after the short to third overall.
Keep on the lookout for American champion Ashley Wagner, who was positively mesmerizing in her free skate, which raised her from eighth to fourth overall. She looks to be the best bet among the American ladies to get back on top of the world stage.
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