Sports

Dubreuil, Lauzon lead at figure skating worlds

Montreal duo Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon received top marks for their compulsory dance program Tuesday and sit in first place in the ice dance competition at the world figure skating championships in Tokyo.

Montreal duo Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon received top marks for their compulsory dance program Tuesday and sit in first place in the ice dance competition at the world figure skating championships in Tokyo.

"Everything went really well," Lauzon said after their rumba. "We love compulsories, and this dance is one of our strongest so it was great to perform it here."

The Canadian duo earned 38.96 points, reigning world champs Albena Denkova and Maxim Staviski of Bulgaria were second with 37.42, and Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin of Russia earned 37.29 to sit third.

European champions Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder of France had 37.20 and Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto of the United States had 37.17.

Teenagers Tessa Virtue of London, Ont., and Scott Moir of Ilderton, Ont., sat ninth with 31.45 and Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje of Kitchener, Ont., were 16th with 25.76.

The original dance program goes Thursday and the free dance Friday.

The Canadians, who won the silver medal at the world figure skating championships last year, lead but they're not taking anything for granted.

"Even though we're first, we know the competition is very tight," said Dubreuil. "Behind us, everybody is within less than a point.

"So we're excited about this but we know for the [original dance] we still have to put on a really good show and, hopefully, we can do it as relaxed and make it feel as pleasant as we did [Tuesday]."

Sitting in first place after the compulsory dance is a huge psychological advantage, said Lauzon.

"We know anything can happen on the last day," said Lauzon. "What's very important is to gain as many points during the competition and not leave anything behind.

"We're really happy that we gained a full point [on the closest challengers]. Last year we came second [in the final standings] by half a point so from that we learned that every little point you can get is important."

Also on Tuesday, Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao of China topped the pairs competition standings after the short program while Valerie Marcoux of Gatineau, Que., and Craig Buntin of Kelowna, B.C., were the top Canadians in fifth place.

Canadian champions Jessica Dube of Drummondville, Que., and Bryce Davison of Cambridge, Ont., were seventh.

Shen and Zhao earned 71.07 points followed by Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany with 67.65 and defending champions Zing Pang and Jian Tong of China with 66.75

Marcoux and Buntin scored 60.73 while Dube and Davison collected 58.94 points.

Anabelle Langlois of Grand-Mere, Que., and Cody Hay of Grande Prairie, Alta., were 13th with 55.96.

Wednesday's schedule includes the men's short program and pairs free-skating final.

With files from the Canadian Press

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