Road To The Olympic Games

Figure Skating

Rochette finishes 5th, Leung 14th at worlds

Reigning Canadian champion Joannie Rochette finished fifth at the world figure skating championships on Thursday.

Reigning Canadian champion Joannie Rochette fell short of the podium Thursday, finishing fifth in the women's singles at the world figure skating championships in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Rochette, from Île Dupas, Que., ranked sixth heading into the free skate.

Her previous best at the worlds was seventh in 2006.

"I knew it was a performance that could put me in the Top Five," she said. "I'm happy with my season."

Rochette put a hand down on one landing and over-rotated on another, but she tried six of seven triple jumps to merit a score of 174.12.

"There are things to learn from this season to take into next year and the year after," she said.

Japan's Mao Asada won the gold medal, Italy's Carolina Kostner took the silver, and Yu-Na Kim of South Korea emerged with the bronze.

Asada fell as she headed into her first jump, a planned triple axel, but regrouped and completed the program with confidence.

"I don't know what happened. I was surprised," Asada said. "My heart stopped."

Asada landed six triple jumps, including a pair of triple-triple combinations, to win the gold with a total of 185.56 points.

Kostner, who skated the finest short program, looked shaky in the free skate and touched her hand on the ice on two landings. 

"I was a bit uncertain on some landings," she said. "It was the first time for me to have such a responsibility [being in the lead].

"I am a bit disappointed about the mistakes, but I'm happy how the week went."

Kostner finished with 184.68 points to secure the silver over Kim, who is coached by former Canadian and world champion Brian Orser.

"I felt tired at the end of the program," said Kim, who competed with strained left hip ligaments.

"My performance was not perfect and my condition was not 100 per cent, but I'm pleased with my score [183.23]."

Ando withdraws

Defending world champion Miki Ando of Japan, who sustained a strained left calf muscle in morning practice, fell early in her program and withdrew.

Vancouver's Mira Leung of Vancouver placed 14th among the 24 of 53 skaters who advanced to the free skate.

She landed two triples, but fell on a triple toe loop.

"I'm okay with my performance," Leung said. "I'm not overly happy and I'm not overly disappointed.

"I feel like the standards of judging have changed a little over the years. If I were skating the way I was a couple of years ago, I wouldn't be sitting in this position.

"I probably wouldn't even make it to the long program. Figure skating, overall, has improved a lot, and you just have to keep pushing as hard as you can."

Canada hasn't won a medal in women's singles since Elizabeth Manley clinched the silver at the 1988 worlds.

The last Canadian woman to win a world title was Karen Magnussen in 1973.

With files from the Canadian Press

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