Canadians in gold medal hunt at worlds

SHANGHAI – Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford are in first place after Wednesday’s pairs short program at the world figure skating championships.

Meanwhile Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje of Waterloo, Ont., stand second after the short dance.

The Canadians earned 76.98 points followed by Chinese pairs Qing Pang and Jian Tong at 72.59 and Wenjing Sui and Cong Han at 71.63.

Duhamel of Lively, Ont., and Radford of Balmertown, Ont., had drawn to skate last out of the 19 couples.

Performing to “Un peu plus haut” by Ginette Reno, the reigning ISU Grand Prix Final Champions hit a triple twist, side by side triple Lutz and throw triple Lutz.

The two-time World bronze medalists collected a level four for the side by side spin, the lift, footwork and death spiral to set a new personal best.

“We are at one of the biggest competitions of our career and we’re heading into the long program for the very first time at worlds in first place,” said Radford. “Having a great skate in the short helps us feel more relaxed and also our scores allow us more freedom. Overall we feel very confident going into the free.”

World junior silver medallists Julianne Séguin of Longueuil, Que., and Charlie Bilodeau of Trois-Pistoles, Que., are 10th and Lubov Iliushechkina and Dylan Moscovitch of Toronto 11th

In ice dancing, Madison Chock and Evan Bates of the U.S. lead with 74.47 points. Weaver and Poje follow ed with a personal best 72.68 and Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte of Italy are third at 72.39.

Weaver/Poje’s passionate performance to “La Virgen de Macarena” was highlighted by fast twizzles, precise footwork and a rotational lift.

The reigning World silver medalists picked up a level four for four elements but the first Paso Doble sequence was graded a level two.

“We put pressure on ourselves in practice since Four Continents to improve our technical mark since this was our weakness in the last competition,” said Weaver.

“Today we did much better, we were able to focus and we were in the zone. We feel like we are in a good place and we’re look forward to the free dance on Friday.”

Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier of Toronto are seventh and Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam of Barrie, Ont., are eighth.

“This was a great way to start our last competition of the season,” said Poirier. “It’s a program that’s really challenging and we have grown into it.”

“We reached levels that we hadn’t attained all year,” said Paul. “To skate our best at worlds is really satisfying.”

Competition continues Thursday with the pairs free skate and the women’s short program.

Full results:

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