ZAGREB, Croatia – Canada’s Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha are in first place after Thursday’s rhythm dance at the ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships.

Lajoie and Lagha, fourth last year, earned 70.14 points for their tango to place ahead of three Russian couples. Elizaveta Khudaiberdieva and Nikita Nazarov are second at 68.69 and Sofia Shevchenko and Igor Eremenko are third at 67.56.

“It was very stressful,” said Lagha, from Greenfield Park, Que. “The short program is always the hardest. We gave a good showing of what we’ve been working on.”

Lajoie, from Boucherville, Que., kept focused on the performance.

“I wanted to feel like it was just another competition,” she said. “I didn’t want to think about the name ‘world juniors’ and just concentrate on my skating.”

Alicia Fabbri of Terrebonne, Que., and Paul Ayer of Brossard, Que., are 11th.

“We’re very proud to be here after eight months of hard work,” said Fabbri. “We stayed in character today and kept connected through the whole program.”

The free skate in pairs was held later with Russia going 1-2-3 with Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov winning the gold.

Brooke McIntosh of Etobicoke, Ont., and Brandon Toste of Mississauga, Ont., were 10th and Gabrielle Levesque of Bridgewater, N.S., and Pier- Alexandre Hudon of St-Roc-des-Aulunaies Que., 15th.

Competition continues Friday with the men’s free skate and the women’s short program. The free dance is on Saturday.

Full results: http://www.isuresults.com/results/season1819/wjc2019/