SAITAMA CITY, Japan – Canada’s Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro are within striking distance of the podium after Wednesday’s pairs short progam which opened the ISU World Figure Skating Championships.

Moore-Towers, from St. Catharines, Ont., and Marinaro, from Sarnia, Ont., are in fifth place with 73.08 points. The only blip on the skate was Marinaro touching his hand down on the side-by-side triple toe.

“There were some good points but overall we are a little bit disappointed,” said Moore-Towers, sixth with her partner at last year’s worlds. “We had been training elements a lot better than we executed them today. Still the score is solid and that’s a testament to the way we’ve been training.”

Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov of Russia are first at 81.21. Wenjing Sui and Cong Han of China follow at 79.24 and their compatriots Cheng Peng and Yang Jin are third at 75.15.

Evelyn Walsh and Trennt Michaud

Evelyn Walsh of London, Ont., and Trennt Michaud of Trenton, Ont. made their worlds debut and are 12th.

“As we expected we were tight and nervous,” said Walsh. “We fought for a lot of things so it was definitely one for the books.”

In the women’s short program, Alina Zagitova of Russia is first, Kaori Sakamoto of Japan second and Elizabet Tursynbaeva of Kazakhstan third.

Two-time Olympian Gabrielle Daleman of Newmarket, Ont., skated a clean program and is 11th.

“It felt so great to do that program,” said Daleman, third at the 2017 worlds, who missed the Grand Prix season this past fall. “I’ve been working extremely hard in training and coming here was so emotional for me. It gives me a lot of confidence for the free program.”

Canadian champion Alaine Chartrand of Prescott, Ont., is 22nd and Aurora Cotop of Thornhill, Ont., placed 35th and miss the cut for the free skate. The top-24 advanced.

“Even though I had mistakes I kept the other elements together,” said Chartrand. “The free skate is the strongest of my two programs and I look forward to performing it.”

Competition continues Thursday with the pairs free skate and the men’s short program. The event is streamed live at CBC.ca starting at 9:30 p.m. (EDT) Wednesday evening. (10:30 a.m. Thursday in Japan)

Full results: http://www.isuresults.com/results/season1819/wc2019/