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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, March 25, 2010

Figure skating: Canadians Virtue-Moir win original dance

Associated Press Writer

TURIN, Italy Olympic gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada won the original dance at the World Figure Skating Championships on Thursday with a sultry, saucy flamenco, extending their lead over Vancouver runners-up Meryl Davis and Charlie White.

Virtue and Moir earned a season-best 70.27 points almost two points higher than their Vancouver score.

"We didn't think we had quite the magic we had at the Olympic Games, but we were pleased with the performance," Moir said.

They have 114.40 points heading into Friday's free dance. Davis and White, two-time U.S. champions who train with Virtue and Moir, have 112.54 points after scoring a season-best 69.29 for their colorful Bollywood-on-ice OD.

The men's free skate is later Thursday.

Virtue said their Turin performance was stronger than the one in Vancouver, but there was no shortage of emotion as they performed fiery step sequences. The pair trained with flamenco dancers to infuse the piece with authenticity.

"A lot of that passion that they brought to us now comes from within," Virtue said.

The Canadians and Americans are both hungry for a world title something neither has achieved after their Olympic success. Though Virtue and Moir lead Davis and White by almost two points, that can be made up in Friday's free dance.

"We feel we used the Olympic Games to help us grow as skaters and performers, and I think it helped us out there," White said.

In Turin, the job of hometown favorites falls to Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali of Italy, who remained third in the overall standings by finishing third in the original dance. They have 100.01 total points.

The Italian crowd cheered wildly for Faiella and Scali's original dance, which combined traditional dances from Naples and Calabria. Their only flaw was an error on their twizzles spinning turns that cost them in both difficulty and execution.

"It's hard to dance with a crowd screaming like a soccer game, but we are very happy," Scali said.

Americans Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates were in 11th place after skating their country-western dance, with a total of 85.40 points. The couple, who finished 11th in Vancouver, need to maintain or improve their placing in the final free dance to secure three U.S. spots at next year's worlds.

"This is probably my favorite program to compete and the season, too, has been fantastic," Samuelson said.

The top two American couples must finish with a combined placement of 13 second and 11th, for example and Samuelson and Bates are being counted on after reigning world silver medalists Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto decided not to compete.

The third American dance couple, Kimberly Navarro and Brent Bommentre, was in 13th with a Brazilian folk dance.

"We were motivated, we trained hard and we skated well today," Bommentre said. "Our only goal is to skate well and to enjoy. Well, maybe tomorrow we can do 300 points and win the gold medal!"