March 19, 2008 / 9:40 PM / 11 years ago

Savchenko and Szolkowy joy as Kostner leads

GOTHENBURG, Sweden (Reuters) - Germany’s Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy survived a fall to win pairs gold on Wednesday, while Italian Carolina Kostner led the charge for women’s gold at the world figure skating championships.

Germany's Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy perform during the pairs free skating programme at the World Figure Skating Championships in Gothenburg March 19, 2008. REUTERS/Grigory Dukor

Savchenko and Szolkowy trailed China’s Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao after Tuesday’s short program, where Savchenko had messed up her landing on a side-by-side triple toe loop.

In their free skate on Wednesday the Germans looked like they were heading for another setback as they both tumbled in their side-by-side triple Salchow, but the pair regained their composure to turn in a winning performance.

“Tonight, I don’t know what to say, I’m so happy,” said Szolkowy. “It was a hard way to get here and make a performance like this. It wasn’t perfect, but in the end it was enough.

“We don’t think about the points when we’ve done a mistake, as in this system a Salchow can be as valuable as a spin. Every element is important,” he added.

Skating to the Cirque du Soleil’s L’Oiseau, the Germans finished with 202.86 points, more than five points ahead of Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao.

The Chinese were unable to reproduce the faultless form they showed in Tuesday’s short program, with Zhang Dan bobbling her landing on the pair’s side-by-side triple Salchow.

Canadians Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison finished third, on 192.78, their first world championship podium finish.

CROWD PLEASER

Earlier, Kostner took the lead in the women’s with a crowd-pleasing skate to The Doors’ Riders on the Storm in the short program.

The 20-year-old Italian earned a personal best score of 64.28 points despite blowing the landing on her triple lutz jump.

“I have to say I felt very good, because I really enjoyed how the crowd supported me,” Kostner said. “It was just fun to skate for the Swedish people.”

“I was hoping when I finished that I would be first but I made one mistake and I thought I might be second, but I’m really pleased with my performance and happy.”

Japan’s Mao Asada, last month’s winner of the Four Continents trophy and the silver medalist at last year’s worlds, stood second going into Thursday’s final skate after a near-faultless performance that earned her 64.10, her best score this season.

She was joined in the top three by compatriot Yukari Nakano, 22, who turned in a lithe and graceful skate to Chopin’s Fantasie Impromptu, scoring 61.10 points.

Korea’s Kim Yu-na, one of the favorites who is not yet back to her best after recovering from an injury, was back in fifth after a fall on a triple lutz jump.

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“I felt pain from my earlier (hip and back) injury when I did the triple-triple combination and then tried to do the lutz. That is why I fell,” said Kim.

Defending champion Miki Ando of Japan was back in eighth place after a below-par performance.

(additional reporting by Sarah Edmonds)

Editing by Miles Evans

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