Chan, Germans set records en route to capturing titles

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MOSCOW --- Elegant and athletic, Patrick Chan won his first world figure skating title in record fashion at an event many feared wouldn't happen.

Canada's Patrick Chan won his first world title with a record total score of 280.98. The old mark was 264.41.   Associated Press
Associated Press
Canada's Patrick Chan won his first world title with a record total score of 280.98. The old mark was 264.41.

Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy were far more whimsical, but no less mesmerizing in the pairs competition.

Chan and the German pair each set world records for the free skate and total points Thursday as they claimed titles at the world figure skating championships. Chan claimed the title a day after he set a new mark for the short program. His total score of 280.98 points smashed the previous record of 264.41, set in 2008 by last year's world champion Daisuke Takahashi of Japan.

"I hoped I could get 300," Chan said, joking. "Maybe next time."

Chan was the heavy favorite after a commanding victory at the Grand Prix final, and his two days of elegance and athleticism made for a dramatic opening to a world championships that many had worried wouldn't even happen. The event was supposed to take place in Tokyo in March, but was hastily moved to Moscow in the wake of Japan's catastrophic earthquake and tsunami and the ensuing nuclear crisis.

Japanese national champion Takahiko Kozuka won the men's silver medal. Russia's Artur Gachinski took bronze in his first appearance at the world championships.

Savchenko and Szolkowy scored 217.85 points, topping the previous mark of 216.57 points set last year at the Vancouver Olympics by gold medalists Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo. It was the third title for the Germans, and their fifth world medal in as many years.

Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov, of Russia, won silver. Defending champions Pang Qing and Tong Jian, of China, who had the overnight lead, dropped to bronze.

U.S. champions Caitlin Yankowskas and John Coughlin were sixth, the highest finish for an American pair in a non-Olympic year since 1997. The U.S. won medals in 2002 and 1998, but fields tend to be watered down at post-Olympic world championships.

"The long today was everything we were hoping it would be, kind of a farewell to this very emotional piece and a farewell to this chapter for us," said Coughlin, whose mother's death last year was the inspiration for their Ave Maria program. "Your first national title is something you will never experience again and we wanted to savor this and send it out the right way. I'll be grateful to everyone forever for this program."

The U.S. men didn't fare quite as well, losing one of their spots for next year's worlds because the top two finishers had a combined placement greater than 13. Richard Dornbush, who won the junior Grand Prix title in December, was ninth and Ross Miner was 11th. U.S. champion Ryan Bradley was 13th.


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