French win ice dance, Canada's Buttle leads men's

Fri Mar 21, 2008 7:44pm EDT
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By Oliver Grassman

GOTHENBURG, Sweden (Reuters) - French favorites Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder won the ice dancing gold and Canada's Jeffrey Buttle took a surprise lead in the men's event at the world championships on Friday.

Delobel and Schoenfelder turned in a romantic performance to The Piano soundtrack by Michael Nyman, finishing well ahead of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada in the three-leg event.

The French pair triumphed overall even though Four Continents champions Virtue and Moir produced the evening's highest score in the free dance.

"We really gave our best," said Delobel. "We were under a lot of pressure so it was not easy but I think we performed well. We are happy now."

"It was a very emotional performance and later we felt a lot of stress waiting for the result."

"It's a great night to win the title, and we've never been on the (world championship) podium before," said Delobel. "It's a nice story with a happy ending."

Virtue and Moir trailed in third place going into the final leg but produced a pitch-perfect performance to the soundtrack of the musical Umbrellas of Cherbourg to clinch the silver.

"We are just thrilled, we couldn't be more excited," said Virtue, who has skated with Moir for the last 11 years. "It has been a great journey. We are so fortunate to have each other."   Continued...

<p>France's Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder pose with their gold medals after winning the ice dancing free dance programme at the World Figure Skating Championships in Gothenburg March 21, 2008. REUTERS/Bob Strong</p>