March 23, 2010 / 3:15 PM / 7 years ago

Virtue, Moir lead after first dance in figure skating

3 Min Read

TURIN, Italy (Reuters) - Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir set a season's best in the compulsory dance to hold the lead on the first day of the figure skating world championships Tuesday.

The Canadian ice dancers effortlessly glided around Turin's Palavela rink to notch 44.13 points with their Golden Waltz, with Virtue's pale grey dress failing to put off the judges. Vancouver silver medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the United States lie second on 43.25 ahead of Thursday's original dance and Friday's final free dance.

Italy's Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali were third.

The 100th edition of the world championships, being held in the arena which hosted the 2006 Olympic skating, have been hit by several pull-outs given they are taking place just a month after the Vancouver Games.

"We've never gotten a world title, so it's something we've been planning on," Virtue told reporters.

"We've expected it to be a huge crash after the Olympics, but we've done two weeks of great training."

Following the pairs opening short program, Vancouver silver medalists Pang Qing and Tong Jian of China lead the way after a near flawless show produced marks of 75.28.

Russia's Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov are second.

Defending champions and Olympic bronze medalists Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany, dressed as jesters with painted-on tears, will have cheered up little when placed third with their lackluster routine to "Send in the Clowns."

Italian duo Stefania Berton and Ondrej Hotarek thrilled the home audience by being among the top 16 qualifiers for the last segment despite never having competed together at a major event.

"It's just as difficult competing in front of your home crowd but it is certainly more beautiful," Hotarek told Reuters.

The pairs competition, without retired Olympic champions Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo, ends Wednesday with the free program while the men's event begins with the short routine.

Italian male hope Paolo Bacchini has been ruled out through injury, organizers said in a statement.

Writing by Mark Meadows; Editing by Miles Evans

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