Ice Network

Paradise hangs on for second straight world title

Russians edge Finland's Marigold IceUnity; Haydenettes finish fourth
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Seeking their second straight world title, Paradise was on point from start to finish. The leaders after the short program, Russia's top team secured 136.08 points for their "Warsaw Concerto" free skate, a score that helped them narrowly capture the gold medal with a total of 208.70 points, a mere 0.12 in front of Finland's Marigold IceUnity. -Getty Images

Russia's Paradise made it two-for-two Saturday night in Colorado Springs, continuing their undefeated streak en route to picking up their second straight world championship. They edged Finland's Marigold IceUnity by a narrow margin of 0.12 points in front of a packed house at Broadmoor Arena on the final day of the 2017 World Synchronized Skating Championships.

Entering the free skate with a 1.74-point lead, Russia's top team earned 136.08 points for their "Warsaw Concerto" to position themselves for another run at the title. Although they placed second in the final segment, they overcame an injury that left them one skater short to earn 208.70 total points.

Earning Level 4 grading on five of nine elements, Paradise received positive Grades of Execution (GOEs) across the board, marks they'd need as the competition came down to the final teams.

"It's incredible and unbelievable because we only skated with 15," team member Elvira Matveeva said. "We did a great job and I think we deserve it. We're a strong team, and because we're a strong team, we did it. We won today."

In second place after the short program, Marigold IceUnity brought the crowd to its feet with an emotional free skate that accrued 137.30 points. Although they won the segment by 1.62 points, the four-time world champions couldn't overcome the short program deficit to reclaim the title they last earned in 2014. Still, the Finnish squad remained overwhelming crowd favorites, eliciting exuberant applause from cheering sections spanning all 19 nations represented at the event.

"I have to thank the audience," team member Marika Leutola said. "It was an amazing feeling to skate in front of that kind of crowd. In this free skate, we left our hearts out on the ice and it was a very special moment for us."

Canada's Nexxice pulled up from fourth place after the short program to claim the bronze medal, while also returning to the world podium following a year's absence. The 2015 world champions skated an emotional widow-themed program, including "Hymn" by Karl Jenkins and "Memorial" by Michael Nyman, relaying a message more powerful than placement.

"It feels amazing and it's not even about the medal," team member Kelly Britten said. "The skate we had was so great. We tried to put all of the emotion we had into it. It was so emotional for us and we hope everyone in the audience felt that emotion as well."

The performance's only negative GOE came on a Level 4 pair element, where one fall on a death spiral exit held the team to the fourth-best performance of the evening. They earned 130.37 for the segment and 197.54 overall.

Team USA's Haydenettes vaulted from fifth after the short program to fourth place overall, turning in the event's third-best free skate to music from Prince and the Revolution. Despite enduring a fall on a spiral element, the 25-time and reigning U.S. champions were well-received by the home crowd.

"It was unbelievable to see the arena filled with all these fans cheering for us every step of the way," team member Devin Wang said. "It's absolutely indescribable. We felt the energy from the audience and it really carried us through the entire performance."

They earned a segment score of 130.53 and an overall total of 194.43.

Their teammates, the Crystallettes, finished the week in ninth place with 163.00 points.