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Bazarova, Larionov grab slim lead in pairs short

Moore-Towers, Moscovitch sit less than half a point back; Castelli, Shnapir comfortably in third

Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov were the narrow winners of the short program.
Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov were the narrow winners of the short program. (Getty Images)

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By International Skating Union
(11/24/2012) - Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov of Russia gabbed a narrow lead in the pairs short program over Canadians Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch at the NHK Trophy in Sendai, Japan. Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir of the U.S. came in third.

Performing to "Liebestraum" by Franz Liszt, Bazarova and Larionov completed a side-by-side triple toe, a throw triple loop and triple twist as well as a difficult lift, spin and step sequence. The death spiral, however, was graded a Level 2.

The European silver medalists scored 65.61 points.

"We are glad that everything worked out in our program, but, unfortunately, it wasn't completely clean. There were a few smaller mistakes in some elements, such as the (side-by-side) jump," Larionov said. "Today, we felt a bit nervous before the competition, although our training went well."

Moore-Towers and Moscovitch's program to music by Mötley Crüe featured a triple toe loop, triple twist and throw triple loop, as well as a lift, footwork sequence and side-by-side spin that were all graded Level 4.

The Canadians set a new season's best with 65.14 points.

"We were both happy with our performance today. We felt like we came out with the right attitude. We had a lot of energy and attack in our program," Moscovitch said. "It wasn't the cleanest skate for us; there are a few little things that we still need to clean up."

Castelli and Shnapir landed a side-by-side triple Salchow, triple twist and throw triple Salchow in their routine to "Stray Cat Strut" and music from The Pink Panther to collect a season-best 61.85 points.

"Simon and I are very happy with how we skated today. We're always striving to do more, and I know we can do even better," Castelli said.

"Maybe it was a little stiff and shaky in some spots, but, overall, it felt like the performance was right up there with how we have been training at home," Shnapir said. "We really wanted to go out with a bang today, and I think we accomplished that."

Anastasia Martiusheva and Alexei Rogonov of Russia are ranked fourth at 57.07 points, and Americans Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim placed fifth with 54.41 points.