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Highs and lows from 2013 World Championships

Reporters Rutherford, Rosewater take a look back at the week that was in London, Ontario

There was not a greater highlight at the 2013 World Championships than the otherwordly performances of Yu-Na Kim.
There was not a greater highlight at the 2013 World Championships than the otherwordly performances of Yu-Na Kim. (Getty Images)

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By Lynn Rutherford and Amy Rosewater, special to icenetwork.com
(03/18/2013) - After spending last week in London, Ontario, for the 2013 World Figure Skating Championships, here are some observations from icenetwork.com's reporters, Lynn Rutherford and Amy Rosewater.

Highlights

1. Patrick Chan's short program: Having struggled all season to regain his past form and competing with the added pressure of being the favorite in his home country of Canada, Chan performed absolutely exquisitely in his Rachmaninoff short program, racking up a deserved world-record score of 98.37 points. He said he felt a surge going through his body at the end of the program. So did everyone else in the Budweiser Gardens.

2. The short program and free skate -- both to music from the film The Artist -- of Denis Ten: The 19-year-old from Kazakhstan delighted the crowd both nights, and some left the building after the free skate (which he won) convinced he should have been the overall winner. Give credit to Frank Carroll and choreographer Lori Nichol for truly making this kid an artist on the ice. And a bonus -- unlike the silent film, Ten is actually quite a talker. He provided reporters with some of the best lines of the week. Among them: "When I started skating in Kazakhstan, we only had open rinks and could only skate in the winter. We had a very cold winter. I remember my mother putting three pairs of pants on me. I looked like a cabbage."

3. Yu-Na Kim: Time away from competing at the world championships certainly has not cost the Queen. From the moment she arrived for her first practice in London until she dazzled the crowd with her Les Misérables free skate, Kim gave no one reason to doubt she is the favorite for the ladies competition at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, less than a year from now. Should she defend her Olympic crown in Sochi, Russia, she would be the first woman to do so since Katarina Witt in 1984 and 1988.

4. Zijun Li: Had she not fallen in the short program on her triple-triple combination, this 16-year-old would have gotten much more attention here. Still, the Chinese skater, making her worlds debut, was absolutely stunning in the free skate (placing fourth) and was seventh overall. If she can put it all together, she could make things interesting in Sochi.

5. Meryl Davis and Charlie White: The U.S. ice dancers regained their spot on top of the world podium, capping an undefeated season in the process. The score for their Giselle short dance (77.12) set a world record. Making the victory even sweeter was that they beat their Canadian rivals, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, in their hometown.

6. Russian pairs: The Russians failed to reach the podium in pairs at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, marking the first time since 1960 that the country had been shut out. The Russians won't make that mistake again in Sochi -- especially if Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov skate anywhere near the way they did in London. They beat four-time German world champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy by more than 20 points, and every one of their 225.71 points was deserved.

7. Max Aaron: Good to see his worlds debut went over well. He landed two of his three planned quads, finishing seventh overall and positioning himself well for Sochi. He might even grow the sport by bringing in hockey fans. The former hockey player's head hit the boards following a quad during a warmup for the short program, and he crashed into the boards after landing a triple Axel in his free skate. For Aaron, fortunately, neither hit was too hard.

8. U.S. women: Ashley Wagner and Gracie Gold did not reach the podium, finishing fifth and sixth, respectively, but they did something just as important for the hopes of U.S. ladies figure skating: earn three spots for the Olympic Games. The last time three women represented the United States at a worlds or Olympic Winter Games was 2008.

Lowlights

1. German pairs: Savchenko and Szolkowy typically wow crowds with eccentric and energetic programs, but neither one of their routines in London did that. And their free skate to a flamenco version of "Bolero" was so unemotional that not even their Hail Mary attempt -- a throw triple Axel at the end of the routine (which was not well executed) -- could save them. They settled for silver, but the crowd booed their scores, as they believed they should have finished behind Canada's Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, who were third.

2. Qing Pang and Jian Tong: The 2006 and 2010 world champions looked nothing like their old selves at this event, and it was a shame to see them place fifth. A lifetime of strong skating has taken its toll on their bodies, and it showed in their skating this season.

3. Virtue and Moir's short dance: Virtually everyone in the building wanted to see this team do well, and for ice dancing overall, it is best when both Davis and White and Virtue and Moir push each other with strong skates. But in the short dance, she botched a twizzle that proved to be costly. It would have been much more fun to see a good fight in the free dance.

4. Chan's free skate: After opening with two quads and exuding confidence, it looked as if Chan was going to produce two of the best programs of the event. But it was not meant to be, as he fell twice, once uncharacteristically on a triple Lutz. He did show he was a class act afterward, apologizing to the crowd for skating so poorly. Fans can cry "Chanflation," as they do on Twitter, but he is not the one in charge of the judging.

5. Ross Miner: The American entered this event hoping to finish among the top 10, perhaps as high as top six, but wound up 14th. Said Miner: "Every time I get to go out there and compete against the big boys, it's an opportunity to learn something from them and to learn about myself in pressure situations. Whether this competition went excellently or poorly, I can still take something from it and use it to my advantage the next time I compete."

6. Russian ladies: Having placed two women on the podium at the 2013 European Championships and having a third woman entering these worlds as the defending silver medalist should have boded well for Russia, but it did anything but. Adelina Sotnikova was Russia's top ladies finisher, in ninth, followed by Elizaveta Tuktamisheva in 10th and Alena Leonova, the aforementioned world silver medalist, in 13th. The Russians now only have two spots for the Winter Games, which should have been a showcase on Russian soil.