Chinese pair dominates

Shen and Zhao scored a personal best - and an international best - with 71.07 points.

ice skating 88 (photo credit: )
ice skating 88
(photo credit: )
Two-time world champions Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo of China skated their best short program at the World Figure Skating Championships on Tuesday to take the lead in pairs and relegate the defending champions to third. Shen and Zhao scored a personal best - and an international best - with 71.07 points. Pang Qing and Tong Jian of China finished third with a 66.75 points, while the German pair of Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy were second with 67.65 going into the final skate. Taking the lead was a major break for Shen and Zhao, who are looking for their third world title after injuries forced them to miss the last two worlds. Their previous best was 70.52 points, which they scored at the Grand Prix Final in December 2004 in Beijing. The pairs gold, to be decided Wednesday, will be the first of the championships. Earlier Tuesday, Patrice Lauzon and Marie-France Dubreuil of Canada took the lead in the ice dancing competition after the compulsory rumba, but with a tight, four-couple pack behind them. Dubreuil and Lauzon scored 38.96 points, more than 11⁄2 points ahead of last year's world champions, Albena Denkova and Maxim Staviski of Bulgaria, who were second with 37.42. Behind them, Oksana Domina and Maxim Shalbalin of Russia, Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder of France and US champions Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto were all in a bunch - the Russians had 37.29 points, the French had 37.20 and Belbin and Agosto had 37.17. The original dance, to be contested Thursday, is the next portion of the competition. Zaretskis in 13th place Alexandra and Roman Zaretski of Israel are in 13th place after the first day. They have 28.85 points in Ice Dancing Compulsory Dance. The brother and sister team finished 11th in the European Championships less than two months ago. They will compete in original dance on Thursday and free dance on Friday. The Zaretskis hope to improve on their 20th-place showing in last year's World Championships. Sergai Kotov of Israel will perform his short program on Wednesday in the men's competition. Tamar Katz will skate for the first time on Friday in the women's short program. Allon Sinai contributed to this report.