Anna Cappellini, Luca Lanotte

Cappellini and Lanotte hold on for surprise ice dance title

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Even without the top two teams in the world, the ice dance competition at the World Figure Skating Championships brimmed with drama.

Saturday afternoon it concluded with the the three podium spots separated by just 0.06 points, Italy’s Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte edging out Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje of Canada (second) and France’s Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat (third) by the smallest of fractions for gold.

Top-ranked duos Meryl Davis and Charlie White and Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir skipped the World Championships after winning gold and silver, respectively, at the Sochi Olympics, but that didn’t seem to matter to the Saitama, Japan, audience, which was enraptured with a genuine fight to the finish.

Cappellini and Lanotte, Italy’s first world champions in ice dance since Barbara Fusar-Poli and Maurizio Margaglio won in 2001, were fourth in the free dance, but held on for the gold thanks to their lead after the short dance.

More: Hanyu roars back for men’s title | Savchenko/Szolkowy win in pairs

“We really have no words. We’re in complete shock,” Cappellini told the crowd after their win. “It was such a long season and we were really at the end of our energy. I was already happy with the way that we performed.”

Yelena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov, bronze medalists in Sochi, won the free dance, though their efforts left them in fourth after a poor short program had them in fifth place coming into Saturday.

Ilinykh/Katsalapov skated with extra fire on the ice Saturday as rumors swirled around Worlds that they would disband as a team after the competition, allegations they denied.

Katsalapov let out an impassioned yell as they finished their darkened portrayal of “Swan Lake,” which was instrumental in their podium finish at the Olympics last month.

More: Final ice dance standings, scores

The U.S. had plenty to be proud of, though this marks the first time since 2008 that no American ice dancers landed on the podium.

Madison Chock and Evan Bates were fifth overall and brother-sister duo Maia and Alex Shibutani finished sixth, moving up from eighth- and ninth-place efforts at the Olympics.

It was a second Worlds bronze for Pechalat/Bourzat in three years, the French veterans who at 30 and 33, respectively, are said to be skating at their final competition. It was their 11th World Championships.

Weaver/Poje skated last Saturday afternoon, their Latin medley filled with flair and passion. When their score flashed on the screen they had to double check their opponents’ efforts, Poje confirming their silver-medal status.

“Second,” he said in the Kiss and Cry. “Second.”

Cappellini broke down in tears when the score for her and Lanotte was shown, their short dance providing the cushion they needed to hold onto the world title. This is their first world championship medal of any kind, coming on the heels of their first-ever European Championships title in January. They were sixth in Sochi.

“This was an amazing week for us,” Lanotte said. “Just amazing.”

Ice dance overall standings
2. Kaitlyn WEAVER/Andrew POJE CAN 175.41
3. Nathalie PECHALAT/Fabian BOURZAT FRA 175.37
4. Yelena ILINYKH/Nikita KATSALAPOV RUS 174.38
5. Madison CHOCK/Evan BATES USA 167.59
17. Alexandra ALDRIDGE/Daniel EATON USA 137.37

Pyeongchang 2018 video looks at Olympic venues, slogan

Pyeongchang 2018
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Pyeongchang Olympic organizers published a promotional video Friday highlighting the South Korean host’s venues and its slogan, “Passion. Connected.”

The video highlights South Korea’s history of hosting major sports events — the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, the 2002 FIFA World Cup across Japan and South Korea and the 2011 World Track and Field Championships in Daegu — which was also a point during its host city candidacy several years ago.

Pyeongchang finally earned the right to host the Olympics after finishing second in voting for the 2010 Winter Games (losing by three votes) and the 2014 Winter Games (losing by four votes).

The Opening Ceremony on Feb. 9, 2018, will mark the first Winter Games in East Asia in 20 years.

The slogan was announced on May 16, 2015.

MORE: Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic news

Australia gold medalist swimmer gets mole removed after heads-up from fan

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 06:  Mack Horton of Australia celebrates winning gold in the Final of the Men's 400m Freestyle on Day 1 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium on August 6, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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Mack Horton, the Olympic 400m freestyle champion, said he had a mole on his chest removed after a fan emailed his Australian swim team doctor alerting to get it checked out.

Horton said he believed the concerned fan may have been a skin specialist, according to the (Melbourne) Herald Sun.

“I’ve been watching this mole for a little while, Mack should probably go and get it checked out,” Horton said the fan said in an email to the doctor, according to the report. “They just looked at it [Thursday] and said let’s take it out now.

“They checked my whole body and then looked at this one and said we’d rather do it sooner rather than later.”

Horton joked on Australian TV that he probably owes the fan a free swim lesson.

“Sometimes I was blasé and sometimes I’d see it in the mirror and say, ‘I probably should get this one checked out,’ because I had noticed it had been changing a little bit, but I guess this person calling me out on it made me finally go and do it, which was a good thing,” Horton said, according to the newspaper.

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