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

Canadian Olympic Committee president quits amid sexual harassment inquiry

Marcel Aubut
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MONTREAL (AP) — Marcel Aubut has resigned as president of the Canadian Olympic Committee while under investigation for a sexual harassment complaint.

The committee said in a statement Saturday its investigation now ends. Since the original complaint, two other women made allegations against Aubut.

The committee calls the matter “deeply concerning,” saying it has had a “profound impact on our Olympic family.” The committee adds that its board will begin the process of appointing an interim president in the coming days.

Aubut already had temporarily stepped aside as committee president and chairman of the Canadian Olympic Foundation. The committee had retained a former chief justice of the Quebec Superior Court to investigate the initial complaint.

The 67-year-old Aubut was CEO of the NHL’s Quebec Nordiques until the team moved to Colorado in 1995. He was inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1999.

MORE CANADA: Canada’s return to Olympic basketball on hold after heartbreaking loss

China becomes ninth team in Olympic men’s basketball field

Yi Jianlian
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China is set to play in its ninth straight Olympic men’s basketball tournament after beating the Philippines 78-67 in the FIBA Asia Championship on Saturday.

The Chinese were guided by former NBA power forward Yi Jianlian, a three-time Olympian who led the team in scoring and rebounding at the last Olympics. Yi scored 11 points with 15 rebounds Saturday.

Yi and company kept the Philippines, with former NBA forward Andray Blatche, from qualifying for the Olympics for the first time since 1972. Blatche scored a team-leading 17 points.

China went 0-5 at London 2012, failing to win a game at an Olympics for the first time since 1992. Now-retired Yao Ming led the team in 2000, 2004 and 2008, but the nation has never reached the Olympic semifinals.

The 2016 Olympic men’s basketball field:

Brazil — Host nation
U.S. — 2014 World champion
Australia — Oceania champion
Nigeria — Africa champion
Argentina — Americas finalist
Venezuela — Americas finalist
Spain — Europe finalist
Lithuania — Europe finalist
China — Asia champion
Three winners of three July global, last-chance qualifying tournaments

The three last-chance qualifying tournament fields will be six nations each, including three to-be-named, wild-card nations, plus these 15 nations:

Serbia — 2014 World silver medalist
— 2014 World bronze medalist
Greece — last Olympics: 2008
Italy — last Olympics: 2004
Czech Republic — last Olympics: Never
Puerto Rico — last Olympics: 2004
Canada — last Olympics: 2000
Mexico — last Olympics: 1976
Iran — last Olympics: 2008
Japan — last Olympics: 1976
Philippines — last Olympics: 1972
Tunisia — only Olympic appearance was 2012
Angola — last Olympics: 2008
Senegal — last Olympics: 1980
New Zealand — last Olympics: 2004

MORE BASKETBALL: Lithuania is second European nation to make Rio hoops field