Olympians Madison Chock and Evan Bates paced the World Championships short dance with a career-best score and now hope to become the second U.S. couple to take a World ice dancing title.
Chock and Bates, who were eighth at the Sochi Olympics and fifth at the 2014 Worlds, totaled 74.47 in the short dance in Shanghai on Wednesday. They lead by 1.79 points going into the free dance Friday (full standings here).
If Chock and Bates keep their lead through the free dance, they will join Sochi gold medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White as the only U.S. ice dancers to win a World title.
Davis and White, the 2011 and 2013 World champions, haven’t competed since the Sochi Winter Games and may never do so again.
On Friday, Chock and Bates will have to hold off Canadian rivals Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, who placed second in the short dance.
Weaver and Poje were also second to Chock and Bates in the short dance at the Four Continents Championships in Seoul in February, only to jump ahead of the Americans in the free dance.
“We know we can’t rest,” Bates said, according to The Associated Press. “We have to absolutely attack the (long) program and skate as though we were coming from behind.”
Italian defending World champions Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte were third, .29 of a point behind the Canadians.
“It’s been hard, especially with everyone expecting things from us because we’re the World champions,” Cappellini said, according to the AP. “We wanted to push through maybe too much. Looking back, I don’t know if maybe we should have taken a little time off and recharged [after last season].”
World Championships Short Dance
1. Madison Chock/Evan Bates (USA) — 74.47
2. Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje (CAN) — 72.68
3. Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte (ITA) — 72.39
4. Gabriella Papadakis/Guillaume Cizeron (FRA) — 71.94
5. Yelena Ilinykh/Ruslan Zhiganshin (RUS) — 69.46
6. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) — 69.32
11. Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue (USA) — 61.43