U.S. pairs outside top five after World Championships short program

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U.S. pairs champions Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim were out of sync on their side-by-side triple Salchows and placed seventh in the World Championships short program in Shanghai on Wednesday.

Scimeca and Knierim, who are aiming for top six at Worlds, enter the free skate Thursday trailing Canadian leaders Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford by 11.48 points (full standings here).

“We had to fight through some of it, and we had little errors here and there, but overall it was great and our season’s best [short program score], so we are happy,” said Knierim, according to U.S. Figure Skating.

U.S. silver medalists Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier were one spot behind Scimeca and Knierim, in eighth place in the short program.

The two U.S. pairs’ results must add up to no greater than 13 to earn the maximum three berths at the 2016 World Championships in Boston. Scimeca and Knierim and Denney and Frazier must improve by a combined two places in the free skate to reach 13.

“We would like to be in the top six overall,” said Scimeca, according to U.S. Figure Skating. “We know we have to skate a near-perfect long to make that happen, but we believe in ourselves.”

The U.S. has not had three pairs spots at Worlds since 2003, hasn’t won a Worlds medal since 2002 and hasn’t won an Olympic medal since 1988, its longest droughts of all four figure skating disciplines.

Duhamel and Radford, the two-time reigning World bronze medalists and pre-event favorites, scored .03 off their personal best in the short program. They are undefeated this season and seeking to be the first Canadian pair to win Worlds gold since Jamie Sale and David Pelletier in 2001.

The reigning Russian Olympic champions Tatyana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov and reigning German World champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy are not competing in Shanghai this week.

Pairs Short Program
1. Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford (CAN) — 76.98
2. Qing Pang/Jian Tong (CHN) — 72.59
3. Wenjing Sui/Cong Han (CHN) — 71.63
4. Yuko Kavaguti/Aleksander Smirnov (RUS) — 71.59
5. Cheng Peng/Hao Zhang (CHN) — 69.67
7. Alexa Scimeca/Chris Knierim (USA) — 65.56
8. Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier (USA) — 61.32

World Figure Skating Championships schedule