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French ice dancers win third world title; first medal for U.S. champs

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French Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron won their third world title, one month after an Olympic silver medal, while U.S. champions Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue earned their first world medal, a silver in Milan on Saturday.

Papadakis and Cizeron captured their third world title in four years by breaking world records in the short and free dances. The pre-event favorites totaled 207.20 points and prevailed by 10.56 over training partners Hubbell and Donohue.

Canadians Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje grabbed bronze.

It’s the largest margin of victory in ice dance at an Olympics or worlds since the 6.0 system was thrown out in 2004.

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Papadakis and Cizeron’s score would have won the Olympics by 1.13 over Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who skipped worlds and may never compete again. Papadakis’ dress came undone in their short dance in South Korea, exposing her breast, though they were just .14 off their personal-best short dance score at the time.

Hubbell and Donohue became the fourth different American couple to earn an Olympic or world medal in five seasons. They broke Meryl Davis and Charlie White‘s U.S. record for total score set in winning the Sochi Olympics.

It’s been a breakout year for the newest stars in the U.S.’ deepest figure skating discipline.

Hubbell and Donohue won their first national title in January after placing third or fourth the previous six years and were fourth at their first Olympics, giving up a potential bronze with Donohue’s fall in the free dance. Donohue also fell in the 2017 Worlds free dance after they were third in the short.

“We’ve done a lot of work toppling our demons, the fear, or all the what-ifs that go through our mind,” Hubbell said. “We had a history of making some errors and giving up our place.”

The French and U.S. couples shared coaches in Montreal the last two seasons, along with Virtue and Moir.

“Our goal is to get drunk together as many times as we can,” Cizeron said, drawing laughter at a press conference before adding, “that’s a joke.”

The world field lacked the Olympic gold and bronze medalists (Virtue and Moir and American siblings Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani). Medalists often skip the post-Olympic world championships due to off-ice opportunities, exhaustion or retirement.

The second U.S. couple in Milan, two-time world medalists Madison Chock and Evan Bates, were fifth after placing ninth at the Olympics, where they tangled skates and both fell in the free dance.

The third U.S. couple, 2014 World junior champions Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, improved from 15th after the short dance to finish 10th overall in their senior worlds debut.

The U.S. put three couples in the top 10 at worlds for the seventh time in eight seasons.

The 2018-19 figure skating season starts in earnest in October with Skate America in Everett, Wash.

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Adam Rippon, Shibutanis to miss figure skating worlds

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Adam Rippon and Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani withdrew from the world figure skating championships in three weeks, joining a list of Olympic medalists who will miss the event in Milan, Italy.

Rippon is replaced by Max Aaron, who joins PyeongChang Olympians Nathan Chen and Vincent Zhou in making up the three-man U.S. team.

Aaron was the third alternate behind Sochi Olympian Jason Brown and U.S. silver medalist Ross Miner, who passed on the worlds spot after Rippon gave it up. A rep for Rippon did not specify why he decided against worlds.

Rippon, an Olympic team event bronze medalist, said after he finished 10th in singles in PyeongChang that he didn’t know if he would compete at worlds.

Many skaters skip the world championships after the Olympics due to exhaustion or off-the-ice opportunities.

The Shibutani siblings were the lone Americans to earn Olympic medals outside of the team event. They said earlier this week that they were unsure if they would compete at worlds.

They are replaced in the worlds field by Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, who were fourth at nationals.

Other notable skaters missing worlds:

Patrick Chan (CAN) — Widely reported to have retired
Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford (CAN) — Retired
Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir (CAN) — Possibly retiring
Javier Fernandez (ESP) — Possibly retiring

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MORE: Best figure skating moments from PyeongChang Olympics