Sui Wenjing, Han Cong recapture world pair title

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China’s Sui Wenjing and Han Cong captured their second World Championship title in on Thursday in Saitama, Japan.

The Olympic silver medalists only returned to major international competition a month ago, winning Four Continents in February. They skipped the fall season due to Sui’s lingering foot injury. Sui and Han won the 2017 world title after two years of silver medals.

They were sitting in second after the short program behind Russians Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, but scored 155.60 points in their clean free skate for a winning total overall score of 234.84 points. They also set the highest free skate score for the season en route to gold.

“We are very happy to have shown our best performance and to win this Championship. We had a tough time we could not prepare so well and did not have much time to practice. Our coaches and our team gave us a lot of support and we knew we can make it and get the title. Winning the second time was harder and it was a team effort,” Sui said, according to the ISU.

Tarasova and Morozov scored 147.26 in the free skate for 228.47 total points total, both season’s bests. They took home silver medals, to add to their 2017 bronze and 2018 silver medals from worlds.

Their Russian teammates Natalya Zabiyako and Aleksandr Enbert also skated a season’s best free skate, tallying 144.02 points and a total overall score of 217.98 points to capture the bronze, their first World medal.

Full results are here.

French pair Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres squandered their chances at a gold medal after the short program, where a messy performance left them in seventh place.

The Grand Prix Final gold medalists and European champions scored 146.52 in the free skate to finish with 215.19 points overall, landing in fifth place. Without anything to lose, they skated a relatively clean performance: James doubled a plan triple toe, double toe, double toe combination and put her foot down on the landing of the throw triple Salchow.

“We won’t give up until we get the World title,” the pair told the ISU. “The Worlds hasn’t been our best friend, but every time we come back stronger.”

The lone American pair at worlds, Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc, celebrated exuberantly in the Kiss and Cry with coaches Peter and Darlene Cain, Ashley’s parents. Despite Cain’s fall on the throw triple Salchow in the free skate, they finished in ninth place. They scored 126.88 in the free skate for 193.81 points overall.

By staying within the top-10 overall, the U.S. national champions secured two quota spots for the U.S. at the 2020 World Championships. The pair told NBCSports.com/figure-skating that was their goal all season, even with Cain’s concussion in December nearly derailing those plans.

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WE DID IT✌🏻✌🏻⁣ Goals for the season:⁣ •Win National title✅⁣ •Top ten at our first World Championships✅⁣ •Earn the two spots back for Team USA pairs✅⁣ We feel truly honored to be here in Japan and competing on behalf of Team USA! This season has been a pretty wild ride and it wouldn’t have been possible without the amazing team around us! Thank you to our coaches, our trainers, my family, my fiancé, US Figure Skating staff, the spectators, and all of our training mates back home! ⛸ “Whenever you find yourself doubting how far you can go, just remember how far you have come. Remember everything you have faced, all the battles you have won and all the fears you have overcome.” #WorldFigure

A post shared by Ashley Elizabeth Cain (@icegirlash) on

Also of note: Great Britain’s Zoe Jones, 39-year-old mother of three, competed with partner Christopher Boyadji. Jones is a former singles skater who retired in 2001 before coming back to the sport as a pair skater in 2014. They skated personal best scores in the short program, free skate and overall total and finished 17th in Japan.

The men’s short program gets underway at 3 a.m. ET Thursday.

MORE: How to watch the World Figure Skating Championships | Men’s Preview

As a reminder, you can watch the world championships live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

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Yevgenia Medvedeva selected for Worlds

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At first, Russia entered their picks for the 2019 World Championships though said they were subject to change on Monday. Double world champion Yevgenia Medvedeva and 2015 world champion Elizaveta Tuktamysheva were not on that initial list; instead, listed as alternates.

But Wednesday, Russia’s skating federation made it official, deciding to send Medvedeva, the Olympic silver medalist; Alina Zagitova, the Olympic champion; and Sofia Samodurova, who beat Zagitova at Europeans to win the title there last month. Medvedeva also had won the selection competition on Saturday.

Worlds will take place March 18-24 in Saitama, Japan.

Tuktamysheva and Stanislava Konstantinova, who finished fourth at Europeans, were named the alternates. Tuktamysheva had missed Russian nationals due to a hospitalization with pneumonia and finished second at the selection competition. She also won bronze at the Grand Prix Final.

Neither the men’s nor pairs’ lineups changed from the preliminary list, and Russia still plans to send Maxim Kovtun, Mikhail Kolyada, Alexander Samarin, plus pairs Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov; Natalia Zabiyako and Alexander Enbert; and Alexandra Boikova and Dmitri Kozlovsky.

Russia has two ice dance spots for Worlds and are sending Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov and Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin (read NBCSports’ interview with the team here). Both teams were at the Grand Prix Final and finished with silver and in fourth, respectively.

MORE: Yevgenia Medvedeva responds to social media criticism

As a reminder, you can watch the world championships live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

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Russia submits names for 2019 world team, without world champions Medvedeva, Tuktamysheva; changes are still possible

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Russia released their preliminary entries for the 2019 World Championships on Monday, designating 2015 world champion Elizaveta Tuktamysheva and double world champion Yevgenia Medvedeva as alternates so far.

Instead, Russia will send Olympic champion Alina Zagitova, new European champion Sofia Samodurova, and Stanislava Konstantinova, who finished fourth at Europeans last month.

Russian media reported that there may still be changes made to the lineup, as there was not adequate time before the conclusion of a Russian selection competition and the entry deadline. Tuktamysheva was also given an assignment to the World University Games, alongside Konstantinova; Medvedeva, who won that selection competition on Saturday, is currently listed as an alternate for that event as well.

The rest of Russia’s lineup includes:

Men: Maxim Kovtun, Mikhail Kolyada, Alexander Samarin

Pairs: Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov; Natalia Zabiyako and Alexander Enbert; and Alexandra Boikova and Dmitri Kozlovsky

Ice dance: Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov; Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin (read NBCSports’ interview with the team here); and Sofia Evdokimova and Igor Bazin

MORE: Armed with new attitude, Michal Brezina is having his best season yet

As a reminder, you can watch the world championships live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!