• The Associated Press


Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo became pairs champions for the third time Wednesday at the World Figure Skating Championships.

They won the world titles in 2002 and 2003 but missed the championships the last two years because of injuries.

Skating a lyrical program to “Meditation” by Massenet, the two-time Olympic bronze medalists had the top technical feats of the evening, while combining artistry to score an international best of 203.50 points.

They had two throws that covered a lot of ice after the three-minute mark. They also did double axels from close pair spread eagle position with their bodies nearly touching before the jump.

Last year’s world champions, Pang Qing and Tong Jian of China were a distant second with 188.46.

Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany, the European champions, were third at 187.39.

North American couples finished down the standings. Canadians Valerie Marcoux and Craig Buntin were sixth and Americans Rena Inoue and John Baldwin were eighth after she fell three times on a jump and two throw moves.

Two couples withdrew. Russians Maria Petrova and Alexei Tikhonov, the 2000 world champions, pulled out earlier in the day with her having right leg pain.

Poles Dorota and Mariusz Siudek, skating their final competition, withdrew after warming up with him bending over in pain and her in tears.

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