Emotional Savchenko, Massot add world to Olympic title

Emmeline MOORE
Record breakers: Germany's Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot on their way to the world title

Olympic champions Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot` capped a golden season when they smashed the world record to claim pairs gold at the world figure skating championships on Thursday.

The German duo produced a stunning free skate to 'La Terre vue du ciel' by Armand Amar to better their gold medal-winning performance in Pyeongchang with a new world record score of 162.86 points in the free skate.

"It was hard, but it was magical," said an emotional Massot who dropped to his knees to kiss the ice along with his partner after their performance.

"Physically we were tired, we didn’t have much of preparation, and so we really did it thanks to mental strength, with our hearts."

They also achieved a new world record overall score of 245.84 points for their first title together after teaming up in October 2014.

"At the end, I kissed the ice and thanked the ice,” Savchenko said.

Two-time European champions Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov of Russia moved up from bronze last year to take silver, over 20 points behind.

Savchenko, 24, and French-born Massot, 29, were the only Olympic pairs medallists to compete in worlds.

"Thinking about family who could not be at the Olympics was very motivating to skate here," said Savchenko, who claimed her sixth world title having won five with previous partner Robin Szolkowy.

"That is why we gave all our energy we had inside, that is why it was so emotional."

The Ukrainian-born skater matches Norwegian legend Sonja Henie for the female record of 11 world championships medals.

The pair were buoyed by the crowed who gave them a standing ovation and they watched in amazement as their scores came up including 21 perfect 10.00s.

France's Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres claimed their first podium as she battled back after a fall on a throw triple salchow in her skate to Simon & Garfunkel's 'Sound of Silence'. They scored 218.36.

"I got the wind knocked out of me but I've learned that a mistake can't win or lose a competition it's what you do next that is important," said James.

"We've always dreamed of this podium," added Canadian-born James who teamed up with Cipres in 2010.

"It has been a bumpy and totally amazing journey with Morgan."

- Chen redeems himself -

Earlier US teenager Nathan Chen credited his Olympic meltdown with maturing him as a skater as he grabbed the lead in the men's short programme.

The 18-year-old from Salt Lake City had gone into the Olympics among the favourites after winning the ISU Grand Prix final.

But nerves in his short programme in Pyeongchang saw him slump to 17th before pulling out a record six quad jumps in the free skating final to finish fifth.

"That much media attention got a bit in my head during the Games," conceded Chen of the hype although he took team bronze with the United States.

"I hope to redeem myself."

Olympic gold medallist Yuzuru Hanyu -- the reigning world champion -- has skipped worlds with an ankle injury, and there was another blow for Japan with title-hope Shoma Uno struggling in fifth after picking up an ankle injury in training.

Chen opened up a 1.86-point lead on Russia's Mikhail Kolyada as he bids to capture the Japanese star Hanyu's crown.

Chen's 17-year-old US teammate Vincent Zhou, third five points adrift of his countryman.

The competition continues on Friday with Olympic champion Alina Zagitova of Russia looking to claim her first world gold to cap a first senior season in which she has won everything.

The 15-year-old trails Italian veteran Carolina Kostner, 31, by just 0.76 points.

France's Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron begin their bid for a third world title starting with the ice dance short dance.