Stolbova, Klimov come out of shadows with pairs gold

Emmeline Moore

Barcelona (AFP) - Russia's Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov finally came out of the shadows to claim pairs gold with a flawless display in the ISU Grand Prix Final of figure skating on Friday.

Stolbova, 23, and Klimov, 25, have often settled for second with silver medals at the last two European championships, the Sochi Olympics and world championships in 2014.

The Russian pair also finished second last season in the Grand Prix Final in Barcelona behind Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford.

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But skating to Danny Elfman's 'Man and Shadow' they pulled out the biggest free skate of their careers, scoring a new personal best 154.60 points for an overall total of 229.44 to take their first major title ahead of the Canadian world champions.

"We are very happy that we finally managed to skate clean this season and did all the elements for the first time in competition and we are very happy with this medal," said Klimov.

The Moscow-based pair did not include a quadruple throw in their routine like their rivals but a triple toe-triple toe-double toe combination, triple twist, throw triple Salchow and flip were enough.

"In this competition it was enough to do a clean programme with good jumps but in future I think we need to do more high level elements like a quad throw," Klimov said.

Stolbova and Klimov's score was the second best ever and just 0.06 lower than the record 154.66 achieved by compatriots Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov in Skate America in 2013.

Duhamel and Radford's routine to Adele's 'Hometown Glory' was technically challenging with a side-by-side triple lutz and a throw quadruple Salchow, but Duhamel stumbled on the throw triple lutz.

The 2015 world champions scored 143.93 points, their season's best to move up from third after the short progamme with 216.67 points.

"Eric and I are really proud about our performance today," said Duhamel. "We felt more comfortable with this programme and we executed it much better than the short programme and we are proud to have this medal."

Russia's Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov rallied after she fell twice early in their routine to Tchaikovsky's 'Manfred Symphony'.

The European champions came back strong with a throw quadruple Salchow, throw triple loop and difficult lifts, scoring 132.95 points, but slipping from second to third with 206.59.

-- Russian teens --

In the women's competition, Russian 16-year-olds Evgenia Medvedeva and Elena Radionova took the top two places after the short programme.

Medvedeva scored her season's best 74.58 points with Radionova on 69.43 and Japan's Mao Asada third with 69.13 going into Saturday's free skating final.

In ice dancing, Canadians Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje got their title defence off to a strong start in the short dance.

The Skate Canada and Cup of Russia winners posted their season's best 72.75 for their waltz and polka selection to the music of Johann Strauss.

"We felt great with all parts of our work. There's something very pleasant and familiar about being back in Barcelona, the crowd feel to be behind us all the way," said Weaver.

"It's good to be in this position and we're looking forward to tomorrow."

World silver medallists Madison Chock and Evan Bates of the United States are close behind on 71.64, with 2014 world champions Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte of Italy third (70.14).

Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu will bid for a third consecutive men's title on Saturday as he leads Spain's Javier Fernandez going into the free programme on the final day of competition.

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