Russians Sinitsina, Katsalapov take early lead over U.S. teams in race for first ice dance world title

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With the absence of four-time world champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France, ice dance was the only discipline at the 2021 ISU World Figure Skating Championships guaranteed to crown a new world champion.

Viktoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov, representing the Russian Skating Federation this year, lead two U.S. teams in the tightly contested battle for gold midway through the competition, scoring 88.15 points for their “Singin’ in the Rain” rhythm dance on Friday.

After taking the silver medal at the last world championships in 2019, Sinitsina and Katsalapov are on their way to earning the first ice dance world title for Russia since 2009.

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Challenging them are Americans Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, and Madison Chock and Evan Bates. Both teams have earned silver and bronze medals at past world championships, but this year could become the first U.S. world champions since Meryl Davis and Charlie White in 2013.

“The goal is to win the gold,” three-time Olympian Bates said after the competition.

Hubbell and Donohue’s “Burlesque” program earned 86.05 points – a new IJS personal best for the team, while Chock and Bates’ “Too Darn Hot” performance, which they kept from the 2019-2020 season, are less than one point behind with 85.15.

Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, three-time U.S. bronze medalists, sit in 11th with 75.08 points.

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Russians Sinitsina, Katsalapov take early lead over U.S. teams in race for first ice dance world title originally appeared on NBCSports.com