Figure Skating - Home ice no advantage to Virtue and Moir

It was Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir's home turf but Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White owned the ice, taking the lead in the figure skating world championship ice dance with a dazzling short program in Ontario.

Figure Skating - 50 to watch: Virtue and Moir eye second gold

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Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada skate their short program in the dance competition at the 2013 World Figure Skating Championships in London, Ontario (AFP)

The short dance represented a home-coming of sorts for Canadians Virtue and Moir, who grew up just minutes from the London arena hosting the championships.

But the Olympic and world champions could not keep the American invaders from spoiling the party as Davis and White seized control of the competition with a career best mark of 77.12.

Despite some uncharacteristic bobbles, Virtue and Moir remain in contention to defend their crown with a score of 73.87 but will have to produce something special in Saturday's free dance if they are to continue their world championship reign.

"We are further behind then we would like to be," admitted Virtue. "I don't think it changes our job on Saturday and we are going to attack the program, we have nothing to lose and we're confident in "Carmen".

Russia's Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev sat third but it was clear the fight for gold will again come down to a battle between Virtue and Moir and Davis and White.

The two couples have dominated the ice dance scene taking the top two spots at the last three world championships and Vancouver Olympics.

While the Americans had to settle for silver behind the Canadians at the 2010 Winter Games and again at last year's world championships, Davis and White have had the better of their training partners this season, finishing in first place at the Grand Prix finals and Four Continents.

"All the best hockey teams prepare for an away game and play like it's at home," said White. "It definitely was a very special performance for us.

"You put so much effort in throughout the year that when you are able to perform like that the worlds it means a lot."

Home ice had proven a huge advantage for Canadians competing in events before the ice dance with five skaters posting personal bests.

But with hundreds of family and friends looking on, Virtue and Moir were unable to rise to the occasion, noticeably out of unison at times.

"The feeling of skating in our home town there is nothing like it," said Moir. "We felt the energy right from the warm-up to the very end of the program. I was happy with that program.

"We find ourselves in a little bit of hole but the competition is not over yet."

Virtue and Moir were not the only skaters disappointed with their marks on Thursday.

Kim Yuna would have given herself a perfect score for her short program and although judges did not see it the same way the South Korean Olympic champion still earned top marks.

Making a comeback after nearly two years on the sidelines, Kim's short skate to the dark and brooding music from "Kiss of the Vampire" was impressive but far from the perfection the 22-year-old skater thought it deserved.

Taking part in just her third competition since a 20 month sabbatical, Kim displayed no signs of rust or nerves as she ran through a clean and graceful short program landing all her jumps, including a triple lutz-triple toe loop combination to kick off her routine, earning a mark of 69.97.

Kim's run of having medalled in every competition she has entered seems ready to continue in Ontario.

She will go into Saturday's free skate with a comfortable lead over reigning world champion Carolina Kostner of Italy, who secured second place with a mark of 66.86 despite crashing to the ice on her opening combination. Japan's Kanako Murakami was third on 66.64.

Kim's rivalry with Mao Asada was expected to provide one of the great highlights of these championship but the showdown lost much of its pizzazz when the Japanese double world champion could finish no better than sixth.

"I wasn't as nervous as I imagined," said Kim, world champion in 2009. "It has been a long time since I competed in such a big venue with a lot of people filling the venue but in the end because I focused on my practices I knew that I was doing well in the practices so I felt good."

Kaetlyn Osmond added to a growing string of sizzling home ice performances by Canadian skaters taking fourth spot in her world championship debut.

The 17-year-old skater, who trains in a rink amid the shoppers and bargain hunters at the West Edmonton Mall, produced a flawless short program to earn a personal best mark of 64.73 and a thundering ovation.

Described as a "show off" by coach Ravi Walia, Osmond has all the qualities of a natural born entertainer embracing the crowd and channelling that energy into a generous performance.

As Canada's lone entrant in the women's competition there may be more riding on Osmond's performance than other Canadian here and that pressure is sure to be ratcheted up on Saturday.

A top 10 result by the precocious teen will qualify Canadian women for two spots at next year's Sochi Olympics.

"It is a little shocking I was going into the season to see what happens and to go out there and to win my first international and my first Grand Prix it was just unbelievable," said Osmond, who struggled to a 10th place finish at the junior worlds a year ago.

"It's just unbelievable to see how much has progressed so fast."

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