Figure skating: German pair bow out with fifth world title

Germany's Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy compete during the pairs free skating program at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Saitama, north of Tokyo, on March 27, 2014. Germany's double Olympic figure skating bronze medallists Aliona
Germany's Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy compete during the pairs free skating program at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Saitama, north of Tokyo, on March 27, 2014. Germany's double Olympic figure skating bronze medallists Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy bowed out on a high with a fifth world pairs title on Thursday in their final competition before retirement. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

SAITAMA, Japan (AFP) - Germany's double Olympic figure skating bronze medallists Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy bowed out on a high with a fifth world pairs title on Thursday in their final competition before retirement.

In the absence of Olympic champions and main rivals, Russia's Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov, the German pair topped the table for a second straight day with 145.86 points in the free skate at the world championships in Saitama, near Tokyo.

They picked 224.88 points overall with Russia's Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov, second at last month's Sochi Game, moving up from overnight third spot to grab more silver medals with 215.92 points.

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada slipped to third spot at 210.84. Duhamel fell after a side-by-side triple salchow in a planned combination with two double toeloops.

Skating to Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker, Savchenko and Szolkowy hit a maximum level-four in two spins, two lifts and a backward outside death spiral.

But they under-rotated a side-by-side double Axel together.

"It was definitely a good programme, except for the tiny flaw with the double Axel," 34-year-old Szolkowy laughed. "I'm quite happy to have such a competition as the last memory of time of competitive skating."

Savchenko, four years his junior, recalled that the pair's first medal of their 10 world championship campaigns came in Tokyo in 2007 when they also won their first European title in what she called "the most beautiful moment" of their career.

"After that, it has been like an incredible story. It's hard to believe 11 years already passed," she said.

The pair won the world title in 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012 but finished third at the 2010 and 2014 Olympics.

In Sochi, they were second after the short programme but bungled on two elements in the free skate to settle for a bronze medal.

Savchenko said that winning five world titles was "obviously" the most memorable point of her career. But she added, "Each year has its own story."

Russia's Stolbova, 22, said after competing in her first worlds: "We knew it won't be easy (to win) and we came here with the goal to skate clean."

"But we know that we don't get it just because we were second at the Olympic Games."

The Canadian pair, seventh in Sochi and third at last year's worlds, managed to score a personal best in both short and free programmes.

"We had a little mistake but we really kept it together, fought really hard and managed to finish the programme strongly," said Radford. "We have a lot more we want to do."