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Lipinski leads as Kwan falters

Michelle Kwan's step out of a jump at the World Figure Skating Championships Friday was a small mistake but big enough to give U.S. champion Tara Lipinski a clear run at becoming the youngest world champion.

Lipinski, 14, led going into today's final after a clean short program that packed in spins and spirals before the first leap. It showed that Lipinski, who finished only 15th last year, has grown up.

Kwan's stumble dropped the 1996 world champion to fourth, behind Vanessa Gusmeroli and Maria Butyrskaya.

Even after winning the U.S. title last month, then winning an international competition at Hamilton, Ontario, Lipinski's mind was on last year's disappointing short program that included two falls and a 23rd-place finish that just got her into the final. "It felt great being able to do a clean short this year," Lipinski said. "It gave me a lot of confidence."

Oksana Gritschuk and Yevgeny Platov of Russia won the ice dance title for the fourth consecutive time, with a performance that earned two 6.0s. Angelika Krylova and Oleg Ovsiannikov of Russia finished second. Third went to Canadians Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz, completing the same top three at last year's worlds.

The Canadians were awarded a first by the Canadian judge, who favored them over Gritschuk and Platov throughout the competition.