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Kwan takes early lead; U.S. pair earns bronze

Published Sep. 2, 2005

Michelle Kwan reacted as if she struck gold, even though the title was still two rounds away.

Kyoko Ina was dismayed, even though she helped the United States win its first medal at the World Figure Skating Championships.

"Finally! Eureka!" Kwan shouted after finishing first Wednesday in her women's qualifying group with the help of a triple-triple jump combination, a maneuver she failed to complete in her bronze-medal Olympic routine.

Even if this was only the qualifying round, Kwan said she was happy.

"It's the first time this whole season I nailed the triple-triple, so it feels good," she said. "I didn't hesitate.

"I just went into the air, and both landings were smooth."

Ina captured a bronze medal in the pairs event with John Zimmerman but wasn't happy about it.

"That's the worst performance we had all year, so it's really disappointing for us," Ina said. "It's a high result, but we wanted a better performance."

They made three major mistakes, including Zimmerman falling awkwardly on a throw.

"We're excited we won the bronze medal," Ina said of her first world medal. "On the other hand, we feel bad about the performance."

The couples who beat them weren't much better.

"We were very lucky to win the competition," said Zhao Hongbo, who won with Shen Xue, the first time a Chinese duo took pairs gold.

Shen and Zhao, winners of the bronze medal at the Olympics, had the top technical feats of the evening, although Shen sprawled on a triple toe loop.

"I tried not to think about the fall," Shen said. "My partner told me, "It's going to be okay.' "

Skating after them, European champions Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin had a chance to win. But he fell on a triple jump, and a few of her landings were awkward.

In contrast to the pairs, Kwan and Russian rival Irina Slutskaya were nearly flawless in winning their opposing groups.

Kwan did six triples with only a slight bobble. Jennifer Kirk, subbing for Olympic gold medalist Sarah Hughes, was fourth.

Hughes bypassed the event after finding little time to train after her victory in Salt Lake City.

American Sasha Cohen was second behind Slutskaya, doing five triples. She came up short on a triple-triple and aborted a jump, doing just a single.

Cohen, fourth at the Olympics, was harsh on herself.

"I'd give it a 6 or 7 out of 10. I can do a lot better," she said. "I was a little tired. I didn't have much to jump from."

Kirk had six triples in her first senior world championships. She was the junior world champion in 2000.