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Sports

Germans Szolkowy and Savchenko win figure skating world championship in Saitama, Japan

Germans Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy have won the pairs event at the World Figure Skating Championships in Japan. Following their disappointing showing at the Winter Olympics they end their career on a happy note.

To music from Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker," the defending champions from Chemnitz in eastern Germany, won their fifth world title since 2008.

They were solid on all their elements and earned 224.88 points to beat Russian Olympic silver medalists Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov; Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford came in third.

"It was definitely a good program, except for the tiny flaw with the double Axel," Szolkowy said afterwards, referring to the under-rotation in a side-by-side double Axel jump.

While the pair won five world titles, they only came in third at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver and again in Sochi. At the Games in Russia last month, they were second after the short program but bungled on two elements in the free skate, which forced them to settle for a bronze medal.

Twenty-nine-year-old Savchenko was distraught and blamed her partner for the disappointing result. They quickly announced the end of their joint career.

Thirty-four-year-old Robin Szolkowy said the win in Japan was a memorable end to his 11-year career and his partner recalled that the pair's first medal of their 10 world championship campaigns came in Tokyo in 2007.

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

rg/msh (AP, AFP, dpa)