Finland’s Team Marigold Ice Unity, five-times winners of the International Skating Union (ISU) World Synchronized Skating Championships, made a strong start to the defence of their title in Helsinki tonight - but not strong enough to head Russia’s Team Paradise.
The Russians, twice world champions, saw their chances of a third consecutive title disappear last year when a faulty lift manoeuvre dropped them to third place.
There were no chinks in the armour in today’s opening short programme action at the Helsinki Ice Hall, however, as Team Paradise topped the standings ahead of tomorrow’s concluding free skating programme with 87.12 points.
Team Marigold Unity stand second with 85.90 points, while a total of 84.63 earned Canada’s Team Nexxice third place overnight ahead of second Russian representatives Team Tatarstan, who scored 82.83.
Finland’s second representatives Helsinki Rockettes, meanwhile, stand fifth with 82.12 points.
A total of 24 teams representing 20 ISU Members have entered the Championships, due to conclude tomorrow.
The Championships have been held since 2000 and Helsinki has hosted the event twice before, in 2001 and in 2011.
Finland tops the overall medal table with 23 medals, nine of them gold, followed by Sweden, who have 13 medals, and Canada, who have 12.
Teams from Australia, Austria, Belgium, China, Croatia, the Czech Republic, France, Great Britain, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Latvia, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Turkey are also competing.