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Sports Canada skaters Lajoie, Lagha lead after rhythm dance at junior championships

Canada’s Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha were in first place after Thursday’s rhythm dance at the ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships.

Lajoie and Lagha, fourth last year, earned 70.14 points for their tango to place ahead of Russian couples Elizaveta Khudaiberdieva and Nikita Nazarov (68.69), and Sofia Shevchenko and Igor Eremenko (67.56).

“It was very stressful,” said Lagha, from Greenfield Park, Que. “The short program is always the hardest. We gave a good showing of what we’ve been working on.”

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Lajoie, from Boucherville, Que., kept focused on the performance.

“I wanted to feel like it was just another competition,” she said. “I didn’t want to think about the name `world juniors’ and just concentrate on my skating.”

Alicia Fabbri of Terrebonne, Que., and Paul Ayer of Brossard, Que., placed 11th.

“We’re very proud to be here after eight months of hard work,” Fabbri said. “We stayed in character today and kept connected through the whole program.”

The free skate in pairs was held later, with Russia’s Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov winning gold.

Brooke McIntosh of Etobicoke, Ont., and Brandon Toste of Mississauga, Ont., were 10th and Gabrielle Levesque of Bridgewater, N.S., and Pier-Alexandre Hudon of St-Roc-des-Aulunaies, Que., 15th.

Competition continues Friday with the men’s free skate and the women’s short program. The free dance is on Saturday.

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