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Canada's Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro in action during the pairs free skate at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Saitama, Japan on March 21, 2019.ISSEI KATO/Reuters

Canada’s Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro finished in seventh in pairs on Thursday at the world figure skating championships.

Moore-Towers of St. Catharines, Ont., and Marinaro of Sarnia, Ont., scored 126.94 points in the free skate event for a total score of 200.02 points.

They had notched 73.08 points on Wednesday in the short program to enter Thursday’s competition sitting in fifth spot.

“It wasn’t our day, I suppose, we’re not really sure,” Moore-Towers said. “We were so prepared. Our mindset was perfect all week. We were so ready and excited. Our warm-up was perfect. Unfortunately it didn’t work out.”

Sui Wenjing and Han Cong scored 234.84 for gold. Russian skaters took silver and bronze, with Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov scoring 228.47, followed by Natalia Zabiiako and Alexander Enbert at 217.98.

Evelyn Walsh of London, Ont., and Trennt Michaud of Trenton, Ont. came in 12th in their worlds debut.

“We’re very pleased we delivered our best,” Walsh said. “It’s been a long season and we wanted to peak at the right time. Everything for us this year was a first and we just wanted to soak it all in.”

Meanwhile, defending champion Nathan Chen upstaged two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu to lead the short program.

Skating to Caravan by Duke Ellington, Chen performed a lively program that featured a triple axel, a quad lutz and a quad toeloop-triple toeloop combination for a season-best score of 107.40 points.

“There are always things I can do better, things I can improve on but ultimately everything I did, I did as best as I could and I hope to continue that into the free program,” Chen said.

American teammate Jason Brown was second with 96.81 points after a routine that included a triple flip, a triple axel and a triple lutz-triple toeloop.

Coming back from a four-month absence because of injury, Hanyu showed some rustiness in his opening jump, a double salchow instead of a planned quad salchow.

The Japanese skater quickly recovered with a triple axel and a quad toeloop-triple toeloop combination, but finished third with 94.87 points.

“I’m disappointed with my short program,” Hanyu said. “I made a big mistake and I’ve got to reform and improve for the free skate. But I’m honoured to be in the top three.”

Canadian champion Nam Nguyen of Toronto was 13th and Keegan Messing of Sherwood Park, Alta., was 14th.

“The way I’ve been training the short program all year has been consistent and strong,” Nguyen said. “There were a couple of shaky elements but overall I’m proud I was able to put out a decent performance.”

Messing fell on his opening quad toe.

"The quad has been a very consistent element for me all year,” Messing said. "I guess it wasn’t on today so I left it behind me and proceeded to fight for every element afterwards.”

Hanyu last won the world title in 2017 at Helsinki, Finland. His first world championship win was in 2014 at Saitama Super Arena, the same venue as this week.

Hanyu has come back from a right-ankle ligament injury in November. He was similarly injured in 2017, and came back at last year’s Pyeongchang Olympics where he became the first male figure skater to win consecutive Olympic golds since Dick Button in 1948 and 1952.

With files from the Associated Press

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