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world championships

Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir perform in the ice dance short dance at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2013 in London, Ont. Thursday, March 14, 2013.Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail

We are about to see just how passionate Carmen can be.

If ever there was a time for Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir to seriously throw down the gauntlet, today's free dance to the dramatic opera Carmen would be the day. The Canadian ice dancers sit in second place behind American rivals Meryl Davis and Charlie White, determined to roar back and repeat as world champions before their hometown fans at Budweiser Gardens.

Trailing the impeccable American ice dancers 77.21 to 73.87 at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships, Virtue and Moir know they have a gap to fill, and it will take the finest performance of Carmen yet. Davis and White won the 2011 world title and have been three time silver medalists. They were all runners-up to the Canadians at the 2010 Olympics.

"It's tricky for sure, we're further behind than we would like to be," said Virtue after Thursday's short program, in which they lost some points on side-by-side footwork and twizzles. "But I don't think it changes our job on Saturday. We'll attack the program. We have nothing to lose. We're confident in Carmen."

Virtue, of London, and Moir, of nearby Ilderton, Ont. , have been plastered throughout event posters and brochures, leading newscasts and fronting newspapers for weeks. The stands have been filled with fans in yellow sweaters from the duo's home skating club in Ilderton.

Virtue and Moir are five-time Canadian champions, two-time world title-holders and 2010 Olympic gold medalists. Their sexy Carmen program has evolved throughout the season, an original modern-dance take on the familiar opera story of jealousy and rage. Skating fans will recognize the familiar music, used by many famous skaters, including Katarina Witt.

Virtue and Moir will take to the ice in the last flight of ice dancers at 5:08 p.m.

Later Saturday, the world championships will conclude with the ladies long program. South Korea's Yuna Kim is in the lead with 69.97 points. It's the 2010 Olympic gold medalist's first competition since taking a two-year break from the sport.

Defending world champion Carolina Kostner of Italy sits in second place(66.86), Japan's Kanako Murakami (66.64) is third. Kim's rival, Mao Asada of Japan sits in sixth, and is the only woman in the competition slated to try a triple Axel. Canada's 17-year-old Kaetlyn Osmond (64.73) is in fourth place, positioned in striking distance of a podium finish in her first senior world championships. Osmond, who skates at 10:38 tonight, to Carmen Ballet Suite, is the second-last skater of the night, followed by Kim, who will perform to Les Miserables.

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