Virtue-Moir take lead at figure skating worlds

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NICE, France (AP) -- Ice dance Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada took the lead after the short dance program at the figure skating world championships on Wednesday, relegating defending champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White to second place.

Virtue and Moir, who clinched the worlds and Olympic double two years ago, posted a score of 72.31 points. Their American archrivals scored 70.98.

At this year's Grand Prix final, Davis and White won, but Virtue and Moir bounced back to win last month's Four Continents -- beating Davis and White for the first time since the 2010 worlds.

Virtue and Moir are now well positioned to win their world title back heading into Thursday's free program.

Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat of France are in third place with 69.13.

Earlier in the pairs competition, defending champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany took the lead after the short program.

The three-time winners posted 68.63 points, and Pang Qing and Tong Jian of China, the Olympic silver medalists and two-time world champions, sitting in second with 67.10.

Narumi Takahashi and Mervin Tran of Japan were third on 65.37 ahead of Friday's free program.

Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov of Russia, last year's runners-up and the reigning European champions, were expected to challenge the Germans again for the title, but slipped to eighth place after an error-riddled program.