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Pang, Tong Win Pairs Gold at Figure Skating Worlds
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Pang Qing and Tong Jian beat fellow compatriots Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao to win the pairs gold medal at the World Figure Skating Championships in Calgary, Canada on Wednesday.

It's the third pairs title for China in five years. The last two were won by veterans Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo.

Olympic runners-up Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao, best remembered for her silver medal comeback after her horrific fall at the Turin Winter Olympics, managed only second place despite a top-ranked finish after Monday's short program. Russia's Maria Petrova and Alexei Tikhonov took the bronze.

They might have been last to perform, but Pang and Tong rallied from second place after Monday's schedule to grab their first world title.

The two-time national champions, who each have been skating for two decades and teamed up in 1993, had been practicing for a throw quadruple Salchow, but they didn't need it on Wednesday. This was despite Pang's fall on one of their opening moves, a triple toe loop.

"This is our first time standing on the highest podium," Tong said. "I am in extreme happiness."

The door had been left open for a new champion in Calgary after Olympic gold medallists and two-time world champions (2005, 2004) Tatiana Totmainina and Maxim Marinin announced their retirement after the Turin Games.

Americans Rene Inoue and John Baldwin were placed fourth, while Canadians Valerie Marcoux and Craig Buntin rounded out the top five.

(Xinhua News Agency March 23, 2006)

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