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Kwan second, Cohen fourth at Nagano

Associated Press

NAGANO, Japan -- Irina Slutskaya captured her first world title Saturday, defeating four-time champion Michelle Kwan at the World Figure Skating Championships.

Michelle Kwan completed six triple jumps flawlessly on Saturday.
Kwan finished second and Fumie Suguri of Japan came in third. The win was a breakthrough for Slutskaya, who finished ahead of Kwan in eight of their 10 events since January 2000.

The Russian's only two losses to Kwan were at the 2000 and 2001 world championships where she finished second to Kwan both times. Slutskaya also finished second to Kwan at the 1998 world championships.

"A couple times I was so close and now I am just so happy as I feel the medal," Slutskaya said. "It's sport and competing. Sometimes someone else wins. We are just competing. Maybe I am just lucky tonight."

Kwan's silver was her seventh consecutive medal at the worlds. She has won four times and was silver medalist in 1997, 1999 and 2002.

"Each medal was a different experience and a new one," Kwan said.

Slutskaya held on to the lead after the short program by winning the free skate Saturday. Both Slutskaya and Kwan did six triple jumps and didn't make a mistake.

Kwan was in third place after the short program. She needed to win the free skate and have someone else beat Slutskaya to win her third straight title.

It didn't happen.

Slutskaya, who won the Olympic silver medal ahead of Kwan's bronze last month at Salt Lake City, finally took the world title. Sarah Hughes of the United States won the Olympic gold but bypassed the world championships, citing lack of training time following the Olympics.

Slutskaya received six of nine first place votes for her routine from "Tosca." She had all 5.8s and 5.9s except for a lone 5.7.

Kwan's routine to "Scheherazade" also featured six triples, including two triple-double combinations like Slutskaya. But her landings were less secure than Slutskaya and the technical marks reflected it. Five of the technical marks were 5.7s, The rest were 5.8s. Slutskaya had one 5.9 with seven 5.8s and the 5.7.

American Sasha Cohen was fourth. The other American, Jennifer Kirk, Hughes' substitute here, withdrew with a hip injury. She was 15th after falling twice in Friday's short program.

Yoshie Onda, another Japanese skater, was fifth with Ukraine's Elena Liashenko sixth.

The championships ended with Russians taking three of the four titles.

Alexei Yagudin won the men's title on Thursday and Irina Lobacheva and Ilya Averbukh took the ice dance title.

Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo became the first Chinese to capture the pairs title.

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