Petrova, Tikhonov win pairs at Cup of China

BEIJING -- Maria Petrova and Alexei Tikhonov won the pairs figuring skating competition Friday at the Cup of China, and Russians also led the other three events.

Andrei Griazev took the lead, edging Li Chenjiang of China and current senior world champion Stephane Lambiel. Also, world champions Tatiana Navka and Roman Kostomarov widened their lead in
the ice dance with a spicy Latin routine.

Another Russian world champion, Irina Slutskaya, had a brilliant short program Thursday and leads heading into Saturday's free skating when the men's and ice dance finals will be contested.

The Cup of China is the third of the International Skating Union's Grand Prix Series leading to the Grand Prix final in Tokyo
from Dec. 16-18.

Petrova and Tikhonov had a routine to music from the movies of
Federico Fellini. Petrova and Tikhonov were silver medalists in the
world championships last March in Moscow and were the world
champions in 2000

They did side-by-side triple salchows and a double axel-triple
toe loop sequence. Their only mistake was a touchdown on a throw
triple salchow.

"It was very difficult for us to skate after the long trip from
Canada to China," Tikhonov said.

They were part of a small group that was in Newfoundland last
week and was delayed traveling to Beijing.

Pang Qing and Tong Jian of China were second with Dorota
Zagorska and Mariusz Siudek of Poland third.

The event was missing hometown favorites Shen Xue and Zhao
Hongbo. He tore an Achilles tendon in August, but they're hoping to
make it to the Olympics. They won the world title in 2002 and 2004.

In the men's event, Griazev scored a personal best of 71.00 to
take the lead.

"This is a good performance and I am looking forward to
tomorrow's free skating," Griazev told China's news agency Xinhua.
He is the 2004 junior world champion but did poorly in the Skate
Canada last week.

He was virtually flawless this time in a program to "Carmen,"
hitting a triple lutz-triple toe loop combination at the start and
adding a triple axel and triple flip.

Lambiel was the surprise winner of the senior world
championships and was making his seasonal debut in GP competition.

He made a mistake on his opening jump, cutting down a triple
axel to a double. He did a quad-triple combination following that
in a routine to "Once Upon a Time in Mexico."

Earlier Friday, Navka and Roman Kostomarov of Russia were
leading after the original dance using a combination of cha-cha,
rhumba and samba dances to stay ahead.