Mao Asada establishes world record

Japan's Mao Asada finished with 78.66 points in the short program, surpassing the record of 78.50. Kazuhiro Nogi/AFP/Getty Images

SAITAMA, Japan -- Mao Asada of Japan set a world record on Thursday in finishing first in the short program at the World Figure Skating Championships.

Skating to Chopin's Nocturne, Asada hit her trademark triple axel at the start of her routine and completed all her remaining jumps to finish with 78.66 points, surpassing the previous record of 78.50 set by Yuna Kim at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

Carolina Kostner of Italy was second with 77.24 points, followed by Julia Lipnitskaia of Russia with 74.54. Defending champion Yuna Kim has retired and Olympic gold medalist Adelina Sotnikova of Russia isn't competing at the worlds.

Earlier, Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany won the pairs event, claiming their fifth title in the event they have dominated since 2008.

Skating to music from "The Nutcracker," the defending champions were solid on all their elements and earned 224.88 points to beat Olympic silver medalists Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov of Russia, who had 215.92 points.

"A fifth title is quite amazing," Szolkowy said. "We did a very good performance yesterday and were very good today."

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford were third with 210.84 points, edging fellow Canadians Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch into fourth.

Savchenko and Szolkowy, who won Olympic bronze medals in 2010 and 2014, have been together since August 2003 and will split up after the world championships.

"I can hardly believe it is over now. It feels very strange," Savchenko said. "To be honest, it felt like I was skating in an exhibition gala."