For Annika Hocke and Robert Kunkel, who came third at the European Championships, the hope of a top place at the figure skating world championships in Saitama, Japan, ended after the short program.

“I had quite a bit of back problems during preparation. We’re happy to be here at all,” said Hocke after finishing 15th with 60.89 points. “We would have liked to build on the performances at the European Championships. Maybe we can still make up a few places.” Hocke could only compete with painkillers.

Strong jump combination by Schott

In contrast, Nicole Schott had a brilliant start in the short program. The seven-time German champion from Essen fought her way up to seventh place with 67.29 points. Thanks to a successful jump combination of triple flip and toe loop, the 26-year-old is now heading for a top ten place again. “I only managed it in training for so long, finally it worked out in the competition,” said Schott, who finished tenth at the 2022 World Cup. Until the free program on Friday (9.20 a.m.) she doesn’t want to drive herself crazy and “stay relaxed”.

Things went very well for the World Championship debutants Alissa Jefimowa from Oberstdorf and Ruben Blommaert from Berlin, who came in seventh with 65.23 points. “It was the best performance of the season. That was okay,” said Blommaert. The decision in pair skating will be made on Thursday (3:00 a.m. CET) in the freestyle.

To the delight of the hosts, the Japanese Riku Miura/Ryuichi Kihara (80.72 points) took the lead on the opening day of the World Championships. The defending champions Alexa Knierim/Brandon Frazier from the USA came second ahead of the European champions Sara Conti/Niccolo Macii from Italy. Like Belarus, Russia, which has been leading in pair skating for years, is excluded because of the war of aggression in Ukraine.