The ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2012 continued in Nice, France, Thursday with the Ladies Short Program and the Free Dance.

Alena Leonova (RUS) captures Ladies Short Program

Alena Leonova of Russia captured the Ladies Short Program with Japan's Kanako Murakami and Carolina Kostner of Italy following in second and third place. The skaters ranked second to seventh are separated by just a little over four points.

Leonova turned in a strong performance of her Pirates of the Caribbean program and nailed a triple toe-triple toe combination, a triple flip and double Axel. The Grand Prix Final bronze medalist picked up a level four for the three spins and the footwork to post a new seasons best of 64.61 points. Obviously I performed my program at a 100 percent today. I am even more pleased with my jumps and the very high levels I got than with the fact being in first place. This was my best Short Program in this season and probably of my life so far, the skater from St. Petersburg told the post-event press conference.

Murakami's routine to Violin Muse featured a triple toe-triple toe, triple flip, double Axel and level-four spins as well. The 2010 World Junior Champion scored 62.67 points. Since I wasn't skating well on practice since I am in Nice, so I was a little unsure today. I was just glad to perform well and I am very satisfied now, the 17-year-old commented. After having bad practice sessions, my coach really encouraged me and helped me to change my mind, she added.

Performing to an Allegretto by Dmitri Shostakovich, Kostner landed a triple toe-triple toe combination and the double Axel, but doubled the loop. The four-time European Champion earned 61.00 points. I have mixed feelings about my performance today. On the whole, it was really good. I had a miskate on a jump that makes me quite angry because it's a jump I have almost never been missing. Sometimes you just need a mistake like get down to earth again and to stay focused until the end, which I will try to do, Kostner said.

Mao Asada (JPN) fell on a downgraded triple Axel to finish fourth at 59.49 points. Akiko Suzuki (JPN) hit a triple toe-triple toe but doubled the Lutz. She is currently ranked fifth at 59.38 points. Ksenia Makarova (RUS) came sixth with a solid performance and 58.51 points.

Tessa Scott/Virtue Moir (CAN) dance off with the gold

Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir of Canada danced off with the gold medal, capturing their second World title. Defending World Champions Meryl Davis/Charlie White (USA) took the silver medal and Nathalie Pechalat/Fabian Bourzat earned the bronze in what was a high-level dance event.

Virtue/Moir skated last out of the 20 couples and gave an entertaining performance to Funny Face, getting into the characters of Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire. The Olympic Champions completed difficult footwork and lifts, picking up a level four for seven out of eight elements. The circular footwork merited a level three. Virtue/Moir scored 110.34 points and totaled 182.65 points. It feels amazing. It was a perfect ending of the season for us. It wasn't a magical skate, we kind of had to fight through the elements and really rely on our training. The sweetest part of the season was the ability to train to all our potential. That was our big reward this year, enjoying the training and we did, Moir said. To be honest it wasn't the best we've skated this program this season. But that's why we train and that we got all the mileage on the program we can rely on even we didn't feel necessarily a 100 percent. It's great to get the victory. We're thrilled with our season, Virtue added.

Davis/White produced a dynamic Waltz from Die Fledermaus that was highlighted by excellent lifts and fast twizzles. The Grand Prix Final Champions collected a level four for the lifts, spin and twizzles and a level three for the step sequences to score 107.64 points. Overall they accumulated 178.62 points. We're a little disappointed because we felt we skated our season best performance and we wanted our season best scores at Worlds. But we skated our hearts out and left it all on the ice today. We're going home with the silver, but we're going home with a lot of pride, too, in how we presented ourselves and our programs, White commented. It was a great season for us “ last year we felt a lot of pressure to make history. The scores weren't what we were looking for but we can't control that and we're satisfied with what we did, Davis noted.

Pechalat/Bourzat Egyptian themed program The Pharao and His Mummy featured innovative lifts and intricate footwork. Five elements garnered a level four and the two-time European Champions achieved a new seasons best of 104.05 points to take their first World medal at 173.18 points. It was our goal to reach a medal. The hardest part about these World Championships was not the competition itself but the last two weeks of preparation, we are very tired now. It was a great competition, especially because we are skating here at home, Pechalat explained. We are very satisfied with this performance, we did our very best and could finally show our level, the one we have in practice. I was more nervous than yesterday, but I pushed until the end. Our practice was good all week and this performance was the top of it, Bourzat offered.

Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje (CAN) came fourth with a passionate program to Je suis malade (166.65 points) and Elena Ilinykh/Nikita Katsalapov finished fifth with their dramatic Ave Maria interpretation at 161.00 points.

The ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2012 continue Friday with the Men's Short Program and the Pairs Free Skating.