Fukuoka (Japan) (AFP) - World champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the United States narrowly outpointed Canada's Olympic gold medallists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir to win a fifth straight Grand Prix Final ice dance title Saturday. Going out with a hair-thin 0.07-point lead from Friday's short programme, Davis and White dazzled with breath-taking moves in the free dance, featuring lifts and steps to the music of "Scheherazade" by N. Rimski-Korsakov. They collected 113.69 points for the free dance and won the overall title with 191.35 points, 1.35 points better than the Canadians, the 2012 world champions, in a possible preview of the ice dance gold-medal showdown at the Sochi Olympics in February. Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat of France finished third overall with 169.11, including 102.48 from the free skate.
BANGUI, Central African Republic (AP) — France unexpectedly raised its troop deployment in Central African Republic by hundreds of soldiers on Saturday, as Christians fearing reprisal attacks sought refuge from Muslim former rebels who control the country in wake of massacres in the capital. At least 280 people have been killed in recent days — the worst violence in the lawless country in months.
Outraged Ukrainians rallied in central Kiev on Saturday after President Viktor Yanukovych discussed a new strategic partnership agreement with Russia's Vladimir Putin upon rejecting a historic EU deal. Several thousand supporters of Western integration braved swirling winds and a heavy snowfall to maintain control of the capital's iconic Independence Square for the seventh successive day. The embattled Ukrainian president held unannounced talks with Putin in Russia on Friday after completing a mission to China aimed at drumming up backing for his cash-strapped government. Yanukovych's official website said the meeting at Putin's Black Sea retreat in Sochi -- their fourth in just over a month -- focused on "trade and economic cooperation ... and preparation for the future treaty on strategic partnership".