SAITAMA, Japan, March 23 (Reuters) - Unstoppable French ice dance duo of Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron took their fourth world championship crown and set a new world record with a sensual routine that won a standing ovation from the packed crowd on Saturday.
The two, who were narrowly edged out of gold at the Pyeongchang Olympics after Papadakis's costume came unfastened in the short dance, surged to victory at the Saitama Super Arena after tango-ing to a substantial lead in the rhythm dance short skate.
With a new scoring system in place this season, Papadakis and Cizeron seemed to mirror each other through a series of spins and gravity-defying lifts and finished with 134.23 in the free dance and 222.65 altogether.
They ended up roughly 10 points ahead of their nearest rivals and eclipsed their own world record set at this year's European Championships after a season shadowed by back problems for Cizeron.
"We were exactly here five years ago in Saitama (for the World Championships) and remember the whole experience from those five years. It is incredible," said Papadakis.
Cizeron added: "It was such a tough competition, all competitors have worked very hard and it is such a high level in ice dance this year.
"We did a good job today and we are proud of ourselves."
In second were Russians Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov, who embraced each other without moving on the ice after finishing a flowing routine that built on their second-place finish in the short dance for a season's best 127.82 in the free and 211.76 overall.
"I can say that the competitions were hard for us, but we tried our best and did everything we could," Sinitsina said.
"It has been five years we started to skate together and we know each other very well. The cooperation in our couple comes from our ties."
Third place was taken by the American pair of Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, who took top spot at the nationals and the 2018 Grand Prix Final in the absence of Papadakis and Cizeron, who did not take part due to injury.
"We feel like we put our strongest performance this year here at Worlds, and that was our goal," Hubbell said, adding that the duo is already looking forward.
"Next season we would like to be competing for the top of the podium, we think team USA is incredibly strong in ice dance, it keeps us on our toes."
The worlds conclude later on Saturday with the men's free skate, with American Nathan Chen holding a commanding lead over compatriot Jason Brown and double Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan. (Reporting by Elaine Lies; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)