Golden Skate

Takahashi leader after short program

Daisuke Takahashi of Japan placed first in the Men’s Short Program, followed by closely by Switzerland’s Stephane Lambiel. USA’s Evan Lysacek and teammate Johnny Weir are currently in third and fourth place, respectively.

Skating last, Takahashi drew in the audience with his routine to a hip-hop version of Swan Lake which featured very good spins and expressive footwork throughout. The current World silver medalist also executed spectacular jumps which included a triple flip-triple toeloop combination, a triple Axel, and a triple Lutz – all of which received high GOEs.

The Japanese champion, who earned the highest Program Component Score in the men’s field, placed first with 84.20 (44.50/39.70) points

“Today all jumps were no problem for me,” acknowledged the 21-year-old, “but I was using too much energy before my circular step sequence. Also the [final] spin maybe didn’t have enough revolutions. There is still some things to work on.”

Lambiel earned a new personal best 83.80 (44.90/38.90) points, besting his score from this event two years ago, after delivering an expressive tango. The Swiss champion also earned the highest technical element score in the men’s short.

The 2006 Olympic silver medalist finally produced his first triple Axel of the season, as well as quadruple toeloop-triple toeloop combination, but struggled with the landing of a triple Lutz. He also had a slight stumble during a level three circular footwork sequence, but received a level four on all three spins.

“I did my best and I’m satisfied,” said the 22-year-old, “but tomorrow I will do better. I have good feelings for my free program.”

Lysacek delivered a very good performance with his “Zorro” routine, but two-footed and turned out the landing of his first jump in a quadruple toeloop-triple toeloop combination. The U.S. champion otherwise produced a triple Axel and a triple Lutz as well as good spins and footwork to earn 79.70 (42.90/36.80) points for a third place finish.

“I was set to go for higher difficulty,” the 22-year-old later explained, “so I’m proud of that. Maybe it wasn’t perfect right now, but I’m happy that I got through and I got some really good elements. Obviously the quad is the most difficult element and it’s coming first, so being able to have a bobble or whatever and to be able to do the rest is what I’m training.”

Teammate Weir fell on a triple Axel but otherwise produced a triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination and a triple flip in his routine to Yunona and Avos by Alexei Rybnikov. The U.S. bronze medalist also received a level four on all three spins and earned 74.80 (39.00/36.80) points for a fourth place finish.

Kevin Van der Perren of Belgium sits in fifth with a new personal best of 72.83 (40.58/32.25) points. The current European bronze medalist landed a quadruple toeloop-triple toeloop combination and a triple Axel, but his triple Lutz was a bit shaky and both footwork sequences were only awarded a level two.

Canada’s Patrick Chan landed a good triple Axel and triple Lutz, but stepped out of the landing of his second jump in a triple flip-triple toeloop combination. He is currently sixth with 68.86 (36.06/32.80) points.

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