Rochette leader at Canadian Nationals

Joannie Rochette (QC) is the current leader after the Ladies Short program, followed closely by Mira Leung (BC/YT) and Myriane Samson (QC).

Rochette opened her short program with a strong double Axel, but then fell on the second jump of a triple flip-triple toeloop. The defending champion quickly recovered to produce a triple Lutz, a level 3 layback spin, very good level three straightline footwork, and two good spins. She earned 59.32 for her dynamic and intense routine to piano concertos by Tchaikovsky and Schumann, which was skated with speed and flow.

Rochette later told the press that she didn’t like skating last. “You have to wait and re-warmup a bit,” she explained. “I had a little problem with my skates, re-tying them like 10 times.”

Overall, the 22-year-old felt she did well and enjoyed her program. “I felt good over my skates,” said Rochette, “and I was really glad especially to try the triple-triple. It’s the first time in a big event like this.”

Skating with a newfound softness and lightness, Leung nailed her opening triple Lutz-double loop combination. The 2007 silver medalist also landed a triple flip and double Axel in her new Rachmaninoff routine, which was created on Christmas eve. She also produced two good level four spins and a level 3 layback, earning 58.24 points for a second place finish.

Leung felt good about her performance and was excited that she had a chance to skate in front of her home crowd. “I looked it as a preview of 2010 because same venue – same crowd. I was really happy with my skate tonight.”

Leung explained that after the Grand Prix season she felt that her other short program didn’t allow her to perform to her full potential. “I wanted to change my program and we ended up doing it on Christmas Eve,” said the 18-year-old. “I’m glad we did the change because everything’s worked so well here.”

Samson made only a minor error in her lyrical routine to Within, which featured a double Axel, a triple Lutz-double loop combination, and a triple flip. The 19-year-old missed grabbing her foot during a layback spin, but otherwise delivered two level 4 spins as well as very good level 3 straightline footwork. She is currently in third with 54.88 points.

“I had really good training this year,” Samson later told the press. “So I just wanted to give like a little show – to show the people my program.”

Cynthia Phaneuf of Quebec is currently fourth (53.49 points) after performing a confident and melodic routine to You are so Beautiful. The 20-year-old landed a strong double Axel and triple Lutz-double toeloop combination, but then singled a flip. She also struggled a bit on her flying sitspin, but otherwise produced a very good level 3 layback spin and straightline footwork, and a level 4 change combination spin.

Erika Tisluck (QC) stepped out of a double Axel in her elegant performance to To Love You More, but otherwise delivered a triple flip-double toeloop combination, two level 4 spins, and a level 4 spiral sequence. The 16-year-old finished fifth with 49.06 points.

Kristen Walker (AB/NT/NU) skated a flawless routine to Moroccan Roll, which featured a triple toeloop-double toeloop combination, a triple Salchow, and a double The 21-year-old is currently sixth with 48.28 points.

Lesley Hawker (CO) is in a close seventh with 48.20 points. The 2007 bronze medalist had a tight landing on her triple Lutz-double loop combination and doubled a flip, but otherwise gave a clean performance.

Jessica Dubé finished eighth with 46.76 points. The 20-year-old landed a double Axel and triple Lutz-double toeloop combination, but fell on a triple Salchow. She later lost her center during her change combination spin, which resulted in -.60 GOE.

Kathryn Kang (BC/YT) is currently ninth (44.77 points), followed by Erin Scherrer (WO) 44.35 points.

The event continues with the Senior Pairs and Men’s Long Programs, Senior Free Dance, and Junior Men’s Long Program.

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