Golden Skate

Plushenko leads men after short program

Evgeni Plushenko of Russia currently sits in first place after the men’s Short Program, followed closely by USA’s Evan Lysacek and Japan’s Daisuke Takahashi. All three men are separated by less than half a point.

Plushenko gave a demanding performance to Concierto de Aranjuez routine, nailing all his opening jumps:  a  quadruple toeloop-triple toeloop combination, a triple Axel and a triple Lutz. The defending champion also earned  level 3 on both footwork sequences, as well as  level 4 on all three spins, for a score of 90.85 (51.10/39.75) points.

“Today I won the first part,” said the 26-year-old. “The big battle will come the day after tomorrow, and I will conserve my energy for this. The guys skated very well today. I am happy that we have such a great competition. This will give me even more adrenalin [for the Free Skating].”

Lysacek put out a compelling routine to Firebird which featured four solid triples: a triple Axel, a  triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination, and a triple flip. The U.S. silver medalist also earned +2.20 positive GoEs for his level 4 circular footwork,  level 4 on two of his spins, and was awarded a new personal best of 90.30 (48.30/42.00) points.

The World Champion said that he had remained calm throughout the day, but that there was still pressure. “Four years ago, I blew my Short Program in Torino and had the worst night of my life. Tonight was the best night of my life. It felt like personal redemption.”

Takahashi showed lots of personality in his routine to Eye by COBA, nailing his triple flip-triple toeloop, triple Axel, and triple Lutz. The Japanese Champion also produced outstanding level 4 straightline footwork  as well as good spins, earning a new personal best of 90.25 (48.90/41.35) points.

“My program was not perfect,   but it was the best program I’ve done this season,” the 23-year-old told the press. “The artistic side of my   program was good, too. I will try to concentrate on what   I’ve been doing all along. I’m feeling great. My practice is going great. I have   trust in myself to keep doing what I have been doing.”

Teammate  Nobunari Oda had a solid skate which featured a triple Axel, a triple Lutz-triple toeloop, and triple flip. The 22-year-old also earned level 4 on all three spins and displayed good level 3 footwork to earn 84.85 (46.00/38.85) points for a fourth place finish.

Stéphane Lambiel touched down on his quadruple toeloop and only did a double toeloop to complete a planned 4-3 combination. Nevertheless,  the Swiss Champion produced a triple flip as well as spectacular level 4 spins and level 3 footwork. He is currently fifth with a new personal best of 84.63 (41.48/43.15) points, and also earned the highest program component score of all the men.

USA’s Johnny Weir also gave a good performance which was highlighted by a triple Lutz-triple toeloop and triple Axel. The 25-year-old also displayed good footwork and spins, earning 82.10 (42.90/39.20) points for sixth place.

Canadian Champion Patrick Chan stepped out of his triple Axel, but otherwise landed a solid triple flip-triple toeloop and triple Lutz. The World silver medalist received a one-point deduction for a time violation, but otherwise showed good footwork and spins, and sits in seventh with 81.12 (41.42/40.70) points.

Takahiko Kozuka is currently in eighth place with 79.59 (42.14/37.45) points. The Japanese bronze medalist two-footed his triple Axel, but showed good level 3 footwork and level 4 spins.

Michael Březina of the Czech Republic gave a solid performance which featured a triple Axel, triple Lutz, and triple flip-triple toeloop. The 2009 World Junior silver medalist earned 78.80 (42.50/36.30) points for ninth place.

Kazakhstan’s Denis Ten also gave a good performance which included a triple Axel, triple Lutz-triple toeloop and triple flip in his routine to Sing, Sing, Sing. The 16-year-old placed 10th with a new personal best of 76.24 (41.24/35.00) points.

France’s Florent Amodio skated a heartfelt routine to music from the Munich soundtrack which featured four solid jumps: a triple a Axel, a triple Lutz, and a triple Salchow-triple toeloop combination. The 19-year-old is currently in 11th place with a personal best of 75.35 (41.90/33.45) points.

Kevin van der Perren of Belgium is currently 12th, followed by Artem Borodulin of Russia.

U.S. Champion Jeremy Abbott popped a triple Axel and doubled a triple Lutz to place 15th.

Brian Joubert of France is currently in 18th place. The 25-year-old stumbled on his opening quadruple toeloop and a triple Lutz that was subsequently downgraded to a double.

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