Golden Skate

Machida leads Men at Nebelhorn Trophy

Japan's Tatsuki Machida performs his Short Program to Dark Eyes at the 2010 Nebelhorn Trophy.

Japan’s Tatsuki Machida grabbed the lead in the Men’s Short Program on Thursday at the Nebelhorn Trophy with Kevin van der Perren of Belgium and Konstantin Menshov of Russia following in second and third.

Skating to Dark Eyes and dressed in black, Machida hit a triple Axel, triple flip-triple toe and a triple Lutz. He got a level four for two spins, but he slipped in the step sequence that was graded only a level two. The reigning Four Continents silver medalist was light on his feet and his program had a dance-like quality. He posted 71.41 points.

“The jumps went very well today and I’m very pleased with them,” stated the 20-year-old. “I had an error in the step sequence because I think I put too much energy in it. I was nervous because I did not know how my program would be received.”

Van der Perren had drawn to skate second out of the 23 men and set a high standard with a triple Axel, triple Lutz-triple toe and a triple flip, but the 28-year-old also garnered a level four for his flying sit and his camel spin. He collected 69.94 points.

“It was ok,” the two-time European bronze medalist noted. “The steps and the combination spin could have been better, but I came here to do a good short and already achieved my goal for this competition. I really wanted to get a level four for the change camel spin. I actually feel better prepared now than I did last year, because I’m just skating for myself now and there are no Olympic Games.”

The Belgian went on to explain that he put together his program to Art of War mostly himself but got help from coach Juri Bureiko and choreographer Jeanetta Folle.

Menshov nailed the lone quad in the Men’s short, but he only managed to add a single toe for his combination. The program to a playful Tango also included a triple Axel, triple loop and three level-three spins. The skater from St. Petersburg earned 67.93 points.

“I’m pleased, but it was hard to wait so long as I skated last,” admitted the 27-year-old. “There is also the time difference of two hours to St. Petersburg, and it is almost 11 pm over there, but I pulled myself together. Tomorrow will be the hardest day. I feel tired after all the test skates we had in Russia and I’m looking forward to have a little rest when I get home.”

Peter Liebers of Germany excited the home crowd with his fourth-place finish (64.97 points). The landings of his triple Axel and Lutz were shaky, but the triple flip-triple toe combo was very solid. The 2010 German silver medalist looked more elegant than usual in his Blues Deluxe program.

“It wasn’t a 100 percent yet,” admitted the 22-year-old. “My Axel was more solid in practice and I landed the Lutz on the toe-pick, but overall I’m still happy.”

Ivan Tretiakov from Russia, a silver medalist at this event last year, is currently ranked fifth. He stepped out of his triple Axel, and his triple flip-triple toe combination had no flow on the landing. The Muscovite received 64.30 points.

Canada’s Joey Russell popped his Axel into a single but pulled off his trademark triple flip-triple loop combination. Unfortunately, he fell out of his flying camel spin and finished sixth (60.49 points).

Laurent Alvarez from Switzerland, a student of Stéphane Lambiel’s coach Peter Grütter, turned in a clean performance that featured a double Axel, triple Lutz and triple Salchow-triple toeloop. He came 7th at 56.39 points.

USA’s Armin Mahbanoozadeh opened his program with a shaky triple Axel, then fell on a under-rotated triple Lutz and also touched down with his hand on the triple flip to finish 8th (55.97 points).

Michal Březina from the Czech Republic was considered a top contender at Nebelhorn Trophy, but three major mistakes cost him dearly: He singled the Axel, doubled his planned quad Salchow, and crashed at the end of his straight-line step sequence. However, the Kodo drums program is a nice change for Březina who has used jazzy programs in the past. He also wore a daring costume with a flesh-colored top with some sparkling applications and black trousers.

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