Golden Skate

Cynthia Phaneuf leads after Short Program

Cynthia Phaneuf is currently first after the Ladies Short Program at the 2011 BMO Canadian Figure Skating Championships.

Pre-event favorite Cynthia Phaneuf (QC) did not disappoint in her sassy, Spanish-flavored short program. Her score of 60.77 drew big cheers from a supportive audience as well as over an eight-point lead heading into the free skate.

Phaneuf’s triple Lutz-double toe loop combination was not outstanding, but it was clean, as was the rest of her program. Her opening double Axel and a triple toe loop were high and covered a great distance, earning mostly +2 Grades of Execution (GOE) from the judges.

Phaneuf really sparkled at the end of her program, when the music got faster and she sailed down the ice in an exciting straightline step sequence. At the end of her program, she pumped her fist in excitement and looked up to see a standing ovation from the audience.

The other fantastic story of the night was Alexandra Najarro (CO), who finished only 15th in Canada last year. Flying into this event under the radar, she really dazzled in her classical short program to music by Strauss and Rieu.

Opening with a clean triple toe loop-double toe loop combination, Najarro followed up with a triple flip. With the most difficult elements out of the way, she let go and just enjoyed the rest of her skate. With a technical score not that far off of Phaneuf’s, it was mainly the components mark that held Najarro back from really challenging the 2010 Olympian, but the 17-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont., was not at all disappointed.

Najarro, who scored 52.12 points, was in tears of relief and excitement as soon as she hit her ending pose. If she can stay focused heading into the free skate, this could really be a break-through competition for her.

A popped Lutz was the only misstep in a fierce Latin short program by Amélie Lacoste (QC). Unfortunately, the mistake left her in third place with 50.86 points, and she was clearly disappointed after she finished her program. During her skate, however, she stayed calm and composed and ended well, earning level three on a well-choreographed straightline step sequence.

Last year, Lacoste was fourth in Canada, and after strong international results this season, she has a great chance of stepping onto the national podium again since winning bronze in 2009.

Myriane Samson (QC) also had a strong skate despite a fall on her opening triple Lutz. Since it was meant to be in combination, she missed out on a few extra points and is in fourth with a score of 49.75. Like Lacoste, she also recovered well and also earned a level three on her steps. Her Il Postino program featured highs and lows, delicate choreography mixed with sassy flair, and suited her well.

Since her partner Bryce Davison is out this season with an injury, Canadian pairs champion Jessica Dubé decided to skate singles and is sitting in fifth after a good effort in the short program. Although the landing was a little tight, she managed a triple Lutz-double toe loop combination, but fell on the next element, a triple Salchow. Dubé is hoping that skating singles this year will keep her in a competitive mind set and improve her consistency when she returns to pairs next season. She is just behind Samson, with 48.81 points.

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