Patrick Chan leads after Short Program

Patrick Chan is currently first after the Men's Short Program at the 2011 BMO Canadian Figure Skating Championships.

Quite predictably, it is Patrick Chan (CO) who is at the top of the leader board after the short program and quite predictably, he leads by a sizable margin.

The two-time and reigning world silver medalist skated a charming program to Take Five which was met with big cheers and a standing ovation. Chan opened with a quad toe loop that was so easy and gorgeous that it looked like a triple. He doubled his planned triple Axel, but came back with a strong triple flip-triple toe loop combination.

Chan’s outstanding footwork and strong spins also contributed to his score of 88.78, giving him an 11-point lead heading into the free skate.

With another electrifying performance, Shawn Sawyer (QC) is sitting in a comfortable second after his short program to Assassin’s Tango. Notorious for two-footing his triple Axel, Sawyer landed the jump on one foot, but touched his hand to the ice to stay in control of it. The rest of his elements were picture-perfect, including a strong triple flip-triple toe loop combination. His fantastic positions and use of flexibility helped him earn level four on all three of his spins.

Sawyer’s level three footwork was fast and fierce, and his transitions between elements, including a very low cantilever, were top-notch. The 25-year-old has stood on the podium three times at Canadians at the senior level, but not since 2008, and he has never finished higher than third. With 77.64 points and an eight-point lead over third, he is in a great position to have his best finish yet this year if he skates well in the free program.

Although he flipped out of the landing on his triple Axel, Joey Russell (NL) managed to stay on his feet and ended up having one of his best skates at the Canadian Championships. He is in third with 69.41 points. He stayed calm after the mistake and hit a solid triple flip-triple loop combination, as well as a triple Lutz.

The crowd loved Russell’s 1812 Overture program, especially once the music picked up for his level two straightline step sequence. The judges loved the footwork, as well—it received +2s Grades of Execution (GOE) across the board. Russell was fifth last year at the Canadian Championships, and if he can hang on to third, it would be his first medal at the senior level.

Elladj Baldé’s (QC) flamenco program was another crowd favorite, and with 66.07 points, he is close behind Russell. His opening triple Axel was not perfect, but he got the rotation done, and his program was fairly smooth sailing after that. He really did sail through it, skating with good speed and plenty of attack, especially since he missed last season due to injury.

The 2008 junior Canadian champion hit a triple flip-triple toe loop combination and a solo triple Lutz, but he lost a few points on levels. His flying camel spin was a little sticky and only received a level two, and his circular step sequence, though aesthetically fantastic, also only received a level two. Still, Baldé is within striking distance of the bronze medal if he can hit his elements in the free skate.

Kevin Reynolds (BC/YT) entered the event as one of the top contenders, and with two quads in his program, he seemed destined to challenge Chan for the title this year. However, last year’s Canadian bronze medalist continues to struggle with his triple Axel, much like Chan, his longtime rival.

In his jazzy short program, Reynolds popped his attempt at the Axel into a single. Both of his quad attempts had issues, too. His opening quad Salchow-double toe loop combination was underrotated, and his solo quad toe loop had a tight landing. He did maximize the levels on his spins, however, earning level four for all three of them. With 61.76 points and in fifth place, he is still in medal contention, especially because he can make up so many points on the technical side if he has a good free skate.

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