Gachinski clinches lead at Cup of China

Artur Gachinski

Russia's Artur Gachinski performs to the St. Louis Bluesfor his short program at Cup of China.

Russia’s Artur Gachinski clinched a narrow lead of 0.27 points over Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan to win the Men’s short program at Cup of China in Shanghai on Friday. USA’s Jeremy Abbott is not far behind in third place with Nobunari Oda of Japan on his heels. Four out of the eight men went for a quadruple jump.

Gachinski had an awful morning practice with his quad toe not working at all, but he did it when it counted in his program to the St. Louis Blues. The 18-year-old even added the triple toe to the quad and was the only man with a clean quad-triple toe combo today. The World bronze medalist also reeled off a triple Axel, as well as a triple loop. Only the change sit spin was a level one.

Overall, Gachinski has much improved his performance level and seems more emotionally involved in what he is doing on the ice instead of just checking off his jumps. He earned 81.64 points.

“It was quite a good performance today as I landed all my jumps,” noted the Russian silver medalist. “I had positive emotions and I did almost everything in my spins. I am very happy that it was a successful day for me.”

“It is true that this morning I was unable to do some of my elements,” Gachinski added. “What helped me today when I came to the rink was that there was an audience waiting for a good performance. That pushed me and gave me energy to skate well. I wanted to please the audience.”

Hanyu had planned a quad-triple toe as well, but when the landing of the first jump was a little iffy, he decided not to do it and switched his combo to the triple Lutz. The triple Axel was excellent. Hanyu once again proved his musicality and soft skating to Alexander Scriabin’s etude Patetico to score 81.64 points.

“I landed a quad today, that was good, but I had planned a quad-triple toeloop in my program and I couldn’t do it and I regret this a little,” the 2010 World Junior Champion said.

The most entertaining performance came from Abbott. He interpreted Bei mir bist du schön and the Swing Kids perfectly, setting the right mood and drawing the crowd into his program. Abbott nailed a triple flip-triple toe, a triple Axel, and triple Lutz, but the landings were somewhat shaky on the combo and Lutz. The two-time U.S. Champion picked up 79.32 points.

“Today I gave a shaky performance but I was happy to be on my feet,” said the 26-year-old. “It’s a fun program. It’s great to finally start the season and to have somewhere to go up from.”

“It’s been a long time since I competed, since Taipei in February (at Four Continents), so it’s nice to be back, feeling nervous, under pressure and having to perform,” shared the two-time U.S. Champion. “[It was] a little rough today, but I’m happy to be in third and am excited for tomorrow.”

Oda came fourth at 77.65 points with solid performance to Memphis Soul Stew that included a triple Axel, triple flip-triple toe, and two level-four spins, but the Lutz had an edge call and the combo spin was a level one.

“I am very satisfied with this performance,” Oda commented. “I was calm, relaxed and happy. I don’t plan to do the quad in the free skating tomorrow. What I really want is to skate clean and show how good my new program is.”

Nan Song of China landed a quad toe-double toe for the first time in the short program in an international event. His triple Axel and Lutz were also strong and his spins merited a level four. Song scored 72.72 points.

“It was good today but I still have the free skating tomorrow,” he said. “For the free skating I’m planning two quads.”

Teammate Jialiang Wu gave a good performance which featured a strong  triple Lutz-triple toe and triple Axel. He sits in sixth with 65.06 points.

Canadian Kevin Reynolds underrotated both the quad Salchow (in combination with a triple toe) and the triple Axel that he stumbled badly on. He is ranked seventh with 64.31 points.

USA’s Richard Dornbush was unable to repeat his strong short program from Skate America. He went down on the triple Lutz and almost fell on the triple Axel (62.93 points).

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