Takahashi holds off U.S. champ Lysacek at Skate America

READING, Pa. -- Evan Lysacek could ponder an opportunity
lost. Or he could look at his performance Saturday night at Skate
America as a positive sign.

Of course, Lysacek chose the brighter outlook, and well he
should after a superb free skate that outpointed Japan's Daisuke
Takahashi. It wasn't enough to win the title because Takahashi
built an overwhelming margin in the short program.

"Going into today I had a large deficit, so I was not looking
at a win per se," Lysacek said, "but to fight for the competition
and make it overall a success. I think it was.

"An analysis of it now is it was a good experience because it
wasn't perfect. I have a lot of things to go home and work on."

Lysacek was at his most expressive in a program to "Tosca"
that was exhausting to watch, let alone skate. Although he
two-footed the quadruple toe loop (barely) on his first element, he
nailed everything else with an energy that built throughout the 4½
minutes. When he was done and the crowd was on its feet, Lysacek
held his pose -- arm fully extended like the pirate he was
portraying wielding a sword -- for nearly 10 seconds.

In all, Lysacek landed eight triples, but it was the emotion he
put into the show that charged the arena.

Takahashi fell twice and also tired toward the end of the
routine. But his lead of more than 12 points from Friday was enough
to hold off Lysacek.

The world silver medalist looked spent at the conclusion of his
performance to "Romeo and Juliet." Unlike Shakespeare's tragic
hero, though, Takahashi survived, winning 228.97 to 220.08.

"I was definitely not expecting a great mark," he said. "I
definitely will be practicing in my run-throughs to pay attention
to details."

Takahashi couldn't come close to his stunning short program 24
hours earlier, falling on a triple axel and a lutz. He left the ice
shaking his head slowly, but in the end he was wearing the gold.

Finishing third was Patrick Chan of Canada, a 16-year-old rising
star. But earlier, he and two world champions were overshadowed by
a 14-year-old newcomer to the women's scene.

Earlier Saturday, Canada's Jessice Dube and Bryce Davison upset
China's 2006 world champions Pang Qing and Tong Jian in an
uninspiring pairs event. Dube and Davison scored their first
significant international win -- they are four-time Canadian
champions -- by besting their top score in the free skate, getting
112.46 points despite some bobbles.

"All we knew was their points, which were on the big screen and
the speakers," Davison said of the Chinese, who skated just before
the Canadians. "We were going out there for us, and this
afternoon, that works."

U.S. champions Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto won the
original dance with their bluegrass hoedown routine. Although the
Olympic silver medalists skated a bit slowly for the rapid pace of
their music, they still easily outdistanced second-place Nathalie
Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat of France.

"I think speed is a huge thing we have to work on," Belbin
said. "It's good when the music is natural to you and you've grown
up around it."