Canada's Patrick Chan leads Cup of Russia skating

Updated: November 19, 2010, 2:14 PM ET
Associated Press

MOSCOW -- Patrick Chan of Canada led the Cup of Russia on Friday after opening his short program with a clean and convincing quadruple-triple combination that he described as a great relief.

"It's a load off my shoulders," said the world silver medalist, who until this season hadn't landed a competition quad.

The tough combination helped him stay ahead of U.S. champion Jeremy Abbott despite tumbling on his subsequent triple axel. Abbott, who stayed vertical but didn't do a quad, was second after the short program. Tomas Verner of the Czech Republic, usually an eager quad jumper, didn't try one either and was third.

Akiko Suzuki of Japan led the women's event after the short program, followed by Americans Agnes Zawadzki and Ashley Wagner.

In pairs, Russia's Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov were leading their first Grand Prix of the season. Japan's Narumi Takahashi and Mervin Tran were second, followed by Russians Katarina Gerboldt and Alexander Enbert.

Chan, who performed to the cool sounds of the jazz classic "Take Five," said Russian skating fans generally regard the quad as the key credential for a male skater.

"I was very excited to do it in Russia," he said.

Asked why he was finally going for the quad, he said, "There's no better year to try to do it than the year after the Olympics."

Abbott, skating to tango music, radiated confidence and control, landing four strong triples.

"I was very nervous," he said. "I didn't have as much fun with my skating as I typically do."

Kavaguti and Smirnov were out of practice for four months this year because of health problems. Their program to the classical work "Also Sprach Zarathustra" had some small rough points, including her putting a hand out on the triple toe loop.

Smirnov said overall they were satisfied with their comeback, but Kavaguti admitted "sometimes it feels like we've just started skating together."

Russians also led the ice dancing after Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitiri Soloviev's waltz to Tom Jones' "Delilah." Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali of Italy, and Hungary's Nora Hoffmann and Maxim Zavozin, were less than four points behind.

Suzuki showed stronger jumps than in her second-place showing at the Cup of China this year, including a precisely landed triple lutz and a very fast double axel.

"My short program wasn't perfect, but it was good," she said. "But my spins were better in China."

Zawadzki, the U.S. juniors champion in her first year in seniors competition, is coming off a sixth-place showing at Skate Canada.

"I'm just trying to skate my best," she said about whether she was surprised by her performance in Moscow.

Her ambitious Latin-music program included an opening combination of two triple toe loops, followed by a triple lutz.

Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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