World champions lead after pairs short, ice dance compulsory

PARIS -- Teenager Patrick Chan enjoyed his best performance of the season and Joannie Rochette overcame a spill as the Canadian skaters led after the men's and women's short programs in the Trophee Bompard on Friday.

Rochette fell attempting a triple flip-triple toe loop combination, but recovered well enough to score 59.54 points and push world champion Mao Asada of Japan into second place with 58.12.

"When I went into my first flip, I don't know what happened," Rochette said. "Jumps happen so fast you don't have time to think. My practice was going well. When you go into a competition it's a different thing."

The Japanese skater failed to complete the same jump as Rochette, executing the first part perfectly but managing only one toe loop when the minimum for a combination was two.

"I am not satisfied with today's performance," said Asada, the defending Trophee Bompard champion. "I think my mind was probably a bit weak. Maybe I was thinking too much."

The top three all looked shaky, with Caroline Zhang pulling out of her double axel attempt but still scoring enough with 51.76 to head off fellow American Beatrisa Liang at 49.60.

"On the double axel it was just a surprise," Zhang said, adding that she needs to concentrate much better "on my spins and spirals" heading into Saturday's decisive free program.

Earlier, skating to "Tango de los Exilados" by Walter Taieb, Chan hit near-perfect landings on a triple axel, a triple flip-triple toe loop and a triple lutz in quick succession for 81.39. Japan's Takahiko Kozuka was second with 77, and 2006 champion Brian Joubert of France was third with 73.75.

"Pretty good. I did everything I planned to do. Luckily this time I didn't make any mistakes on footwork," said the 17-year-old Chan, whose previous best this season was 77.47.

Kozuka started strong but was undone when he landed on his outside skate after a flying sit spin and tumbled over.

"My program was fine, but I have some regrets," Kozuka said. "Tomorrow, I don't want to make any mistakes."

Joubert's high-octane performance got off to a poor start when his attempted quad toe loop-triple toe loop failed.

"I'm very disappointed about my combination. I don't know what happened," said Joubert, who managed just one toe loop before backing out of the rest of the jump. "Everything was ready for the jump, my six-minute warmup was great. But I couldn't jump. I'm happy that the rest of my program was clean."

In pairs, world champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany had a season-best score of 68.18 to lead Maria Mukhortova and Maxim Trankov of Russia, who had a 64.84.

Meagan Duhamel and Craig Buntin of Canada were third with 58.66. The free program is on Saturday.

In ice dance, world champions Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder of France dominated the compulsory program.

Delobel and Schoenfelder, the Skate America champions, will try to extend their lead in the original category later Friday.

Delobel and Schoenfelder scored 37.98 points, while Italian pair Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali had 34.46 and siblings Sinead Kerr and John Kerr of Britain had 32.32.

The Trophee Bompard is the fourth of six figure skating events in the ISU Grand Prix, with Moscow and Tokyo to follow. Skaters collect points toward a place in the Grand Prix final in Seoul, South Korea, next month, but can only compete at two events.