Joannie Rochette put down an impressive—and career best—performance in the short program Friday to win that segment of the competition at Skate Canada in Kitchener, Ont. The Canadian star scored 70 points. American Alissa Czisny is more than seven points back in second place with teammate Mirai Nagasu in third (56.34).
“I was really happy to do this after China. I was a bit disappointed there and I think I needed to change some things mentally when I went back home,” Rochette said. “I worked very hard, and I think we found a way to make me feel better. My goal tonight when I stepped on the ice was to feel calm and relaxed, and I think I achieved that. I still think I’m able to skate better, so it’s encouraging for the rest of the season.”
Rochette’s elegant interpretation of “La Cumparasita” was highlighted by a solid triple Lutz-double toe loop combination, a triple flip and double Axel. The reigning World silver medalist picked up a level four for the flying sit spin and a level three for the other two spins, the footwork and the spiral sequence. She received 38.40 element score/31.60 program component score to improve her previous personal best by 2.10 points. “I think it’s a great program and a great enough vehicle that I don’t need the triple-triple if I do all the elements properly. The main difference (here) is that I had a plan and I stuck to it,” she said.
Czisny put out a strong performance to “The Mask of Zorro” as well. “I always enjoy skating in Canada so I was happy to be back here in again,” she said. “I just went out there and tried to skate my best and enjoy the performance and build on my performances earlier this season.”
Czisny, who won the title at Skate Canada in 2005 and was the competition’s bronze medalist last year, nailed a triple Lutz-double toe, a triple flip and double Axel. The 2009 U.S. champion’s spins were fast and well-centered spins. Czisny’s score was also a personal best.
Nagasu’s playful program to “Pirates of the Caribbean” included a triple Lutz-double toe loop combination, a double Axel and a beautiful layback spin. However, she received some deductions for the triple flip for an edge attention (short take-off with wrong edge).
“Although my points weren’t as high as they were in China, I felt more confident in my skating,” she said. “Hopefully, by nationals, I’ll be able to put two and two together and get the points and the confidence.”
Meanwhile Canadian men's champion, Patrick Chan, struggled and landed in sixth place in the men's short program, which was won by American Jeremy Abbott. Japan’s Daisuke Takahashi and Denis Ten of Kazakhstan placed second and third, respectively.
Abbott delivered a strong performance to “A Day in the Life” by The Beatles. Abbott scored 79.00 points (42.60 element score/36.40 program component score). "After Japan, I really learned a lot about the program and places that needed a little tweaking. I feel a lot more comfortable with the program than I did in Japan. Going into Japan, I didn't feel very comfortable the program was still very, very new, less than two months old," he said. "Now its only two weeks older but having gone through it here, I do feel a lot more comfortable and confident going into tomorrow."
Abbott reeled off a triple flip-triple toe loop combination, a triple Axel and a triple Lutz as well as difficult spins and steps. The reigning Grand Prix Final champion earned a level four for all three spins and a level three for both step sequences.
"I was very happy with my performance tonight. It was interesting to get through," Abbot said. "I had something happen back home with a family that I knew, so for personal reasons it was not easy to get through tonight. But I was very happy with how I skated and the program that I put out and Im excited to be in first place going into the free skate.
"There was this girl that I used to skate with back in Colorado and she died skiing. She actually hit a tree and died instantly. Her family was very, very sweet and I just wanted to do the best that I could in her memory, to do something more than for myself and my own placement tonight."
Takahashi opened his routine to a modern Tango titled “Cobe” with a triple flip-triple toe loop combination, but the second jump was underrotated and downgraded. The 2007 World silver medalist went on to complete a solid triple Axel and a triple Lutz. He was awarded a level four for the combination spin and a level three for the other two spins while the footwork was a level two. The Japanese star scored 76.30 points (39.20/37.10).
"I enjoyed skating tonight, but I regret I couldnt skate the (step sequence) to a higher level and I missed the first jump," he said. "[I rate it)]about 75 percent. This is the third time I have skated this program and the best overall. Im pretty happy about it."
Ten's performance came as a little surprise. "I'm very happy I was able to share everything I can do in training and for me, its quite unexpected for me to be here at the press conference with these great skaters. It's very nice for me to be here and I hope its not the last time."
The 16-year-old impressed the crowd and the judges with an excellent program to “Sing Sing Sing” that featured a big triple Axel, a triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination, a triple flip and level-four spins. The crowd rewarded the performance with a standing ovation and the judges with a score of 75.45 points (43.60/31.85). Ten improved his previous personal best of 68.54 points significantly.
Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany captured the pairs short program with a new personal best score. Russia’s Maria Mukhortova and Maxim Trankov and Canadians Jessica Dubé and Bryce Davison came in second and third.
Performing to “Send in the Clowns,” Savchenko and Szolkowy delivered a strong performance that featured a high throw triple twist, side by side triple toe loops and a triple twist. The two-time and reigning World champions earned 74.16 points (40.48 element score/33.68 program component score), a personal best. “ The performance today was not bad. Actually, it was quite good but not perfect. We were a little bit slow, kind of tired. But we concentrated on the elements," Szolkow said. "Skating in Canada is always great fun for us and to get the support from the audience is a great feeling every time."
Mukhortova and Trankov routine to “Appassionata” by Secret Garden was highlighted by a high triple twist and excellent side-by-side triple toe loops. The European bronze medalists score d65.80 points (37.12/28.68). "We don’t think about the final result, about medals, about podium. We just want to skate clean, our programs, every competition. We only think about this, not who wins or who loses<' Trnkov said. "It’s not so important. It’s important to be good on the ice."
Dubé and Davison landed a triple twist, but he caught her late. The 2008 World bronze medalists completed a throw triple loop and level-four spins, but Dubé singled the side-by-side Salchow. The Candian champions collected 57.90 points (31.14/26.76). "I felt really good. I guess my timing was a little quick," Dubé said. "I don’t really know what happened. I’ll just do it tomorrow."
Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada danced to the lead in after the compulsory dance. France’s Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat came in second while Canadians Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje ranked third.