Nathan Chen leads first day of figure skating Grand Prix Finals

By Emily Pacenti  |  Dec. 7, 2017 at 3:57 PM
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Dec. 7 (UPI) -- American figure skater Nathan Chen is delivering on expectations to lead the Grand Prix Finals in Nagoya, Japan, as the first day of competition wraps up.

Here's a look at Thursday's results.

Men's competition

Chen, 18, leads the men's field while Japan's Shoma Uno, 19, sits in second place. One of the surprise qualifiers, Mikhail Kolyada of Russia, ended in the day in third place, followed by American Jason Brown, Russian Sergei Voronov and the third American qualifier, Adam Rippon.

Chen's leading short program contained two successful quadruple jumps, a lutz and a flip. Despite some missteps on landings, Chen stayed on his feet. "It's great to feel that you are in the lead," Chen told Ice Network afterward. "Both of my quads were a little bit shaky; that was because I was nervous and a little stressed."

Chen sits less than two points ahead of Uno, who suffered a surprise fall when he slipped off the edge on his triple axel landing. Uno also received an unexpected one-point deduction for a time violation. His two deductions, the fall and the time violation, put him in second place.

Kolyada suffered a fall on a quadruple lutz as well, but fully rotated.

Brown and Rippon skated fairly clean with no falls, landing them in fourth and sixth after the short program.

Pairs competition

German comeback team Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot ended the first day in the lead, with Canadian pair Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford unexpectedly in fifth place.

Savchenko and Massot took the lead despite costume and equipment mishaps. After beginning their program, Massot detected a softness in his skate boot. "When I landed the jump, I felt that the skating boot was soft, and when I did the throw, I was sure that it was broken," Massot told Ice Network. "I told [Aliona], and she just said, 'Go, go.'" Massot's lace turned out to be broken as did the zipper on Savchenko's dress. Despite the misfortunes, the pair still completed four different level 4 elements.

Right behind them is Russian pair Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, whose Olympic participation is yet to be determined due to the International Olympic Committee's decision to ban the Russian team. (Some individuals may be able to compete under a neutral flag.)

They are only half a point behind the leading pair and completed multiple level 4 elements.

"Maybe toward the end of the program we got tired a little and that's what influenced our scores," Morozov said. "But the first half of the program was really good."

Frequent favorites Wenjing Sui and Cong Han of China had a rough start to their program with Han's fall on a triple toe loop, but the pair is still in third place.

Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov of Russia sit in fourth place, with Duhamel and Radford at fifth, and Xiayu Yu Hao Zhang of China in sixth place.

Ice dance competition

A battle between French stars Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, and Canadian team Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir is under way with the French pair in the lead by 0.54 points.

Dancing to Ed Sheeran, the leading pair was satisfied with their results. "It was a really, really good performance, the best of the season," Papadakis said.

The Canadians' close second is set to medley of "Hotel California" and the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy For the Devil." They received the same levels as their rivals and earned 81.53 points.

American favorites, the Shibutani siblings Maia and Alex, are only about four points behind the lead. A mistake on a twizzle is one factor that put them just slightly behind. Their rumba pattern only received a level 2.

The other two American teams to qualify sit below them with Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue in fourth place and Madison Chock and Evan Bates in fifth. Italian team Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte are in last place.

The competition continues Friday with the ladies short program and the men's free skate.

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