American Lysacek victorious in free skate

by Jim Armstrong

The Associated Press

World champion Evan Lysacek won the men’s free skate on Friday as the United States remained in the lead at the figure skating World Team Trophy.

Lysacek, who was second after Thursday’s short program, received 154.86 points in the free skate to finish with a total of 238.56 points. Brian Joubert of France, first after the short program, was second with 237.09 points, followed by Nobunari Oda with 229.25.

With just the pairs and women’s free skate remaining Saturday, the United States leads with 59 points, followed by Canada with 53 and Japan with 52.

American pair Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto were first in the free dance event with 98.71 points to follow up their first-place finish in the original dance Thursday. Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada were second with 95.73 points.

“I’m very proud of our team,” Lysacek said. “Tanith and Benjamin did a great job in the free dance and I just tried to carry the momentum over from that.”

Skating to “Rhapsody in Blue,” Lysacek opened with a triple lutz-triple toeloop combination and picked up momentum with each element he nailed.

World silver medalist Patrick Chan of Canada, who was ninth after the short program, recovered to score 151.95 points in the free skate to finish in fourth place with 217.98 points. Jeremy Abbott of the United States was fifth with 205.05 points.

Moir, the captain of the Canadian team, was happy with his team’s performance.

“I’m very pleased with the way things went today,” Moir said. “We moved up a spot in the standings and that was due to the way the men skated today. This will motivate us to try to get closer to the powerhouse Americans tomorrow.”

Mao Asada was first in the women’s short program Thursday and will try to rally the hosts with a strong free skate on Saturday. World silver medalist Joannie Rochette of Canada was second while Americans Caroline Zhang and Rachael Flatt were fourth and fifth, respectively.

The inaugural ISU World Team Trophy features the six best figure skating teams of the 2008-09 season.

Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao of China won the pairs short program with 70.42 points.