Chan, Kostner move into lead at GP Final

by Gus Fielding

Kyodo

If there was any suggestion Canadian figure skating fans had fallen out of love with world champion Patrick Chan, they certainly didn’t show it at the Grand Prix Final on Friday.

Chan earned a standing ovation after launching his title defense with a passionate, if not perfect, skate to win the men’s short program on an emotionally charged night in Quebec City.

Earlier, Italy’s Carolina Kostner established a commanding lead after the women’s short program — but was inconsolable after learning of the death of the mother of star Mao Asada.

Kostner capitalized on Mao’s absence with an elegant performance that earned her 66.43 points and a healthy advantage over Akiko Suzuki.

The women’s field was reduced to five after two-time world champion Mao pulled out of the prestigious event on Thursday.

Suzuki stepped out of a triple flip-triple toe loop but was otherwise error-free en route to second place with 61:30.

Russia’s Alena Leonova was third with 60.46, but 14-year-old compatriot Elizaveta Tuktamisheva had an error-strewn skate and was last in the field with 54.99.

“Today I tried a triple combination with a flip for the first time and I am really disappointed that I couldn’t pull it off, but the rest of the program was quite good so I think that’s why I am in second place,” said Suzuki.

Chan, who apologized Thursday over a report that quoted him as saying he felt underappreciated by Canadian fans and would be more appreciated if he skated in China, crashed into the boards after falling on a triple loop that followed his opening quad, but came back to take the lead with 86.63 points.

Jeremy Abbott of the United States was second with 82.66 and Spaniard Javier Fernandez was third with 81.26.

On a disappointing night for Japanese men, Daisuke Takahashi under-rotated his quad and botched a triple combination jump to place fifth with 76.49, one place behind compatriot and GP Final debutant Yuzuru Hanyu. Hanyu fell on his opening jump and scored 79.33.