Uno takes second in short program

STAFF REPORT, KYODO, AP, AFP-JIJI

Japanese skaters had a solid showing in the men’s short program on Friday night at the Four Continents Championships. Three of the top seven finishers were Japanese, including runnerup Shoma Uno, who earned 92.99 points.

China’s Jin Boyang took first with 98.45 points in a flawless short program that included a quad lutz and a quad toe loop.

Compatriot Yan Han earned 89.57 for third place.

The 18-year-old Uno, who in his first senior season placed third at the Grand Prix Final in December, moved slightly when landing his opening quad toe loop. However, he executed a triple axel and a triple flip-triple toe loop combination without trouble at Taipei Arena, where he nailed his first quad toe loop two years ago.

“I’m not totally satisfied but I don’t think it was a bad performance,” Uno said. “I over-rotated a little bit and was anxious if I could land (the quad toe loop) but somehow managed it.”

Uno finished fifth here last year, when he twisted his ankle during his free skate warmup and botched his jumps to fall from second after the short program, and is determined to put things straight this time around.

“I would like to get the title but I made mistakes last season in the free skate, and have that frustrating and sad memory. I’ll try not to repeat that and put everything I’ve learned this year in (on Sunday),” Uno said.

Takahito Mura was fourth with 89.08 points and Keiji Tanaka took seventh with 74.82.

Canadian star Patrick Chan was fifth on 86.22 points, while Grant Hochstein of the United States took sixth (75.79).

Chan hit his opening quad toe loop, but touched the ice on his landing. His planned triple toe loop was only a double and he finished with 86.22 points.

“I haven’t felt comfortable in training all week,” Chan said. “Considering that, I’m really happy with the skate, staying on feet, playing it smart and not making major mistakes.”

Chan said he’s taking a patient approach to his comeback.

“This season I want to take my time, be methodical. So far every competition it has been getting better,” he said.

Skate America champion Max Aaron also struggled with his short program and finished in eighth place with 69.48 points.

Defending champion and Olympic medalist Denis Ten withdrew from the competition earlier this week citing knee pain.

Continuing a trend of strong American ice dance finishes, Maia and Alex Shibutani of the United States won the title.

The siblings finished first in the free dance to win the overall event with 181.62 points.

They were followed by countrymen Madison Chock and Evan Bates, with 174.64 points. Canada’s Caitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje were third with 173.85, followed by yet another U.S. tandem, Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue.

Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White won the Sochi Olympics gold.

“It is a really gratifying feeling,” Alex Shibutani said. “We’ve been working so hard over the past four seasons in particular, but this season we’ve been really focused on making sure we make the most of every opportunity.”

The Shibutanis finished ninth at the 2014 Olympics. They won their first U.S. title in January.

“We were very excited to win the national title for the first time and that has a level of confidence that comes with it that we took into this week,” Alex Shibutani added. “I think that our skating has reached another level and we’re excited about the possibilities. We’re always looking to improve and this is a great start.”