Figure Skating

Shoma Uno, Wakaba Higuchi both in second place after Skate Canada short program

Kyodo, AP, Staff Report

Shoma Uno finished second Friday in the short program at Skate Canada, the second event of the Grand Prix season.

Uno, the silver medalist at the Pyeongchang Olympics, fell attempting a triple axel and scored 88.87 points, narrowly edging South Korea’s Cha Jun-hwan (88.86), who is in third place.

“I was landing triple axels in practice, but I was careless here,” Uno said. “Frustration and a feeling of regret led to a tough performance. It is not about me taking a high risk, I just can’t do triples.”

Canada’s Keegan Messing leads the 12-man competition with 95.05, while Kazuki Tomono finished eighth with 81.63.

In the women’s short program, Russia’s Elizaveta Tuktamysheva is out in front with 74.22. Wakaba Higuchi finished second with 66.51, while 15-year-old Mako Yamashita (66.30)placed third in her senior GP debut.

Two-time world champion Evgenia Medvedeva (60.83) ended up seventh. Medvedeva almost fell on the first jump — a triple flip — of a combination, and lost major points for not completing the required element.

Yura Matsuda (53.35) sits in 10th place.

The men’s and women’s free skate are both set for Saturday.

Tuktamysheva was happy she could land her biggest jump.

“I feel great. I skated a clean short program with the triple axel for the first time (this season),” Tuktamysheva was quoted as saying by the ISU website. “I am so happy that I did everything what I want.”

Higuchi was content with her effort on this day.

“I am happy to perform better than in practice and that I didn’t pop any jumps. That was good for me,” the world silver medalist stated. “Compared to my last competition, in my practice I tried to improve each element, to do better jumps and to spin faster.”

Yamashita was glad to have her first skate at her senior GP debut go smoothly.

“I was able to have fun when skating today and I did not make any big mistakes,” Yamashita commented.

Newly engaged and with his first GP title within reach, Messing couldn’t find words to describe his elation Friday night.

“Cloud 9” didn’t quite cut it.

“I’m above the clouds,” Messing said.

The Canadian led his home GP, less than a week after he asked girlfriend Lane Hodson to be his wife on an Alaskan mountain top.

Skating to “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from the movie “Toy Story,” the 26-year-old showman scored 95.05 points, opening with a quadruple toe loop/triple toe loop combination, then landing a triple axel en route to a clean program.

“I’m pretty dang excited,” Messing said.

The 26-year-old Messing was born in Girdwood, an Alaskan resort town just south of Anchorage, where he now lives. He has dual citizenship because mother Sally was born in Edmonton, Alberta, and raised in Peterborough, Ontario, before moving to Alaska.

Messing is an avid outdoorsman, and so a mountain-top engagement seemed perfect. He and his girlfriend of 2½ years set out for McHugh Peak in the Chugach Mountains last Saturday.

“We had to pitch a wind block because it was blowing about 30-40 miles an hour up there. Everything went wrong. I made her favorite soup but then forgot the matches for the stove. So no soup. No hot chocolate,” he said. “But if she says ‘yes’ when everything goes wrong . . .”

Messing was 12th in his Olympic debut in Pyeongchang, just four spots behind Canada’s three-time world champion Patrick Chan. With Chan’s retirement, Messing is a likely heir to the top spot in the country.

“It’s one step at a time right now,” Messing said. “Right now, just focus on skating and see where it takes me, and if it takes me to the top then I’m going to grasp it with two hands and smile while doing it.”

Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres of France led the pairs, scoring 74.51 points in the short program. China’s Peng Cheng and Jin Yang were second at 72.00, followed by Canada’s Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro at 71.26.

In ice dance, Americans Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue scored 80.29 points to open a big lead. Russia’s Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov were second at 74.66, followed by Spain’s Olivia Smart and Adrian Diaz at (72.35).