Patrick Chan, Virtue/Moir take early leads at Skate Canada

Patrick Chan

Patrick Chan‘s first skate of the Grand Prix season was clearly the best at Skate Canada on Friday, and he can still improve.

Chan, the three-time reigning world champion, leads after the short program with 88.10 points, more than seven points better than Japanese Nobunari Oda at Saint John, New Brunswick.

Canadian Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir lead the ice dance but weren’t as impressive as American rivals Meryl Davis and Charlie White the week before.

Skate Canada, the second of six Grand Prix events before the Grand Prix Final, concludes Saturday with the pairs free skate (12 ET), women’s free skate (2:15), free dance (4:30) and men’s free skate (7:10). Universal Sports will have coverage.

NBC and NBC Live Extra will have Skate Canada coverage Sunday from 4-6.

Chan’s short program, to Rachmaninoff’s Elegie in E-Flat Minor, was well short of his world record performance (98.37) at the World Championships in March. He also did not attempt a quadruple jump.

Still, he was the cleanest skater on a night where everybody else was less than perfect in one way or another. His biggest threat, budding Japanese star Yuzuru Hanyu, landed an awkward quad toe and doubled the first jump of a combination for 80.40 points, just behind Oda’s 80.82.

Chan’s score Friday would not have been first at Skate America, where another Japanese, Tatsuki Machida, scored 91.18 in the short program en route to winning in Detroit.

The U.S. contingent left plenty to be desired at Skate Canada.

Three-time national champion Jeremy Abbott landed a beautiful quadruple toe loop to start his program.

He followed it with a double-double combination and a triple Axel where he put his hand down. The 2010 Olympian is in fourth place with 74.58 points.

“I landed (the quad) and then I was like, how do I refocus here?” he told coach Yuka Sato in the kiss-and-cry area. “I just felt a little tight.”

World junior champion Josh Farris, in his Grand Prix debut, did not attempt a quad and singled the second jump of his combination.

“My legs were just so shaky, and I kind of knew going into it, I was like, ‘Oh crap,'” Farris, in eighth with 69.14, said in the kiss-and-cry.

Reigning U.S. silver medalist Ross Miner had a disastrous night, falling on his first two jumps. He’s in last place.

He barely said a word in the kiss and cry, his eyes scanning the floor, and only registered a smile when the crowd offered consolatory applause.

The wait for an American man to put together back-to-back strong skates will last at least another week.

In ice dancing, Virtue and Moir were noticeably disappointed with their leading short dance performance. They had issues with their twizzles en route to a 73.15, nearly three points better than compatriots Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje.

The Canadians are believed to be the biggest threats to Davis and White for gold in Sochi, though the Americans beat them at the three biggest events last season. Davis and White also posted a higher short dance score at Skate America last week — 75.70.

In short, Virtue and Moir have work to do.

The only U.S. ice dance couple at Skate Canada posted a personal best short dance.

Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue were in third place with 60.92 points. They were fourth at Skate America and are in the running for one of three spots on the U.S. Olympic Team.

Video: Gracie Gold stars in women’s short program

Men’s Short Program
1. Patrick Chan (CAN) 88.10
2. Nobunari Oda (JPN) 80.82
3. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) 80.40
4. Jeremy Abbott (USA) 74.58
5. Takahito Mura (JPN) 73.08
6. Elladj Balde (CAN) 72.35
7. Michal Brezina (CZE) 71.71
8. Josh Farris (USA) 69.14
9. Andrei Rogozine (CAN) 68.31
10. Ross Miner (USA) 66.71

Short Dance
1. Virtue/Moir (CAN) 73.15
2. Weaver/Poje (CAN) 70.35
3. Hubbell/Donohue (USA) 60.92
4. Razanova/Tkachenko (RUS) 59.79
5. Zhiganshina/Gazsi (GER) 55.91
6. Stepanova/Bukin (RUS) 55.63
7. Paul/Islam (CAN) 53.74
8. Guignard/Fabbri (ITA) 52.03

Patrick Chan defends Detroit, inspired by Justin Verlander

French Open: Sloane Stephens takes out seed Karolina Pliskova

Sloane Stephens

PARIS — Back on her “favorite court in the world,” Sloane Stephens looked sharp in her opening match at the French Open with a 6-0, 6-4 win over two-time major finalist Karolina Pliskova.

While Stephens’ only Grand Slam title came at the 2017 U.S. Open, she’s also had sustained success at Roland Garros, finishing as a runner-up to Simona Halep in 2018 and reaching two quarterfinals on the red clay in Paris — including last year.

“This is my favorite court in the world, so I’m super happy to be back,” Stephens told the crowd on Court Philippe Chatrier. “To start a Slam on your favorite court, your favorite surface, is always incredible.”

She helped American women go 4-0 through the first few hours of play on Day 2 of the tournament after a 1-4 start on Sunday, when the only U.S. victory came in a match between two players from the country: Jessica Pegula beat Danielle Collins.

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

Madison Keys, the runner-up to Stephens in New York six years ago and a semifinalist at Roland Garros in 2018, beat Kaia Kanepi 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 on Monday to improve her career record in the first round of majors to 35-5.

Keys next plays American qualifier Kayla Day, who eliminated French wild-card entry Kristina Mladenovic 7-5, 6-1.

Also, Croatian-born American Bernarda Pera beat former No. 2-ranked Anett Kontaveit 7-6 (6), 6-2.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, a finalist in Paris in 2021, breezed past Czech teenager Linda Fruhvirtova 6-2, 6-2; and 22nd-seeded Donna Vekic beat qualifier Dayana Yastremska 6-2, 7-5.

Stephens was down a break in the second set against Pliskova but then won three straight games to close it out.

Stephens had a 19-16 edge in winners and committed only 10 unforced errors to 31 by Pliskova, who lost in the finals of the U.S. Open in 2016 and Wimbledon in 2021.

“This court is a bit tricky. You have to play on it a lot to understand when the wind is blowing and where it’s coming,” Stephens said. “The more you play on it, the more you understand it. But it’s a very complicated court. But that’s what makes it so amazing.”

Stephens won a small clay-court tournament in Saint Malo, France, at the start of the month and also reached the semifinals of the Morocco Open last week after only playing a total of three matches at bigger clay events in Madrid and Rome.

“Last year, my clay season wasn’t great, but I played amazing at Roland Garros last year,” Stephens said, “and this year, I really wanted to get matches and play a lot and to see where that got me.”

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Canada wins men’s hockey world title; Latvia wins first medal

IIHF Hockey World Championship

TAMPERE, Finland — Samuel Blais scored two goals to rally Canada to a 5-2 victory over Germany in the final of the world men’s hockey championship on Sunday.

It’s a record 28th world title for Canada, and its second in three years. Russia has 27 while Germany has never won the trophy.

Blais netted with a backhand 4:51 into the final period for a 3-2 lead for Canada, which was playing in its fourth straight final.

“It feels really good,” Blais said. “We’ve been in Europe for a month and we’ve all waited for that moment to play for the gold medal game. And we’re lucky enough to have won it.”

Lawson Crouse, Tyler Toffoli and Scott Laughton also scored for Canada, Peyton Krebs had two assists and goaltender Samuel Montembeault stopped 21 shots.

Toffoli stretched the lead to 4-2 from the left circle with 8:09 remaining and Laughton made it 5-2 with an empty net goal.

Adam Fantilli became only the second Canadian player after Jonathan Toews to win gold at the world juniors and world championship the same year.

Canada had to come back twice in the final.

John Peterka wristed a shot past Montembeault from the left circle 7:44 into the game. It was the sixth goal for the Buffalo Sabres forward at the tournament.

Blais was fed by Krebs to beat goaltender Mathias Niederberger and tie it 1-1 at 10:47.

Daniel Fischbuch put the Germans ahead again with a one-timer with 6:13 to go in the middle period.

Crouse equalized on a power play with 2:32 remaining in the frame.

It was the first medal for Germany since 1953 when it was second behind Sweden.

The two previously met just once in the final with Canada winning 6-1 in 1930.


Defenseman Kristian Rubins scored his second goal 1:22 into overtime to lead Latvia to a 4-3 victory over the United States and earn a bronze medal earlier Sunday.

It’s the first top-three finish for Latvia at the tournament. Its previous best was a seventh place it managed three times.

The U.S. lost in the bronze medal game for the second straight year. The U.S. team was cruising through the tournament with eight straight wins until it was defeated by Germany in the semifinal 4-3 in overtime.

Rubins rallied Latvia with his first with 5:39 to go in the final period to tie the game at 3 to force overtime.

Roberts Bukarts and Janis Jaks also scored for Latvia.

Rocco Grimaldi scored twice for the U.S. in the opening period to negate Latvia’s 1-0 and 2-1 leads.

Matt Coronato had put the U.S. 3-2 ahead 6:19 into the final period.

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