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

Patrick Chan
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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

Olympian Derrick Mein ends U.S. men’s trap drought at shotgun worlds

Derrick Mein
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Tokyo Olympian Derrick Mein became the first U.S. male shooter to win a world title in the trap event since 1966, prevailing at the world shotgun championships in Osijek, Croatia, on Wednesday.

Mein, who grew up on a small farm in Southeast Kansas, hunting deer and quail, nearly squandered a place in the final when he missed his last three shots in the semifinal round after hitting his first 22. He rallied in a sudden-death shoot-off for the last spot in the final by hitting all five of his targets.

He hit 33 of 34 targets in the final to win by two over Brit Nathan Hales with one round to spare.

The last U.S. man to win an Olympic trap title was Donald Haldeman in 1976.

Mein, 37, was 24th in his Olympic debut in Tokyo (and placed 13th with Kayle Browning in the mixed-gender team event).

The U.S. swept the Tokyo golds in the other shotgun event — skeet — with Vincent Hancock and Amber English. Browning took silver in women’s trap.

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Mo Farah withdraws before London Marathon

Mo Farah
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British track legend Mo Farah withdrew before Sunday’s London Marathon, citing a right hip injury before what would have been his first 26.2-mile race in nearly two years.

Farah, who swept the 2012 and 2016 Olympic track titles at 5000m and 10,000m, said he hoped “to be back out there” next April, when the London Marathon returns to its traditional month after COVID moved it to the fall for three consecutive years. Farah turns 40 on March 23.

“I’ve been training really hard over the past few months and I’d got myself back into good shape and was feeling pretty optimistic about being able to put in a good performance,” in London, Farah said in a press release. “However, over the past 10 days I’ve been feeling pain and tightness in my right hip. I’ve had extensive physio and treatment and done everything I can to be on the start line, but it hasn’t improved enough to compete on Sunday.”

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

Sunday’s London Marathon men’s race is headlined by Ethiopians Kenenisa Bekele and Birhanu Legese, the second- and third-fastest marathoners in history.

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