Ashley Wagner leads Skate Canada as Olympic, World champions struggle

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Ashley Wagner recorded a personal-best short program and leads Skate Canada heading into Saturday’s free skate.

Wagner, a three-time U.S. champion, landed all of her jumps cleanly for 70.73 points, her first time breaking the 70-point barrier. She has a comfortable 7.38-point lead over Japan’s Yuka Nagai.

“I like to think that that performance is just kind of a preview of what I’m capable of,” Wagner said in Lethbrige, Alberta. “I was skating in shows all summer, so I had about a month to really get everything together. … I think that there is more to come with that program. The more I get comfortable with the style and the movement, I think it will just build on top of that.”

World champion Elizaveta Tuktamysheva of Russia followed Wagner with a sluggish performance on her jumps for 55.37 points, good enough for seventh place.

Tuktamysheva, who was 10th at the 2013 Russian Championships, won eight titles last season, including sweeping the Grand Prix Final, European Championships and Worlds.

U.S. Olympian Polina Edmunds placed fifth in the short program, under-rotating two jumps.

The men’s competition provided a surprise leader in Japan’s Daisuke Murakami, who totaled 80.88 to edge Olympic silver medalist and three-time World champion Patrick Chan by .07.

The Canadian Chan, back after taking one season off, fell on a triple Axel and doubled a planned triple Lutz.

“Frustrating,” Chan said, according to The Associated Press. “Better next time.”

Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu also struggled, receiving zero points on two of his three jumping passes, and is in sixth place.

Icenetwork.com will broadcast Saturday’s free skates (2 p.m. ET for women; 8:45 for men) live for subscribers. NBC will air coverage Sunday from 4:30-6 p.m. ET.

MORE FIGURE SKATING: Full season broadcast schedule