Getty Images

Vincent Zhou stumbles at U.S. International Classic

Leave a comment

Canada’s Nam Nguyen sits in first place after the short program at the U.S. International Classic competition in Salt Lake City, Utah on Thursday, marking the first true weekend of figure skating competition for the 2018-19 season. Nguyen totaled 80.28 points under the newly-implemented scoring system, which uses a Grade of Execution scale of -5 to +5. The previous scale, such as the one used in PyeongChang, was -3 to +3.

He leads Michal Brezina of the Czech Republic who scored 79.57 points and Ukraine’s Yaroslav Paniot with 74.97 points.

Jimmy Ma leads the American men, sitting fourth with 73.21 points. Vincent Zhou, who finished sixth at the PyeongChang Olympics, is sixth after scoring 61.72 points. Zhou invalidated two jumps in his program – a popped Salchow and a popped Axel – which received zero credit, and under-rotated the quad Lutz in his combination.

“The jumps weren’t really there today but I think the performance was good and I gave it my best efforts as I always do. I’m just starting my season so hopefully tomorrow goes better,” Zhou said, though his program featured three spins which all achieved Level 4s.

Earlier Thursday, Americans Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc took the lead in the pairs’ short program with 59.10 points. Cain called her fall on the throw triple Lutz a “weird mistake.”

LeDuc didn’t hold back on the team’s goals for the season.

“We’ve worked really hard this offseason to be ready to do everything that we want to do. We want to be U.S. champions, we want to get the two spots back for Team USA at Worlds,” he said, in reference to the single allotted spot for a Team USA pair at the 2019 World Championships.

Friday’s action from Salt Lake includes 2018 Worlds silver medalist ice dancers Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue in the rhythm dance (formerly short dance), plus the ladies’ short program and pairs’ and men’s free skates. All of the action is streaming live on NBC Sports’ Gold Figure Skating Pass (more on that here).

Also this weekend in the figure skating world, competition was underway at the Lombardia Trophy in Italy. After Thursday’s short programs, Olympic silver medalist Shoma Uno from Japan leads the men’s field with 104.15 points and 2015 world champion Elizaveta Tuktamysheva of Russia leads the ladies with 65.69 points. Russians Natalia Zabiiako and Alexander Enbert are currently first in the pairs’ field with 72.50 points. Competition in Bergamo continues Friday and Saturday.

Patrick Chan returns at loaded Skate Canada for Olympic rematch

Yuzuru Hanyu, Patrick Chan
AP
Leave a comment

Of the six events leading up to the Grand Prix Final in December, this week’s Skate Canada boasts the strongest singles field.

The most anticipated skater is Canadian Patrick Chan, the 2011, 2012 and 2013 World champion who is competing at the top international level for the first time since being bumped to silver at the Sochi 2014 Olympics.

Chan, 24, said missing an Olympic title did not determine whether he would return to the sport following a one-season break. Any achievements the rest of his career will be “a bonus,” he said in May.

Chan will seek his fifth Skate Canada title against a field that includes the man who beat him in Sochi, Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu.

Icenetwork.com will broadcast Friday’s short programs (4:20 p.m. ET for the women; 7:45 ET for the men) and 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

Hanyu, 20, also has something to prove this season after taking silver at the World Championships in March behind Spain’s Javier Fernandez.

“I found that the men’s event [all last season] was, as I expected, nothing too special, no offense,” Chan said in May.

The other men’s podium threats include a pair seeking their first Grand Prix victories, Canadian national champion Nam Nguyen and U.S. silver medalist Adam Rippon.

The women’s competition features Russian Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, who romped to the World title in March while landing a triple Axel. Tuktamysheva won eight titles last season, including sweeping the Grand Prix Final, European Championships and Worlds.

This season, Tuktamysheva can become the first woman to repeat as World champion since Michelle Kwan, but she may have to go through Japan’s Mao Asada to do it. Asada outscored Tuktamysheva at the Japan Open team event in October in her first competition since winning the 2014 World title one month after Sochi.

Tuktamysheva won’t have to worry about Asada at Skate Canada.

The Russian will be a heavy favorite this week against a field that includes U.S. Olympians Ashley Wagner and Polina Edmunds, who were fifth and eighth at Worlds.

Wagner and Edmunds each endured highs and lows last season.

Wagner, 24, came back from last place after the Grand Prix Final short program to earn bronze in December, then dethroned Gracie Gold for her third U.S. title in January before stumbling to 11th place in the Worlds short program and eliminating any medal hopes.

Edmunds, a 17-year-old who was the youngest U.S. competitor across all sports in Sochi, was fortunate to make Worlds last season.

She was fourth and eighth in her two Grand Prix starts and then fourth at the U.S. Championships but made the three-woman team for Worlds in part because third-place Karen Chen was too young. Edmunds notched the biggest win of her senior career at February’s Four Continents Championships, an event that included zero Russians.

MORE FIGURE SKATING: Max Aaron ends U.S. drought at Skate America

START ORDER
Friday
Women’s short program
5:27 p.m. ET — Polina Edmunds
5:40 — Ashley Wagner
5:46 — Elizaveta Tuktamysheva

Men’s short program
8:18 — Patrick Chan
8:45 — Adam Rippon
8:58 — Nam Nguyen
9:11 — Yuzuru Hanyu