Stephen Carriere

Takahito Mura

Takahito Mura wins Skate Canada; Grand Prix analysis

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Japanese men are the class of the early Grand Prix season, and Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu hasn’t even skated yet.

Takahito Mura won Skate Canada, coming from behind after the short program to top Spain’s Javier Fernandez in Kelowna, British Columbia, on Saturday.

Mura, who didn’t make Japan’s Sochi Olympic team, prevailed one week after Tatsuki Machida romped at Skate America in the Grand Prix season opener.

On Saturday, Mura landed two quadruple jumps in his clean, personal-best free skate.

Fernandez, the World Championships bronze medalist, led after the short program Friday and took second overall, falling on one quad, putting his hand down on another and stepping out of a third. He is coached by two-time Canadian Olympic silver medalist Brian Orser.

Max Aaron, the 2013 U.S. champion, moved ahead of countryman Stephen Carriere for third place.

Japanese men have won the last four Grand Prix events dating to last season, including Hanyu’s win at the Grand Prix Final and Machida at last year’s Rostelecom Cup. This is the first time skaters from one nation won the first two Grand Prix events since 1999, when Russia’s Alexei Yagudin won both Skate America and Skate Canada. Yagudin won Skate America in 1998, followed by countryman Yevgeny Plushenko at Skate Canada.

It’s the first time U.S. men have won medals at the first two Grand Prix events since 2010 (Jason Brown won silver at Skate America last week). U.S. men won medals at every Grand Prix event in 2010, except the Grand Prix Final.

The Grand Prix series continues at Cup of China next week.

NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra will air Skate Canada coverage Sunday from 1-2:30 p.m. ET.

Skate Canada men’s results
1. Takahito Mura (JPN) — 255.81
2. Javier Fernandez (ESP) — 244.87
3. Max Aaron (USA) — 231.77
4. Stephen Carriere (USA) — 231.67
10. Adam Rippon (USA) — 201.92

Leaders in Grand Prix season
1. Tatsuki Machida (JPN) — 269.09 (Skate America)
2. Takahito Mura (JPN) — 255.81 (Skate Canada)
3. Javier Fernandez (ESP) — 244.87 (Skate Canada)
4. Jason Brown (USA) — 234.17 (Skate America)
5. Nam Nguyen (CAN) — 232.24 (Skate America)
Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu to debut at Cup of China next week. Olympic silver medalist Patrick Chan not competing in Grand Prixs.

U.S. men’s leaders in Grand Prix season
1. Jason Brown — 234.17 (Skate America)
2. Max Aaron — 231.77 (Skate Canada)
3. Stephen Carriere — 231.67 (Skate Canada)
4. Jeremy Abbott — 219.33 (Skate America)
5. Douglas Razzano — 204.48 (Skate America)
6. Adam Rippon — 201.92 (Skate Canada)
Richard Dornbush to debut at Cup of China next week. Josh Farris pulled out of Cup of China.

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Javier Fernandez leads at Skate Canada; surprise American scores

Javier Fernandez
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Spain’s Javier Fernandez topped the Skate Canada short program despite doubling a planned triple Axel in Kelowna, British Columbia, on Friday.

The top American was a surprise. Stephen Carriere, who was 10th at the U.S. Championships in January, was fourth behind Fernandez on Friday. Carriere beat 2013 U.S. champion Max Aaron and two-time World Championships team member Adam Rippon.

Fernandez, the two-time reigning World bronze medalist, is the most accomplished man in recent season in the Skate Canada field. He scored 86.36 points with a quad Salchow, triple Lutz-triple toe combination and the double Axel.

Japan’s Takahito Mura (82.57) and Russia’s Konstantin Menshov (81.70) were in second and third.

The men’s free skate is Saturday at 2 p.m. ET.

In Sochi, Fernandez missed winning Spain’s third-ever Winter Olympic medal by 1.18 points, falling behind Kazakh Denis Ten in the free skate after placing third in the short program.

Fernandez’s score Friday night was 7.03 points fewer than Japan’s Tatsuki Machida last week at Skate America, the first Grand Prix event of the season. Olympic and World champion Yuzuru Hanyu, also from Japan, hasn’t skated yet this season.

NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra will air Skate Canada coverage Sunday from 1-2:30 p.m. ET.

Skate Canada men’s short program
1. Javier Fernandez (ESP) 86.36
2. Takahito Mura (JPN) 82.57
3. Konstantin Menshov (RUS) 81.70
4. Stephen Carriere (USA) 80.33
5. Max Aaron (USA) 76.50
11. Adam Rippon (USA) 62.83

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