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Favorites take early leads at Finlandia Trophy

Takahashi, Kerrs top leaderboards on Day 1

Daisuke Takahashi leads the rest of the men's field by over 13 points after the short program.
Daisuke Takahashi leads the rest of the men's field by over 13 points after the short program. (Getty Images)

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By Tatiana Flade, special to icenetwork.com
(10/09/2009) - The favorites took the lead at the first day of Finlandia Trophy in Vantaa, near Helsinki, on Friday. Daisuke Takahashi of Japan grabbed the men's short ahead of Stephen Carriere of the United States and Russia's Sergei Voronov.

The Japanese skater hadn't competed in more than a year following a severe knee injury sustained last season, but he looked solid. Performing to a tango-style accordion piece titled "Eye," he nailed a triple flip-triple toe loop combination, a triple Axel and a triple Lutz and showed strong spins, earning a Level 3 for the combination and a Level 4 for the change-foot sit spin. The step sequences were a Level 2. However, when the 2007 world silver medalist finished his last spin and wanted to turn around to face the judges, he stumbled and fell.

Takahashi still leads by a wide margin, scoring 83.23 points.

"I was so nervous, but I wanted to enjoy [the competition]," Takahashi said. "It was not perfect, but ok. I regret the fall. I think I was tired. I will be nervous tomorrow, because I will skate my free program, "La Strada," for the first time, and obviously, it's longer than the short."

Carriere produced a triple Axel, triple Lutz-triple toe loop and a triple flip in his routine to "Carmina Burana" to receive 70.22 points. Like Takahashi, the American was awarded a Level 2, 3 and 4 for his spins and a Level 2 for the footwork.

"It was shaky, kind of cautious, but you've got to start somewhere", the 2007 world junior champion commented. "Like Daisuke, I have to get used to that competition feeling again. Not going to worlds and Four Continents last year was not fun. Coming here is kind of a start of the season getting used to everything, and we have still a lot of work to do."

Voronov risked a quad toe in his program to Frederic Chopin's "Revolution Etude," he landed it but then just added a single toe for the combination. The Russian champion went on to complete a triple Axel, triple flip and difficult spins that were graded Level 3 and 4. Voronov picked up 68.50 points for his efforts.

"Compared to what I did in practice, this was already better today, and hopefully it will be even better tomorrow. Overall, I'm not so happy with my skating today. I made a few errors, and I was lacking speed," he explained. Voronov was the only man tonight to go for a quad.

Kristoffer Berntsson of Sweden is currently standing in fourth place at 66.87 points. He landed a triple Axel, triple Lutz-triple toe combination and only two-footed the triple flip in his interesting routine to "Conan the Barbarian." The second entry from the U.S., Alexander Johnson, fell on his opening triple Axel and stepped out of the back end of his triple flip-triple toeloop combination. Both the Axel and the toe were downgraded. Johnson pulled off a triple Lutz and Level 3 step sequence and is currently ranked 11th. He earned 54.94 points.

Great Britain's Sinead Kerr and John Kerr have a solid lead after the Golden Waltz compulsory dance. The brother-and-sister team scored 34.11 points for their performance of that difficult dance. Alla Beknazarova and Vladimir Zuev of the Ukraine and Russia's Anastasia Platonova and Alexander Grachev are almost tied at 30.84 and 30.63 points respectively in second and third place. Jane Summersett and Todd Gilles of the U.S. came in fourth at 28.81 points.

"Finland was a really lucky place for us last season. We started off here and also got the bronze medal at Europeans here in Finland too," Sinead Kerr said. "For us it's really great to come back and do this event. It's also very close to the Trophee Bompard for us, and it's a good run-through of all our routines before we're going to Paris," she continued.

"It went pretty good," her brother added, referring to their performance of the Waltz. "You always want to try and to improve on it. There is always so much you can improve on; there are so many steps in it. In general, this dance for everybody will score less than the Tango Romantica will, just because it's a more difficult dance. We did a good job today, and we will analyze it with Evgeni [Platov] and see what we can improve on for next week."