Takahashi, Lysacek just .10 apart after short

Personal bests abound from generous judging panel

Daisuke Takahashi edged out Evan Lysacek for the men's short program win.
Daisuke Takahashi edged out Evan Lysacek for the men's short program win. (Getty Images)


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By Alexandra Stevenson, special to
(12/04/2009) - After a short program event of fine skating and extraordinarily high scores, Daisuke Takahashi leads Evan Lysacek by just a tenth of a point.

With all the top skaters executing the same jump elements -- triple, triple combination; triple Axel; and a triple flip or Lutz -- element levels and performance intangibles came into play.

Takahashi, the 2007 world silver medalist and former Japanese champion who missed last season with a leg injury, combined musicality and fine showmanship with solid jumps in an electric program to Tango music.

He earned 89.95 points, a new personal best.

"I didn't make any big mistakes but I made some minor ones, like getting behind the music in the step sequence and spins," Takahashi said.

"I couldn't control my movement [in the step sequence]. I feel that my lower body didn't move well today. Thanks to the support from the audience, I was able to get such good marks today. I was very nervous during the warm up since I hadn't skated with top skaters last season."

Lysacek, too, was in good form in an exciting yet controlled outing to Stravinsky's Firebird. He also set a new personal best with 89.85.

"I've been looking to break 85, so 89.85 is great," Lysacek, the reigning world champion, said. "I felt good. There's a lot of emotion in the building. There were huge scores before me, but I was relaxed.

"I did have a bobble on the death drop. It was a definitely a rut I hit on the ice. I should have ignored it and changed edge [as planned]."

Lysacek's coach, Frank Carroll, was delighted with the performance.

"He's very musical; no one's doing what he's doing out there," Carroll enthused.

Tomorrow, the two-time U.S. champion will show off a new look.

"I do have a new costume for the free. The previous one was a bit too revealing [with black chiffon]," Lysacek said. "I've never been an exhibitionist."

The event's top qualifier, Japanese champion Nobunari Oda, sits third with 87.65 points, yet another personal best.

"I skate last and there was a lot of pressure, but I am happy with the program," Oda said.

Three-time U.S. champion Johnny Weir is fourth after his inspired take on Raul DiBlasio's "I Love You, I Hate You" earned 84.60. It was -- you guessed it -- a new personal best.

"The crowd reaction was great and it's great not to be sick like I was at NHK," Weir said. "My training is going well and we'll build on that."

U.S. champion Jeremy Abbott hit his opening combination but faltered on his triple Axel. He sits fifth with 76.65 points.

"I got a little outside of the circle," Abbott said. "I was off axis in the air and then I had trouble catching my foot on the landing. It's like when you are sprinting and you trip and can't get your foot under you. I was very happy with the level of my performance, though."

Czech Tomas Verner opened his short with a spectacular quad toe, triple toe combination, but missed his other jumps and sits sixth and last going into the free skate.

Lynn Rutherford contributed to this story