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Chan jumps out to lead in mistake-filled short

Japanese trio lands second, third, fourth; Mura ahead of Takahashi

Canada's Patrick Chan came nowhere near his 101.33 nationals score, but he still leads the pack.
Canada's Patrick Chan came nowhere near his 101.33 nationals score, but he still leads the pack. (Getty Images)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(02/10/2012) - Patrick Chan is a step closer to his eighth straight victory after defeating Takahito Mura by 4.51 points in Thursday night's short program at the 2012 Four Continents Championships.

Yes, Canada's world champion made mistakes, but so did a lot of other people, including Daisuke Takahashi, who missed a golden opportunity to best his rival by electing to try a quad toe and falling on an under-rotated attempt. The Japanese champion is third, another 0.85 points behind his countryman Mura.

The U.S. trio of Ross Miner, Adam Rippon and Richard Dornbush sit sixth, seventh and 13th, respectively.

Regardless of the standings, Thursday night's outing of "Take Five" must rate as a relative disappointment to the 21-year-old Chan, whose year-round training in Colorado Springs' high altitude gave him a distinct advantage over his competitors. He nearly fell on his opening move, an intended quadruple toe loop-triple toe loop combination, before sailing through a triple Axel and improvising a triple Lutz-triple toe combination.

"It was a little funny. You would think I have the advantage here, but I actually feel like I'm in a foreign place," Chan said, explaining that the temperature of the World Arena ice was different than when he skated on it last week. "Six-minute warmup was a little shaky. I was having trouble finding my feet and staying grounded. I was getting really high in the shoulders and tight in the upper body; the jumps were poppy.

"Considering all that, the quad was good," he said. I was very happy I was able to gather myself. I've been really good at doing that this year. I saw this as another challenge and a test and I was able to get the best of it."

Chan earned 87.95 points, well off his season's best.

Mura is a surprising second by virtue of his opening quad toe-triple toe combination, the only clean, fully rotated quad of the night. He also landed a triple Axel and triple Lutz in his short to "Red Violin," and despite a bit of a trip on his circular steps earned 83.44 points, a new season's high.

"I am very, very surprised I am placed ahead of Daisuke," Mura said. "The content was the best of the season, and I hope to do better tomorrow.

"I was fifth at Japanese nationals and afterwards, I practiced hard and it showed here," he said. "I do feel sorry I'm not going to worlds but hopefully I will do better next year. I have the mindset for this competition to do better in the long program."

Like Chan, after Takahashi fell on his quad, Takahashi added a triple toe to the back of his triple Lutz and gained credit for a combination. The 2010 world champion also landed a triple Axel and gained Level 4 on his straight-line steps, although a camel combination spin rated just Level 2.

"I was not watching Patrick, so I didn't know he missed his quad," Takahashi said. "But my practices with the quad were quite good coming in to Colorado Springs, and going in to worlds, I thought it was important to try the quad here, whether Patrick landed it or not."

Miner, the U.S. bronze medalist, led the way for the U.S. team with a crisp and speedy outing of his Latin-themed short that featured clean jumps and three Level 4 spins. It earned 76.89 points.

"I'm really happy with it," the Boston-based skater said. "It's my new season's best, so it's a good start to the competition and I'm excited for tomorrow.

"I think it was obviously challenging to go from competition to competition back-to-back and so quickly, but I didn't really stop after nationals so it doesn't feel as bad. It's when you stop and get going again that it's a little harder. I'm excited that we got a good short out of the way. Now it's time to look forward to the long tomorrow."

Rippon's otherwise fine routine to the Russian folk song "Korobushka" was marred by an uncharacteristic fall on his signature element, the "Rippon" triple Lutz, done with both arms overhead. Still, he earned a season's best 74.92 points.

"The Lutz is such a silly mistake that I never make," he said. "I'd rather make it here at the Four Continents than at the World Championships.

"I'm coming in as the U.S. silver medalist and I really wanted to prove that my skating is strong to the rest of the world. [Despite] the fall on the Lutz, I still think I showed strong skating."

Dornbush, who placed 13th at the 2012 U.S. Figure Skating Championships after missing several jumps in his short, improved upon that outing here but still fell on his triple Axel and doubled an intended triple flip. The 2011 U.S. silver medalist, who was named to the team after U.S. champion Jeremy Abbott decided to rest a sore hip, enters the free skate with 61.34 points.

"It didn't go like I wanted it to, but I only had a week since nationals so I guess a 10-point [improvement] in a week isn't bad," Dornbush said.

"[The altitude] was pretty tough," he said. "I felt a little tired going into the flip, but at the end of the program I felt a little better. I had taken a couple of days off after nationals and I had just gotten back to it and then I got the call [to compete]. I got into the altitude training at the last moment."