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Late bloomer Menshov leads after short at NRW

Brezina second; Surprising, young Korean sits third

Konstatin Menshov is enjoying a late-career renaissance.
Konstatin Menshov is enjoying a late-career renaissance. (Getty Images)

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By Klaus-Reinhold Kany, special to icenetwork.com
(12/09/2012) - Russia's Konstantin Menshov landed a quadruple toe loop-triple toe loop in his short program at the NRW Trophy in Dortmund, Germany, stepping out to a nine-point lead over the field.

Skating to music from Pina, the same soundtrack four-time world pairs champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy used for last season's free skate, the 29-year-old from St. Petersburg also landed a triple Axel and triple Lutz, and executed two Level 4 spins and a Level 4 step sequence. He earned 79.33 points.

For years, Menshov competed in the shadow of the year-older Evgeni Plushenko and other prominent Russians. Now, he is coming into his own, with solid skates at his two Grand Prix events this fall.

Czech Michal Brezina sits second with 70.29 points after doubling a planned quad Salchow and reducing an intended triple flip-triple toe to a triple-single. His triple Axel and other elements were solid.

At the end of his program, set to a modern version of Edvard Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King," Brezina shook his head as if to say he could not understand what had happened. Yet, his practices in Dortmund have also been inconsistent, and since moving to Hackensack, N.J., to train under Viktor Petrenko, his results have been mediocre, with a sixth-place finish at Skate America and bronze medal at the Rostelecom Cup.

In a surprise, South Korean skater Jin Seo Kim, who is not related to Yu-Na Kim, skated a clean short, landing a high triple Axel and triple toe-triple toe in his flamenco program to earn 69.65 points. The NRW Trophy is the 16-year-old's senior debut; he placed third and fourth at his two Junior Grand Prix events this fall.

German Peter Liebers opened his short to the soundtrack from Alexander with a shaky quad toe loop, the first time he tried the jump in a competitive short. He then stepped out of his triple Axel and executed a triple flip-double toe instead of a triple-triple.

Chafik Besseghier of France is in fifth place with 67.63 points. He started with a clean quad toe-double toe combination, followed by a good triple Axel, but his program components scores were not as high as those of the top men. With France having three spots at the 2013 World Figure Skating Championships in Canada, he has an excellent chance to make the French team alongside Brian Joubert and Florent Amodio.