Canada’s Elladj Baldé wins gold at international figure skating competition

OBERTSDORF, Germany –  Elladj Baldé of Pierrefonds, Que., won the gold medal in men’s singles on Friday at the Nebelhorn Trophy, the traditional season opening event at the senior level in international figure skating.

Baldé tabulated a personal best 242.36 points landing quad jumps and producing clean performances in both the short and long programs.  Max Aaron of the U.S. was second at 222.94 and Konstantin Menshov of Russia was third at 218.14.

“I’ve trained hard for this and I knew I had the ability to deliver these kinds of programs,’’ said Baldé. ‘’And to beat my personal best by 30 points is simply amazing.  It’s great to have a number now that shows what I’m really capable of.  What also stands out for me that we found a way to make this happen. That’s good for the long term.   And there is still room for improvement.’’

It was Baldé’s first international victory.

“It was a great feeling to hear my anthem and I want to feel that again. I was hoping it would one day happen to me and I’m extremely grateful.’’

The other final on Friday was in pairs. World junior silver medallists Julianne Séguin of Longueuil, Que., and Charlie Bilodeau of Trois-Pistoles, Que., were fifth. Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov of Russia took the gold.

“It wasn’t the performance we wanted,’’ said Séguin.  ‘’But we learned from it and will come out stronger and move forward.’’

Canada is looking strong in women’s competition after the short program.  Kaetlyn Osmond of Marystown, N.L., who missed all of last season due to injury, leads with 59.67 and Alaine Chartrand of Prescott, Ont., is second at 58.73. Courtney Hicks of the U.S. is third at 57.65.

Osmond, who broke her leg in September 2014, fell on her first combination early in the skate but finished strong.

“I’m just happy to be back,’’ said Osmond. ‘’After I landed my first jump, the only thing that went through my head was that I didn’t want to lose any more points and that’s what happened.’’

Chartrand’s short was mistake-free.

“It’s very satisfying to put down a clean program so early in the season,’’ said Chartrand.

Also in the medal hunt are Alexandra Paul of Midhurst, Ont., and Mitchell Islam of Barrie, Ont.,  second after the short dance with 60.52.  Madison Chock and Evan Bates of the U.S. lead at 67.74. Lauren Collins of Minesing, Ont., and Shane Firus of North Vancouver are seventh.

Competition ends Saturday with the free dance and women’s free skate.

Full results:

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