Canadians blast out of the gates at Skate Canada International

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. – Patrick Chan, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir as well as Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford are all in first place after their respective short programs Friday at Skate Canada International.

Duhamel and Radford earned 78.39 points with China’s Xiaoyu Yu and Hao Zhang of China in second at 69.43. Lubov Ilyushechkina and Dylan Moscovitch of Toronto are third at 67.53.

The two-time world champions were most excited about landing their new throw triple Axel.

‘’Landing the throw triple Axel is a huge confidence boost,’’ said Radford. ‘’We had to prove to ourselves that we were capable of doing it. It’s a nice reassuring feeling and we know we can do it even better.’’

The pair paid tribute to the Hershey Centre venue. They executed their first clean short program on the same ice in 2011.

‘’We’ve had some of the most amazing memories in our career here,’’ said Duhamel. ‘’It’s a special rink, we love it. The crowd was unbelievable right from the second we stepped on the ice for the warm-up.’’

Brittany Jones and Joshua Reagan of Toronto are seventh.

In ice dancing, Virtue and Moir are in first place after the short dance. They almost equalled their personal best score with 77.23 just off the 77.72 they skated in their comeback a couple of weeks ago at the Autumn Classic in Montreal.

‘’This is the start of our journey towards the 2018 Olympics,’’ said Moir, from Ilderton, Ont. ‘’We were really thrilled with our skate. We left some points on the table level wise which we’ll look to improve. For the end of October we are very pleased.’’

Madison Chock and Evan Bates of the U.S. are second at 76.21 and Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier of Toronto third at 72.12. Alexandra Paul of Midhurst, Ont., and Mitchell Islam of Barrie, Ont., are eighth.

In the men’s short, Chan compiled 90.56 points to stand first. Takahito Mura of Japan is second at 81.24 and Kevin Reynolds of Coquitlam. B.C., stands third at 80.57 ahead of Olympic champ Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan. Liam Firus of North Vancouver is 10th.

‘’I was committed to staying tight in the air and saving the landings,’’ said Chan. ‘’Landing that quad triple gave me a ton of energy going into the triple Axel. The rest of the program I was really pleased with, especially the footwork.’’

In the women’s short program, Kaetlyn Osmond of Marystown, N.L., set a personal best 74.33 to stand in second place. Only world champion Evgenia Medvedeva of Russia beat the Canadian earning 76.24. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva of Russia is third at 66.69.

‘’It was a long time coming to finally do a short program like that,’’ said Osmond, whose previous best was set in 2013. ‘’It feels so good to finally get a personal best again and skate great again. I’ve been working towards it for so many years.’’

Canadian champion Alaine Chartrand of Prescott, Ont., is sixth but still in the medal hunt at 62.15. Only six points separate seventh from third.

All four free skates are on Saturday.

Full results: 2016 Skate Canada International

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