LAVAL, Que. – Keegan Messing gave a celebratory fist pump, smiled and waved to a standing crowd after he produced a personal best score to stand first in the men’s short program Friday at Skate Canada International.
The Sherwood Park, Alta., skater earned 95.05 points in an electrifying short program in which he landed a quad-triple combo, triple Axel and triple Lutz. Olympic silver medallist Shoma Uno of Japan is second at 88.87 and Junhwan Cha of South Korea third at 88.86.
“I’m very happy with the score it’s a great spot to be for the very first Grand Prix,” said Messing, eighth at the world championships and 12th at the Olympic Games last season. “It’s one step at a time right now and the focus is on skating and I’ll see where it takes me.”
Nam Nguyen of Toronto also delivered a clean skate. He is seventh at 82.22 while Roman Sadovsky of Vaughan, Ont., is 12th.
“It was so nice to put out that performance today for the home crowd,” said Nguyen, sixth last week at Skate America. “It was easy for me to stay in competition mode and do my job. The score is a little disappointing but this season is going to be interesting.”
Sadovsky is pushing the envelope in the early season.
“With two quads I have a difficult short this season and I thought I handled it pretty well,” he said. “I’m hoping I can keep that momentum for the long program.”
The pairs standing is close after the short program. Kirsten Moore-Towers of St. Catharines, Ont., and Michael Marinaro of Sarnia, Ont., produced a clean skate and are in third place with 71.26. Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres of France lead with 74.51 and Cheng Peng and Yang Jin of China are second at 72.00
“We felt really great,” said Moore-Towers. “We’ve been struggling with our short program this season so our main goal here was not to take ourselves out of the game early.”
Evelyn Walsh of London, Ont., and Trennt Michaud of Trenton, Ont., are sixth at 59.59 and Camille Ruest of Rimouski, Que., and Andrew Wolfe of Calgary are seventh at 57.53.
“The energy was amazing out there being on home ice,” said Walsh. “It really pushes you to go out there and skate well. I think we got a wake up call at Skate America last week and it’s what we needed to skate well here.”
Ruest and Wolfe were also pleased with their start.
“There were some technical mistakes but we came here to perform,” said Ruest. “It was a success for us.”
In the short dance, Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier of Toronto are the top Canadians in sixth place with 66.95 points. Carolane Soucisse of Chateauguay, Que., and Shane Firus of North Vancouver are ninth and Haley Sales of Burnaby, B.C., and Nikolas Wamsteeker of Vancouver are 10th.
Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue of the U.S. are first.
Gilles had a major slip when the couple came close to the boards about a minute into their routine.
“We both just got too close to the boards,” said Gilles. “We’re proud with how we got up and continued. Obviously, we weren’t expecting to be in this position. We need to just go back and focus on our abilities.”
Soucisse and Firus also had a fluky error when their feet entangled and Soucisse fell.
“It was a bit unfortunate with the footwork and we got caught in our laces,” said Firus. “For two-thirds of the program it felt really good.”
It was a Grand Prix debut for Sales and Wamsteeker.
“It was super exciting,” said Sales. “We had a lot of nerves building up to tonight. We were able to calm down and have a good time.”
In the women’s short program, Alaine Chartrand of Prescott, Ont., is eighth. She skated a clean program landing her triple Axel, a triple-triple combo and a triple loop for 60.47. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva of Russia is first at 74.22.
“I feel like I’m going in the right direction,” said Chartrand. “It was a huge difference with last week at Skate America. From the very first practice here, I’ve felt really solid.”
Alicia Pineault of Varennes, Que., competing at her first Grand Prix, is ninth at 59.02.
“I wanted to have as much fun as I could,” said Pineault. “I was surprised with how comfortable I felt on the ice with that big crowd.”
Competition ends Saturday.
Full results: ISU GP 2018 Skate Canada International