SAINT JOHN, N.B. – Fourteen-year-old Stephen Gogolev of Toronto is in first place after the men’s short program at the at the 2019 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships.

Gogolev landed a quad Salchow-triple toe combo to open his routine and added a triple Lutz and triple Axel in his skate to the song Run Boy Run. He earned 88.77 points to put himself ahead of Olympian Keegan Messing of Sherwood Park, Alta., in second at 87.18 while Nam Nguyen of Toronto, the 2015 champion, is third at 85.73.

This past fall, Gogolev won two of his international junior events including the Junior Grand Prix Final in December in Vancouver. He turned 14 on December 22.

“I feel more confident and comfortable this year,” said Gogolev, 10th in his nationals senior level debut last winter. “Last year was the first time I was in front of a really big crowd so I got that experience.”

The other three short programs were also on Friday.

Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje of Waterloo, Ont., hold a slight lead after the rhythm dance. The world championship bronze medallists competed for the first time in four months and tabulated 85.19 points.

Not to be outdone, Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier of Toronto are a close second at 83.08 and Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sorensen of Montreal are third at 79.41.

Weaver and Poje were busy this past fall on the 28-stop cross country Thank You Canada Tour for Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.

“This week we’re here just to show ourselves, we’re having fun showing off, if you will,” Weaver said. “We’ve worked so hard, we have so much experience in front of audiences, and we’ve done our homework with the technical rules and now we get to let it loose with no worries.”

“This is a great start for us.”

In women’s competition, defending champion Gabrielle Daleman of Newmarket, Ont., leads after the short program with 70.18 points. Larkyn Austman of Vancouver follows at 64.53 and Véronik Maillet of Sept-Iles, Que., is third at 60.55.

This was a return to competition for Daleman, who delivered a clean skate to a selection from Bizet’s Carmen. She had announced publicly that she would miss the first half of the season to focus on her mental health.

Meanwhile Austman, who withdrew from two competitions this past fall due to injury, landed a double Axel en route to a clean skate as well.

“That was really amazing, I’m not super well known for doing great short programs,” said Austman, a 2018 Olympian. “This season has been a change for dialing in my technical content. It’s working and I’m excited about it.”

In pairs, Kirsten Moore-Moore Towers of St. Catharines, Ont., and Michael Marinaro of Sarnia, Ont., are first after the short program with 71.47. Evelyn Walsh of London, Ont., and Trennt Michaud of Trenton, Ont., follow at 65.20 and Camille Ruest of Rimouski Que., and Drew Wolfe of Calgary are third at 62.46.

Despite the clean program, the first place team was hoping for a more polished skate.

“Our goal here was to focus on the small points and unfortunately we did not do that,” said Marinaro. “So that was a little bit of a disappointment. We cannot be leaving those marks on the table in the future.”

All four free skates are on Saturday.

Full information: https://skatecanada.ca/2019-canadian-tire-national-skating-championships/