Virtue, Moir ‘on track’ in fi­nal Olympic tune-up

Vancouver Sun - - SPORTS - The Cana­dian Press with files from The As­so­ci­ated Press

Cana­dian ice dancers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir were in sec­ond place af­ter Thurs­day’s short dance at the ISU Grand Prix Fi­nal, the last ma­jor in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion be­fore the Pyeong Chang Olympics.

The world cham­pi­ons sat be­hind Gabriella Pa­padakis and Guil­laume Cize­ron of France, who recorded 82.07 points.

Virtue and Moir, un­de­feated since re­turn­ing to com­pe­ti­tion last sea­son, col­lected 81.53 points while Maia Shibu­tani and Alex Shibu­tani of the U.S. were third with 78.09.

“The plan is to peak in Fe­bru­ary (at the Olympics) and we’re on track,” said Virtue, a Lon­don, Ont., na­tive. “Our per­for­mance was a step up from what we did this sea­son on the Grand Prix cir­cuit.”

The vet­eran Cana­dian skaters weren’t con­cerned about be­ing in sec­ond spot.

“Hope­fully, we can have an­other great skate Satur­day and build our con­fi­dence for the Olympics,” said Moir, from Ilder­ton, Ont.

In pairs, two-time Cana­dian world cham­pi­ons Meagan Duhamel and Eric Rad­ford were fifth af­ter the short pro­gram at 72.18 in a com­pe­ti­tion that’s too tight to call head­ing into Satur­day’s free skate.

“Hav­ing those lit­tle bob­bles can de­tract a bit and that af­fected our sec­ond mark,” said Balmer­town, Ont., na­tive Rad­ford.

The pair made a mistake on their side-by-side triple Lutz and throw triple Lutz.

“The throw was a lit­tle bit stuck on take­off, which re­sulted in not the same flow when I came out,” said Duhamel, from Sud­bury, Ont. “Still, we were com­mit­ted to our per­for­mance, and we felt pretty good about it.”

Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Mas­sot of Ger­many are first af­ter the short pro­gram with 79.43 points. De­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Ev­ge­nia Tarasova and Vladimir Moro­zov of Rus­sia fol­low at 78.83 and world cham­pi­ons Wen­jing Sui and Cong Han of China are third at 75.82.

On the men’s side, Amer­i­can Nathan Chen seized the lead af­ter the short pro­gram.

Skat­ing to Neme­sis, he opened with a quad Lutz, triple toe loop com­bi­na­tion and added a quad flip and a triple Axel for 103.32 points.

“I made a cou­ple of mis­takes on the land­ing of both quads,” Chen said.

“But the triple Axel was im­proved from Skate Amer­ica, so I’m happy with that and look­ing for­ward to to­mor­row.”

Ja­panese skater Shoma Uno fell on the land­ing of a triple Axel and was sec­ond with 101.51 points, fol­lowed by Mikhail Kolyada of Rus­sia with 99.22.

“I made a mistake with the triple Axel, which was un­ex­pected,” Uno said.

“But I’m con­fi­dent I’ll be able to land it cleanly the next time I at­tempt it.”

With two months to go be­fore the Pyeong Chang Games, Chen said he’s pleased with the progress he has made this sea­son.

“I’ve had to push the tech­ni­cal el­e­ments,” Chen said.

“Some­times it has worked, some­times it hasn’t. But I def­i­nitely don’t re­gret try­ing. Putting the flip in the sec­ond part of my short pro­gram has worked for me so far.”

Olympic cham­pion Yuzuru Hanyu of Ja­pan is still re­cov­er­ing from a leg in­jury sus­tained dur­ing prac­tice at last month’s NHK Tro­phy and is not com­pet­ing

The ladies’ event, which be­gins Fri­day, won’t in­clude two-time world cham­pion Ev­ge­nia Medvedeva of Rus­sia, who will miss the Grand Prix Fi­nal be­cause of a bro­ken foot.

Among the medal favourites is three-time Cana­dian cham­pion Kaet­lyn Os­mond of Marys­town, N.L., who was the sil­ver medal­list at last year’s world cham­pi­onships be­hind Medvedeva.

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue per­form their short dance on Thurs­day at the ISU Grand Prix Fi­nal in Nagoya, Ja­pan. The world champs from Canada are sec­ond headed into Satur­day’s free dance.

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