|Tarrah Harvey and Keith Gagnon, of Canada, perform in the ice short dance competition during the Skate Canada International figure skating competition Friday, Oct. 28, 2011 in Mississauga, Ontario. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson)|
14-year-old Russian leads women's short
MISSISSAUGA, Ontario—At 14, Elizaveta Tuktamisheva is already turning heads.
The Russian teenager earned 59.57 points for her short program Friday to take a big lead in women's singles at Skate Canada International.
She's so good that Alexei Mishin, the veteran Russian coach helping guide Tuktamisheva, calls her "the main hope for the gold medal at the Sochi Olympics" in 2014.
Tuktamisheva won't meet the International Skating Union age requirement to compete in a senior worlds until 2013. But she certainly appears ready to take full advantage of the green light the ISU gave her to enter senior Grand Prix meets this season.
Tuktamisheva, the 2011 world junior silver medalist, was the only skater to cleanly land a triple-triple combo. She needs to improve her spins, but she clearly has huge potential.
Americans Ashley Wagner (54.50 points) and Rachael Flatt (54.23) followed.
"I was very satisfied with that program," said Wagner, 20, who was sixth at the 2011 U.S. nationals. "It was solid. I stood up on everything, which was my main goal. I would have preferred that the lutz had not been such a death-defying act on the ice, but I stood up and that's really all that counts in the long run.
"I think it's a great start to my Grand Prix season and, hopefully, it's only up from here."
The 19-year-old Flatt, a silver medalist at her nationals last winter, was 12th at the world championships.
"I haven't started out this well at a Grand Prix in a while," she said. "I'm very pleased."
In the men's program, world champion Patrick Chan of Canada was third after the men's short program, behind Javier Fernandez of Spain and Daisuke Takahashi of Japan.
Fernandez has 84.71 points, Takahashi has 84.66 and Chan has 83.28, meaning the gold medal is up for grabs going into the Saturday free skate.
"It's a great position to be in," Chan said. "It's better than I did at Skate Canada last year. I didn't fall three times this time."
Chan landed a quad toe loop jump but a sloppy landing with a hand on the ice led him to omit his combo's scheduled triple toe loop. He then reduced his triple Axel to a double. He then added a triple toe to his triple Lutz to score the required combo.
In pairs, world silver medalists and Russian champions Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov earned 70.42 points to outdistance their closest rivals in the short program: Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada. They were elated to be second.
Duhamel teamed with Radford after previous partner Craig Buntin retired in 2010.
"That was our first clean short program as a pairs team and, regardless of the levels and the points, that was our goal, so mission accomplished," Duhamel said.
Canadians held the first two spots in dance, with Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir leading with 71.61 points, and Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje second with 63.31.
Italy's Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte were third with 61.92 points.