Kelowna / Canada

Skate Canada International opened Friday in Kelowna, BC, with the Men’s and Pairs Short Program, the Short Dance and Ladies Short Program. Skate Canada International is the second of six events of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating 2014/2015. The world's top figure skaters are competing for points towards the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final and a prize money of US $ 180,000 per individual event of the Grand Prix.

Javier Fernandez (ESP) leads after Men’s Short Program

Javier Fernandez of Spain took the lead in the Men’s Short Program. Japan’s Takahito Mura sits in second, followed by Konstantin Menshov of Russia.

Fernandez opened his rock program to “Black Betty” with a quadruple Salchow and followed up with a triple Lutz-triple toe combination, but he reduced his Axel to a double. The European Champion picked up a level four for the combination spin and scored 86.36 points. “It was the first time that I performed “Black Betty” in competition and I did a good job. I didn’t do the triple Axel and had a little trouble with the spins, but in general it was a good program with good energy”, the Spaniard noted.

Mura’s routine to “Carmen” featured a quadruple toeloop, triple Axel and level-four footwork, but he stepped out of the triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination. The 2014 Four Continents Champion earned a seasons best of 82.57 points. “The quad was good, but stepped out of my combination jump, so there is a little regret. But I had a lot of fun skating the program”, Mura said.

Skating to “Rotten Romance”, Menshov hit a quadruple-triple toeloop combination and a quadruple Salchow. However, the European bronze medalist stumbled on a double Axel. He posted a seasons best score of 81.70 points. “The only thing I didn’t do was the triple Axel, but I am very pleased to have landed the two quads. Maybe I relaxed too much and did not enough focus on the triple Axel”, the Russian skater shared.

Stephen Carriere (USA) came fourth with 80.33 points followed by teammate Max Aaron (76.50 points) and Takahiko Kozuka (JPN) with 75.85 points.

Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford win Pairs Short Program

Canadians Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford won the Pairs Short Program in front of an enthusiastic home crowd. Wenjing Sui/Cong Han of China finished second, ahead of Russia’s Evgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov.

Duhamel/Radford produced a triple twist, side by side triple Lutz, throw triple Lutz as well as four level-four elements in their program to “Un peu plus haut”. The World bronze medalists collected 72.70 points for this performance, a new seasons best. “Our goal today was to get off the ice and be happy, regardless of what score we’re going to get or what place we’re going to come. It felt great to skate with freedom and really skate from our heart and really let ourselves go, the way we do in practice. In the past we’ve always struggled a bit to bring that to competition and it felt really amazing to do that today”, Duhmal told the post-event press conference.

Skating to “Stray Cat Strut”, Sui/Han landed a triple toeloop, throw triple flip and triple twist to score 65.22 points. “We skated really well today, but since this is our first competition, we were a bit nervous. The audience was very supportive and the atmosphere was great”, Han commented.

Tarasova/Morozov’s program to “Sarabande Suite” by Globus featured a level-four triple twist, a set of triple toes and a throw triple loop. The World Junior silver medalists earned 64.14 points. “We are pleased with our performance, we felt good out there and skated with emotions”, Morozov said.

Madeline Aaron/Max Settlage (USA) placed fourth at 57.20 points. Vanessa James/Morgan Cipres (FRA) are currently ranked fifth (56.47 points).

Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje take Short Dance

Canada’s Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje danced to the lead in the Short Dance. Ksenia Monko/ Kirill Khaliavin of Russia edged out Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue (USA) for second place by less than one point.

Weaver/Poje’s Paso Doble “La virgin de la Macarena” was highlighted by fast twizzles and precise footwork. The World silver medalists picked up a level four for the twizzles and the partial step sequence and a level three for the side by side footwork, the Paso Doble sequence and the rotational lift to score 68.61 points. “Andrew and I were very excited to debut on the Grand Prix circuit our Paso Doble today. We were a little bit nervous, however, we were able to draw so much energy from the amazing crowd here in Kelowna and we felt right at home”, Weaver said.

Monko/Khaliavin had chosen two Flamenco pieces and “Espana Cani” for their Paso Doble. The 2011 World Junior Champions earned a level four for the rotational lift and a level three for the other elements. The Muscovites received 59.62 points. “We really liked our performance, it was one of the best. Basically we did everything we wanted to do and we hope to skate at the same level tomorrow”, Khaliavin commented.

Dancing to “Fiesta Flamenca” and “Espana Cani”, Hubbell/Donohue delivered a solid performance that included level-four twizzles and a level-three lift and footwork. The 2014 Four Continents Champions earned 59.29 points for this program. “Zach and I were just were excited to skate in competition again. It was a very challenging off season for us. We’ve been doing our best to get prepared. It wasn’t necessarily the performance we were hoping for, but we managed to skate well enough to still be in contention for the podium”, Hubbell explained.

Piper Gilles/Paul Poirier (CAN) are ranked fourth at 57.35 points and Alexandra Aldridge/Daniel Eaton (USA) finished fifth (56.13 points).

Anna Pogorilaya (RUS) captures Ladies Short Program

Anna Pogorilaya of Russia captured the Ladies Short Program with Ashley Wagner (USA) finishing second and teammate Alena Leonova coming third.

Pogorilaya nailed a triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination and triple loop and produced two level-four spins and a level-four step sequence in her program to “Adagio” by Il Divo. However, the double Axel was wobbly. The Muscovite scored 65.28 points. “I am obviously happy to be in first place now, but I am not too pleased with my performance. I would have interpreted the music better and it could have been technically stronger”, the 16-year-old pointed out.

Wagner’s routine to “Spartacus” featured a double Axel and level-four spins and footwork, but the triple flip-triple toe and the triple loop were underrotated. The ISU Grand Prix Final bronze medalist has 63.86 points.”I am extremely pleased with tonight’s performance, considering that my first competition of this season was horrifying. It could have been stronger technically, but it’s early in the season and I’m really trying to teach myself to compete relaxed and not worry about what is going on around me”, the two-time U.S. Champion said.

Leonova opened her “Charlie Chaplin” program with a triple toe-triple toe combination and landed a triple flip and double Axel, but the layback spin merited only the base level. The 2012 World silver medalist earned 62.54 points. “I am happy with my programs except for my spins. I lost about five points on my spins and this is very sad, because I did the jumps well. I am not happy that I could not finish the layback spin on time. But I am happy with how I performed the program emotionally”, the skater from St. Petersburg noted.

Satoko Miyahara (JPN) is sitting in fourth place at 60.22 points followed by Rika Hongo (JPN, 59.10 points). Veronik Mallet (CAN) rounds up the top six (57.45 points).

For full entry lists and results of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating 2014/15 please refer to Skate Canada International continues Saturday with the Men’s, Pair, Ladies Free Skating and the Free Dance.