Patrick Chan betters own record
PARIS -- Patrick Chan likes the idea of breaking world records. He did it again Friday, and would love nothing more than to shatter it once more in February. At the Olympics.
The three-time world champion from Canada improved his own world record in the men's short program to take the lead at the Trophee Bompard.
Chan began with a perfectly executed quad toe loop-triple toe loop jump. He then nailed a triple axel and a triple lutz before rounding out his program with a lightning-fast step sequence to score 98.52 points. That bettered his mark of 98.37 set at the worlds in March.
"I was ecstatic at the way I skated," Chan said. "I didn't even know I broke the record. If I can make a world record at the Olympics it would be amazing. I'm looking at the Olympics, so I'm really focused on that. A world record is a nice thing to say and a nice thing to have."
American Ashley Wagner made a good start to her title defense by taking a commanding lead in the short program.
Wagner, who finished second at Skate America, had a score of 66.75 points. She is ahead of two Russians -- 15-year-old Anna Pogorilaya and Adelina Sotnikova. Pogorilaya, who landed seven triple jumps in her free skate to win the Cup of China this month, was at 60.03, with Sotnikova at 60.01.
The 22-year-old Chan was at his graceful best to the sounds of Rachmaninov's "Elegie in E flat" and looks set to win the Paris Grand Prix event for the fourth time.
"It was nice to be in a big space, because that's where I can really flow and push," said Chan, who won Skate Canada last month. "I didn't feel perfect in the air on a lot of the jumps, but that's where training comes into play where you don't have the best air position or jump, but automatic pilot kicks in."
Chan's performance inspired Japanese skater Yuzuru Hanyu, who followed Chan onto the ice and got the crowd going with an energetic performance to move into second place with 95.37 points.
"I still have something to improve, like steps and spins," Hanyu said through an interpreter.
American Jason Brown was in third place with 84.77 points heading into Saturday's free skate.
"To be at the same event as these guys is amazing," the 18-year-old Brown said. "I hope that this is just the beginning for the rest of my career."
Earlier, Olympic runners-up Pang Qing and Tong Jian took the lead in pairs after the short program ahead of world bronze medalists Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford. The Chinese pair scored 67.69 points, with Duhamel and Radford at 66.07.
"We've never won this event and this is our last season, so it will be our last chance," the 34-year-old Tong said through a translator.
The Canadians were among the favorites, but Duhamel landed heavily early on when attempting a triple lutz. They led after the short program at Skate Canada but slipped from first to third after a flawed free skate.
"We felt that we skated the program better than we did at Skate Canada," Duhamel said. "Obviously there's a big mistake and that's three years in a row where we find ourselves second after the short program, so I guess that's our place."
Russians Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov were in third place with 65.67.
Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada took a commanding lead in the ice dance after posting 75.31 points in the short program. They won Skate Canada and are heavy favorites, with Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White are not participating.
"Tessa and I are very happy with our skate today," Moir said. "We made a lot of changes and it felt like we executed them well."
Cup of China winners Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat of France were next with 70.59 points, with European runners-up Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov of Russia in third with 69.07.
The Cup of Russia next week in Moscow will be the last chance for skaters to qualify for the GP Final, which features the top six skaters in each category.