Gracie Gold wins short program

SAINT JOHN, New Brunswick -- American Gracie Gold won the women's short program Friday at Skate Canada.

Gold finished with 69.45 points in her first major competition with new coach Frank Carroll. The U.S. silver medalist split with Alex Ouriashev in August.

She said Carroll helped her focus after a poor practice session.

"I over-think things," Gold said. "My mind is constantly whirling at whatever I'm doing. It's not always good to have a lot of things going on in your head."

Gold was asked why she selected Carroll.

"He has almost a century of skating behind him and he knows the sport inside and out," she said. Carroll interrupted from the back of the room, shouting: "Half a century!"

Julia Lipnitskaia, a 15-year-old from Russia, was second at 66.89, and Japan's Akiko Suzuki followed at 65.76.

American Christina Gao was fourth at 62.82, and compatriot Courtney Hicks ninth and last at 50.70.

Later, Patrick Chan won the men's short program.

The Canadian star and three-time world champion scored 88.10 points, but tripled his quad toe loop attempt and couldn't hold the landing on his second triple toe loop.

"I didn't have technical goals. I didn't say, 'I want to land my quad, then my Axel, so I can come first,'" Chan said. "I wanted to go out and be excited to be there as opposed to dreading competing, which had become a bad habit of mine over the last two seasons. I was kind of dreading competing and never really enjoying competing, which is really weird as an elite athlete.

"I went into this event thinking, 'Hey, I'm lucky to be here, I'm lucky to be at the level I am, I've won three world championships, I've got nothing to prove, I'm out here to have a great time.'"

Japan's Nobunari Oda was second at 80.82, and teammate Yuzuru Hanyu followed at 80.40.

American Jeremy Abbott was fourth at 74.58, while Joshua Farris was eighth at 69.14, and Ross Miner was 10th and last at 66.71.

Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford took the pairs short program, performing to a song Radford wrote after the death of coach Paul Wirtz. Duhamel and Radford earned 69.57 points. Italy's Stefania Berton and Ondrej Hotarek were second at 69.38, and China's Sui Wenjing and Han Cong followed at 69.02.

The Canadians skated to "Tribute," which Radford, a pianist who studied at Toronto's Royal Conservatory of Music, wrote a day after Wirtz died of cancer in 2006.

Duhamel stumbled out of her triple Lutz and put a hand down on the throw triple Lutz.

"Last year we came to this event, skated a clean short, and got 64, so this shows everything that we've been working towards and improving," Duhamel said. "We started with 64 last season and ended with a 73 at worlds, so this is exactly where we want to be. We want to hit those high 70s as we go into nationals and as we go into the Olympics. I think that it's a good step."

In ice dance, Canada's Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir topped the short program in their likely Skate Canada finale, scoring 73.15 for their foxtrot and quickstep to music by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.

"It was emotional," Moir said. "We talk about this. It's about enjoying the journey, enjoying the process, and we're at great moments in our careers right now. We're healthy, we're strong, we still think we're young -- maybe the rest of the skating world doesn't -- but it's a beautiful thing and we're really enjoying it."

Canada's Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje followed at 70.35, and Americans Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue were third at 60.92.

Skate Canada is the second of six stops on figure skating's Grand Prix circuit. The top six in each discipline will qualify for the Grand Prix Final on Dec. 5-8 in Fukuoka, Japan.

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