Nobunari Oda 1st to nail two quads
KINGSTON, Ontario -- There's a graceful ease to Cynthia Phaneuf's skating that comes with finally settling into her skin.
It was apparent to fans at the K-Rock Centre who cheered the Canadian through the final few beats of her swelling Spanish guitar music Friday en route to a first-place performance in the women's short program at Skate Canada.
The host country nearly topped both individual short programs but Nobunari Oda put together a flawless performance to edge Kevin Reynolds in the men's competition despite a historic routine by the Canadian.
The 20-year-old Reynolds, from Coquitlam, British Columbia, became the first man to execute two quads in a short program, landing a quad Salchow in a combination and a quad toe loop to score 80.09 points.
"I was absolutely thrilled when I landed that second quadruple jump," Reynolds said. "I had so many emotions running through my head, I was so happy."
Phaneuf, the top-ranked Canadian in the absence of Olympic bronze medalist Joannie Rochette, scored 58.24 points, then said she's perfectly comfortable carrying Canada's flag for the women.
"My job is the same [with or without Rochette], but for sure it's a pleasure for me to be the first Canadian and be proud to go out there and know I'm the top lady," Phaneuf said. "For me it's an honor to have that title and just do my job knowing I'm the one that has to lead."
Rochette, who skated her way onto the podium at the Vancouver Olympics days after her mother's death, is skipping the Grand Prix season as she contemplates her competitive future.
Ksenia Makarova of Russia, who lives in Newburgh, N.Y., was second in the short program with 57.90 points, while Agnes Zawadzki of Colorado Springs, Colo., was third with 56.29.
Reynolds took advantage of a new International Skating Union rule that allows skaters to have two quads in the short program.
Oda of Japan didn't have a quad but finished first with 81.37 points. Adam Rippon of the U.S. was third with 77.53.
Patrick Chan, a two-time world silver medalist, was fourth after a rocky performance. Chan fell on his quad toe loop attempt to open the program and lost focus from there, falling twice more -- on a triple Axel and his step sequence -- to score 73.20.
"I have no idea what happened," Chan said. "I think it was just a combination of everything, but I think right away when I missed the quad, even in practice I start doubting myself. The quad's a big jump and it's really important to me. It's just a lack of experience and now I understand how the other guys feel who do it in their program, but it's part of the learning process and I've got to work my way up."
Rippon was sporting a red welt the size of a quarter on his cheek and an ice pack on his shoulder after a spectacular crash with Chan in the morning practice. Chan was skating backward doing footwork and turned just in time to see Rippon but too late to avoid a collision, completely upending the American.
"That was definitely the most exciting collision, maybe not the most dangerous," Rippon said.
Rippon heard the gasp from the crowd and wondered for a split-second what the commotion was about before he felt the impact.
"I was thinking 'Oh boy, I can't wait to see what happened.' Two seconds later, smacked down on the ice and I had no idea what happened," Rippon said. "I hit my face a little bit and my shoulder, but I'm fine and I think it knocked some of the nerves out of me. It definitely didn't affect my performance today. And I think I look kind of cool with it too."
The 22-year-old Phaneuf skated a clean program Friday, nailing both triple jumps. Phaneuf at one time was Canada's top woman. She rocketed to the top at the Canadian championships when she was just 15, upsetting six-time champion Jennifer Robinson, and went on to win Skate Canada and finish second at Skate America.
But her fall was nearly as swift as her meteoric rise. Stress fractures to her ankle and hip kept her off skates for nearly a year. A growth spurt during that time saw her grow 4 inches.
After skating in the shadows of six-time Canadian champion Rochette, Phaneuf re-emerged as an international contender at the world championships in Turin in March, finishing fifth, 10 spots better than her previous best world finish.
"Everything is easier," said her coach Annie Barabe. "Two years ago everything was hard for her, coming back from where she was. Now we never talk about before, we talk ahead. Two years ago, we were like, 'OK, before I could do this, before I could do that.' Before is over. Now it's the future."
Russia's Lubov Iliushechkina and Nodari Maisuradze won the pairs short program with 60.72 points. Americans Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir were second with 56.34, while Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers of Canada were third with 56.14.
Siblings Sinead and John Kerr of Great Britain won the ice dance short program with 62.96 points. Canadians Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier were second with 62.95, and Pernelle Carron and Lloyd Jones of France were third with 54.43.
Skate Canada is the second of six stops on the ISU Grand Prix circuit.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press
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