What a field there is here, even with the absence of World Champion Patrick Chan. And what a set of results after the short program!
Yuzuru Hanyu, who has set two world record scores in the short program this year, leads the way but completed only a single Lutz-triple toe loop combination. Since the rules prescribe that the combination must include, at the very minimum, a triple and double jump, Hanyu received a -3 GOE for the element. I adore the difficult entry into the triple Axel and I also enjoy the program as a whole, but Hanyu looked tight and more nervous than usual here.
Han Yan is a surprising 2nd place after the short program. He had a poor Junior Grand Prix showing earlier this season, not even qualifying for the Final even though he came in as the reigning World Junior Champion. He has gorgeous flow into and out of his jumps, which included a triple Axel, quadruple toe loop, and triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination. While his presentation is still reserved, his choreography and overall skating quality is very good. It will be interesting to see what the Chinese Federation does regarding Worlds if Yan remains ahead of teammate Nan Song (currently in 5th place), as they have seemed determined to keep Yan in the junior ranks up to this point.
Richard Dornbush finds himself in a surprising 3rd place, and if he keeps his position as the top American skater here, he might raise yet another question about whether the National Championship should be the sole factor (in most cases) towards naming World Championship teams. While he was just 6th in the United States, he holds a 9-point lead over National silver medalist Ross Miner and is ahead of National Champion Max Aaron by over 10 points. He landed a quadruple toe loop, triple Axel with a hand down, and a triple Lutz-triple toe.
Daisuke Takahashi sits in a disappointing 4th place after the short program, five points behind Hanyu. He is skating a new program here, to Moonlight Sonata. I think it is refreshing to see Takahashi return to a more traditional program, but he had problems with the quad toe loop and then fell on his triple Axel. He didn't look completely comfortable with the choreography just yet, and I feel like his artistic ability extends way past anything Nikolai Morozov could ever give him.
Down the line..
Kevin Reynolds landed both a quadruple toe loop and quadruple Salchow-triple toe in his short program. While they were both deemed under-rotated (between a quarter and half-turn cheat), he earned big points for his effort, and is currently in 6th place.
I don't know what the judges were watching, but one of the highest marks in skating skills on the day should have belonged to Takahito Mura. The judges somehow believed that he was only 7th-best in that department, and that Yan was worthy of a 7.82. I believe this is clearly a case of that component (and the other four) having a direct correlation with the technical level of skating, and it's almost to the point where it's not even worth arguing because the judges aren't going to change any time soon.
Miner sits 9th and Aaron 10th. Ross doubled a quadruple Salchow, absolutely destroying his technical score (he got 0.70 points for the element), and Aaron fell on a triple Axel after slightly running into the boards right before the element. He did, however, pull off a clean quad Salchow-double toe combination. I alluded to the PCS scores being a little strange in the last paragraph, and I still believe that Aaron won't be receiving the almost-7.00 average scores he earned here (and 8.00 average at Nationals) come Worlds. We shall see..
Andrei Rogozine made about as strong a case as possible about being the third Canadian entry to Worlds after beating other contender Elladj Balde by over 18 points in the short program. Rogozine was third at Nationals.
Misha Ge skated to a 12th place finish, but ended up with the third-highest interpretation mark on the day. What? A sign that not all of the components have to directly relate to the technical efforts?!
The free skates are in the middle of the night tonight in the United States. Look for a report tomorrow afternoon :)
The Canadian teams of Duhamel/Radford and Moore-Towers/Moscovitch easily lead the way, scoring 70.44 and 66.33 points respectively and comfortably ahead of the rest of the field. Both teams qualified for the Grand Prix Final earlier this season, and with their showings at Canadian Nationals and so far through this competition, I'd say there's a very excellent shot at them earning three spots to the Sochi Olympics at the World Championships next month-- which, by the way, are in Canada.
American Champions Castelli and Shnapir are a distant third, just .08 points ahead of National bronze medalists Zhang and Bartholomay. Less than five points separate third place from seventh (last) place in this field, so the bronze medal battle is still wide open.
US National silver medalists Scimeca and Knierim withdrew prior to the short program due to injury on her part.
Olympic Champions Virtue/Moir have a 0.44 point lead over Davis/White after the Americans earned a level three on their no-touching step sequence (the level 4 has a 1.50-point higher base value). As with the last three seasons and these two teams, the free dance will surely prove to be a close battle.
Chock/Bates again find themselves ahead of the Shibutanis, as the teams sit in 3rd and 4th place after the short dance.
The pairs free skate and free dance will take place late Saturday night.