Canada leads after opening day of figure skating team event

Patrick Chan_789102

Canada’s Patrick Chan performs in the men’s single short program team event at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Friday, Feb. 9, 2018. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP)

GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford made up for teammate Patrick Chan’s shaky short program Friday to give Canada the lead in the team competition after the opening day of figure skating at the Pyeongchang Olympics.

The powerhouse Canadian squad, which is expected to challenge the team of Russians for the gold medal, compiled 17 points through the first two disciplines. The U.S. team was second with 14 points, followed by Japan and the Russians with 13 points apiece.

Duhamel and Radford scored 76.57 points in their program set to ”With or Without You” to finish behind Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, whose season-best 80.92 dazzled a crowd that included a contingent of Russian fans wearing bright red shirts that spelled out ”Russia In My Heart.”

Still, that big number couldn’t make up for teammate Mikhail Kolyada’s poor program. The bronze medalist at the grand prix final fell twice to finish eighth among the 10 skaters.

Nathan Chen was wobbly for the Americans, but the pairs team of Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim bailed him out with a strong performance set to music from ”Moulin Rouge.”

The team competition, which debuted four years ago at the Sochi Games, awards points in descending order in each of the disciplines. It resumes Sunday with ice dance and ladies short programs, after which the top five nations will advance to free skates in each of the disciplines.

The first medals of the figure skating program will be handed out Monday.

Canada had hoped to get off to a fast start with Chan, but the three-time world champion fell on his opening quad and again on his triple axel. He skated off the ice emotionless, the 27-year-old clearly disappointed with a performance that could have knocked his team from gold contention.

Instead, their biggest rivals kept taking big spills.

Chen had to double a triple toe loop and quad toe loop, two jumps he’d had little trouble with all week in practice, then fall on the triple axel that has caused him so much consternation. Kolyada had his problems moments later, dealing a big blow to the medal hopes of the Russian athletes.

He stormed through the press area without speaking to reporters.

Shoma Uno laid down the only standout men’s performance, filling in for reigning Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu quite capably. His only bobble came on his opening quad flip, but he breezed through a big quad toe loop-triple toe loop combination and easily landed his triple axel.

His performance helped Japan to a surprising tie for third after the opening day.

More AP Olympic coverage:

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