Figure skating: Japan's Takahashi wins men's short at worlds
TURIN, Italy — Olympic bronze medalist Daisuke Takahashi dazzled the judges with huge jumps and speedy steps on Wednesday to take the lead after the short program at the world figure skating championships.
Canada's Patrick Chan was second with a clean, well-polished tango, followed by France's Brian Joubert, who rebounded from a disappointing Vancouver Olympics with an impressive skate that started with a quad-triple combination.
Takahashi skated flawlessly and racked up bonus points for his score of 89.30, short of his season-best 90.85. The crowd cheered wildly with dozens of Japanese flags waving in the stands.
"I did a good performance, even if I did not skate as fast as I could," Takahashi said. "I know that I can also do better."
Chan had 87.80 points with Joubert another tenth behind going into the final free program on Thursday.
The results showed again that the quad was not yet king in men's figure skating. Despite the point-boosting quad-triple, Joubert was not able to overcome Takahashi's more intricate and energetic step sequences.
Joubert's technical score was only half a point ahead of Takahashi's and Chan's — neither of whom attempted the jump.
Takahashi said he was still deciding whether to put a quad into his free program.
Joubert's joy grew with each element completed cleanly: Quad toe, triple toe, fist punch; tight triple lutz, another fist; then a textbook lutz. Joubert seemed so sure of his victory that he punched the air toward his coach when preparing for a step sequence.
The performance easily erased the memory of his Olympic short, where he missed the quad-triple combination and under-rotated the triple lutz.
"A lot of people said bad things about me" after Vancouver, Joubert said. "I want to show people I am not finished."
Chan, too, said he had something to prove at the worlds. He was a medal hopeful in Vancouver but finished fifth, an experience he said gave him peace of mind at the worlds.
"If you can handle the Olympics, you can handle almost anything," Chan said. "I think it really, really helped today in the short program."
Olympic champion Evan Lysacek of the United States decided not to compete in Turin, while silver medalist Evgeni Plushenko of Russia withdrew with an injury.
The competition continues later Wednesday with the pairs' final free program.
Olympic silver medalists Pang Qing and Tong Jian earned a season-best 75.28 points for their short program, to the same "The Pearlfishers" that they skated in Vancouver. The 2006 world champions are two points ahead of Russia's Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov.
Two-time defending world champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy are third, while Olympic champions Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo did not enter.