PARIS (AP) — Patrick Chan showed why he'll be among the favorites at the Sochi Olympics by breaking his own world record in the men's short program to take the lead at the Trophee Bompard on Friday.
The three-time world champion warmed up with a perfectly executed quad toeloop-triple toeloop jump, nailed a triple axel and a triple lutz and rounded his program off with a lightning fast step sequence to score 98.52 points. That bettered the Canadian's own mark of 98.37 set at the worlds in March.
"I was ecstatic at the way I skated," Chan said. "I didn't even know I broke the record. If I can make a world record at the Olympics it would be amazing. I'm looking at the Olympics so I'm really focused on that. A world record is a nice thing to say and a nice thing to have."
Also, American skater Ashley Wagner made a good start to her title defense by taking a commanding lead in the short program with 66.75 points. Wagner, who finished second at Skate America, posted a score of 66.75 points to lead ahead of 15-year-old Anna Pogorilaya. The Russian, who landed seven triple jumps in her free skate to win the Cup of China earlier this month, has 60.03 and is just ahead of Russia's Adelina Sotnikova on 60.01.
Earlier, the 22-year-old Chan was at his graceful best to the sounds of Rachmaninov's "Elegie in E flat" and looks well set to win the Paris event for the fourth time. "It was nice to be in a big space, because that's where I can really flow and push," said Chan, who won Skate Canada last month. "I didn't feel perfect in the air on a lot of the jumps, but that's where training comes into play where you don't have the best air position or jump but automatic pilot kicks in."
Chan's performance inspired Japanese skater Yuzuru Hanyu, who followed Chan onto the ice and got the crowd going with an energetic performance to move into second place with 95.37. "I still have something to improve, like steps and spins," Hanyu said through an interpreter.
American skater Jason Brown is in third place with 84.77 heading into Saturday's free skate. "To be at the same event as these guys is amazing," the 18-year-old Brown said. Earlier, Olympic runners-up Pang Qing and Tong Jian took the lead in the pairs competition after the short program ahead of world bronze medalists Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford.
The Chinese pair scored 67.69 points with Duhamel and Radford tallying 66.07. "We've never won this event and this is our last season, so it will be our last chance," the 34-year-old Tong said through a translator.
The Canadians were among the favorites but Duhamel landed heavily early on when attempting a triple lutz. They led after the short at Skate Canada last month but slipped from first to third after a flawed free skate.
"Obviously there's a big mistake and that's three years in a row where we find ourselves second after the short program so I guess that's our place," Duhamel said. Russians Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov are in third place with 65.67.
Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada took a commanding lead in the ice dance after posting a score of 75.31 points in the short program. They won Skate Canada and are heavy favorites as Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White are not participating.
"We made a lot of changes and it felt like we executed them well," Moir said. Cup of China winners Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat of France are next with 70.59 points, with European runners-up Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov of Russia in third spot with 69.07.
The Cup of Russia next week in Moscow will be the last chance for skaters to qualify for the GP Final, which features the top six skaters in each category.