Canada's Keegan Messing performs his men's short program during the Skate Canada International figure skating competition, in Vancouver, on Friday, October 29, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Messing third after the men’s short program at Skate Canada International

Messing third after the men’s short program at Skate Canada International

He enjoyed competing again but Keegan Messing had forgotten about the pressure.

Messing shook off any nerves he felt, finishing third to be the top Canadian in the men’s short program at the Skate Canada International figuring skating competition Friday.

“It’s a joy to be back on the Grand Prix circuit but boy did I forget about the pressure that comes with it,” said Messing, who was born Anchorage, Alaska, but whose mother is from Edmonton. “Just to go out there to put down a clean skate. I was very thankful of that.

“I’m ready to push for the long (program) tomorrow.”

Messing, competing in his first event of the season, was awarded a score of 93.28 points.

American Nathan Chen finished first with 106.72 points while countryman Jason Brown was second with 94.00.

Conrad Orzel of Toronto was ninth with 73.19 points while Roman Sadovsky, also of Toronto, was 10th with 72.94.

Chen, the three-time reigning world champion, is looking to overcome a third-place finish at last week’s Skate America in Las Vegas.

“Any time, both in practice and competition, when you don’t do well, I want immediately to get another opportunity to try,” said Chen. “I don’t know if it’s going to be successful or but I want that next opportunity.

“I’m thrill I have this opportunity to try this again rather than wait three or four weeks.”

Organizers say about 600 tickets were sold for Friday’s competition at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre at the University of British Columbia.

Messing, who finished third at the Canadian figure skating championships the last two years it was held, said the skaters could feel the energy of having people in the building.

“Having the crowd was incredible,” he said. “I almost forgot what it was like to skate with a crowd.

“They were pumping me up and getting me going. I felt like my feet were floating on the ice tonight.”

Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro were top Canadians, placing fourth, after the short program in the pairs competition with a score of 66.43 points. Canadians Vanessa James and Eric Radford were fifth with 65.02 points while Lori-Ann Matte and Thierry Ferland were seventh in the eight-pair field with 57.25 points.

The Chinese team of Wenjing Sui and Cong Han led with 78.94 points. Russia’s Daria Pavliuchenko and Denis Khodykin were second with 69.46 points followed by Germany’s Minerva Fabinne Hase and Noland Seegert with 67.93.

Moore-Towers, from St. Catharines, Ont., said the pair will probably retire after the Olympics, making each competition bittersweet.

“We are trying to soak in every moment of skating with a crowd we can,” said Moore-Towers. “We were really attacking it we wanted it so badly. We needed to be a little bit more precise.”

Marinaro, from Sarina, Ont., said the pair have shut out media focus on James and Radford and focused on themselves.

“At the beginning of the year we gave them a little bit too much of our thought, a little bit too much of our attention,” he said. “Very quickly we realized that wasn’t a pass to success for us.

“At this point we’ve come to terms with where we are at and are just focusing solely on ourselves to give ourselves the beset opportunity, we can to beat them.

“We definitely want to beat them.”

James said the pair continue to be on a learning curve.

Radford, a two-time world champion and three-time Olympic medallist from Balmertown, Ont., announced in April he was coming out of retirement to partner with James, who was born in Toronto but previously competed for France.

“We’re learning we still need mileage, we still need time and competition,” said James. “Everything is coming together but we still need time together in competition.

“We’re learning a lot about each other, how each other reacts in competition, what changes a little bit when we are under stress. Hopefully with some time we will get everything perfected for when it really counts.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 29, 2021

The Canadian Press

Figure Skating