Rochette leads SkateCanada

Joannie Rochette produced the best short program of her career at HomeSense Skate Canada International on Friday, while Canadian teammate Patrick Chan looks like he has a ways to go.

KITCHENER, Ont. — Joannie Rochette produced the best short program of her career at HomeSense Skate Canada International on Friday, while Canadian teammate Patrick Chan looks like he has a ways to go.

The 23-year-old Rochette from Ile-Dupas, Que., jumped and spun her way to a personal best 70.00 points with her near-flawless tango to La Cumparsita, bringing the red-clad crowd at The Aud to its feet.

Chan ended the evening with a disastrous season debut, finishing sixth in the men’s short program in the Toronto skater’s first competition season tearing his calf muscle earlier this fall.

“I got it out there, got the first one over with,” Chan said.

“The first one’s always tough. It would have definitely been weird if I had done a clean short the first time. It felt good to be back, for sure. It’s really just getting used to being back in competition. I’ve been out for a couple months but it’s interesting. It’s good to be back, good to be with the guys again and I’ll be ready the next time.”

Chan scored 68.64 points, eliciting gasps from the crowd with a fall on his opening triple Axel, then doubled a planned triple toe loop, the second element in a planned triple-triple combination.

Jeremy Abbott of the U.S. won the short with 79.00, while Japan’s Daisuke Takahashi was second with 76.30, and Kazahkstan’s Denis Ten took third with 75.45.

Rochette’s dazzling score comes a month after a disastrous short program at the Cup of China that left her in seventh place, admittedly her own fault after she botched a triple-triple combination that had never been part of the program in the first place. “I kind of changed it without my coach’s consent,” said Rochette, who managed to claw her way back to win bronze in China.

“I really wanted to challenge myself and I did not follow the plan so I think that’s when I learned the importance of a plan and sticking to it.”

Rochette opened Friday with a clean triple Lutz-double toe combination and followed it up with a triple flip, topping the 67.90 she scored en route to her silver medal at last spring’s world championships.

American Alissa Czisny was second with 63.52, while her U.S. teammate Mirai Nagasu sat third with 56.34. Cynthia Phaneuf of Contrecoeur, Que., was fourth with 55.58, while Amelie Lacoste of Delson, Que., was fifth with 55.10.

Canadian ice dance duo Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir had a strong opening day, winning the compulsory dance.

Earlier in the day, Canada’s Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison were third in the pairs short program.

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