Two-time World Junior Champion could be making his first appearance on a Grand Prix event podium after a personal best short program Friday at Trophee Eric Bompard in Paris, France. With his smooth performance to “Jonathan Livingston Seagull” written by Richard Bach, he secured a third place standing heading into the free skate with 75.82 points.
Tomas Verner of the Czech Republic leads Japan’s Nobunari Oda 81.00 to 79.20. Verner nailed a quadruple toe-triple toe combination, a triple axel and a triple lutz while Oda landed a triple axel, a triple lutz-triple toe and a triple flip, all in the early stages of his program.
“It was a little bit shaky, but I’m happy with the jumps and the interpretation,” said Rippon, who was fifth and eighth at his Grand Prix events last year. He opened with a triple flip-triple toe combination and then went on to nail a triple axel, a jump that gave him trouble throughout the last season, and a variation of the Brian Boitano triple lutz with both hands clasped above his head.
Rippon’s triple axel “technique really wasn’t spot on (last season),” said coach Brian Orser, who is also the coach of ladies World Champion Yu-Na Kim of Korea. “Now, he’s a lot more confident with it.”
Although his performance was strong, he lost points on the final combination spin of the program, receiving only a Level 1 for the move, something he attributes to rushing the opening camel. Most of Rippon’s spins have received Level 3 or 4 in the past.
Frenchman Brian Joubert, the 2007 World Champion who finished in third place behind American Evan Lysacek and Canadian Patrick Chan at the 2009 Worlds, is in sixth place after miscues on the landings of each of his jumping passes. He had no falls but still managed only 72.15, well off his personal best of 86.90 from last season’s European Championships.
American Ryan Bradley, the crowd pleaser who finished fourth at the 2009 U.S. Championships, is in eighth place with 65.21 points after botching the landing of his triple lutz, although he did not fall, and receiving only a Level 1 for his straight line step sequence. His program started with a quad toe-double toe and a triple axel.
The men’s competition concludes Saturday with the free skate starting at 1:30 p.m. local time.
Earlier Friday in the compulsory dance, World bronze medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada skated a solid Golden Waltz to position themselves in first place with 38.41. In second and third, Great Britain’s sibling team
Sinead Kerr and John Kerr (36.13) and French champions Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat (35.53).
U.S. silver medalists Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates, who won a bronze medal at the NHK Trophy last season, are currently fourth with a score of 31.11. Two-time U.S. bronze medalists Kimberly Navarro and Brent Bommentre (29.19) sixth while Madison Hubbell and Keiffer Hubbell, fourth at the 2009 U.S. Championships, are seventh with 27.17.
The ice dance competition continues Friday evening with the original dance. On Saturday at 6:15 p.m. local time, Trophee Eric Bompard wraps with the free dance.
Trophee Eric Bompard is the first event of the 2009 International Skating Union (ISU) Grand Prix of Figure Skating circuit. The series, now in its 15th season, consists of six international events in a cumulative, point-scoring format. The top six scoring athletes in each discipline move onto the Grand Prix Final, Dec. 3-6, in Tokyo, Japan, which will be combined with the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final for the second consecutive season.
The six Grand Prix events are Trophee Eric Bompard, Oct. 15-18, in Paris, France; Rostelecom Cup, Oct. 22-25, in Moscow Russia; Cup of China, Oct. 29-Nov. 1, in Beijing, China; NHK Trophy, Nov. 5-8, in Nagano, Japan; Skate America, Nov. 12-15, in Lake Placid, N.Y.; and Skate Canada, Nov. 19-22, in Kitchener, Canada.
The points toward the Grand Prix Final that are awarded for each place are 15 points for first; 13 points for second; 11 points for third; nine points for fourth; seven points for fifth; five points for sixth place; four points for seventh place; and three points for eighth. In pair skating, only the top six receive points.
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