While World Champion Brian Joubert and three-time U.S. Champion Johnny Weir resurrected their seasons Friday at the NHK Trophy in Nagano, Japan, reigning Grand Prix Final Champion started his off on a high note.
Joubert, who finished a disapointing fourth at Trophee Eric Bompard, leads the short program with 85.35 points. Abbott is second with 83.00 and Weir, who missed the podium in his season debut at Rostelecom Cup, is third with 78.35. Two-time World Junior Champion(67.15), who won bronze at Trophee Eric Bompard, is eighth.
“I was very nervous coming in, because it’s a lot of new firsts for me,” Abbott said. “This is the first full competition I’ve done [this season] and I have a new coach and a lot of new things happen to my life. So I was very anxious to see how it would turn out. My training has been going very well and I felt that I just kept everything the same [like in practice].”
Abbott opened his elegant performance to “A Day in the Life” by The Beatles with a solid triple flip-triple toeloop combination followed by a triple Axel and triple Lutz. He was awarded a Level 4 for the change foot sit spin and the flying sit spinwhile his combination spin and both step sequences were graded Level 3.
Skating to a rumba program he titled “I Love You, I Hate You”, Weir landed a triple Lutz-triple toe, a triple Axel and triple flip. He picked up a Level 4 for two spins, a Level 3 for the combination spin and another Level 3 the circular footwork to post a seasons best score.
“After my season premiere in Russia, just two weeks ago I was very angry with myself and the way I’ve skated there, Weir said. “So when I went home in the short period between the two competitions I worked very hard to change my mentality. When I went on the airplane I got very sick and I’m proud that I could still push through this situation and have a fever and still compete and really show the level of training that I’ve done this summer.”
Joubert nailed a quadruple-triple toe combination and a triple Axel in his fast-paced routine to “Rise” by Safri Duo, but he did a three-turn out of his triple Lutz. “I am very happy with today’s performance. It was difficult for me after my first Grand Prix. I was very disappointed there, and it was important for me to do this kind of program today. This gives me confidence for the rest of the competition,” he said.
Rippon fell during his performance.
NHK Trophy is the fourth 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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