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Pang-Tong lead as Kim takes charge

SOUTH Korea's Kim Yu-Na Kim on Wednesday won the ladies short program at the Four Continents competition that is serving as a test event for the Vancouver Olympics venue.

Kim scored 72.24 points, collecting high marks for her triple flip-triple toe loop combo, and her triple Lutz.

"My programs are getting better in practice, so I really wanted to do the same in the competition today and I did it and did a high score, so I'm very happy," Kim said.

Five-time Canadian champion Joannie Rochette, who won the silver last year, again finished second in the short program with 66.90 points, and fellow Canadian Cynthia Phaneuf was third at 60.98.

Rochette earned high marks for her triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination, opting to substitute that for a triple-triple combination that has given her trouble.

"It felt great to lay down a clean program after changing the elements just one week ago, it's great to be able to do this before the worlds," Rochette said.

Phaneuf had what she called her first clean program in four years.

"I'm very proud of myself, this is a big relief," Phaneuf said. "I was feeling so good out there, finally it was a clean program."

Defending world champion Mao Asada of Japan was sixth, losing major marks for doubling a planned triple Lutz. Her compatriot Fumie Suguri was fourth.

Caroline Zhang of the United States was fifth and fellow Americans Alissa Czisny and Rachael Flatt seventh and eighth, respectively.

"She (Kim) gives me a lot of motivation and helps me go to the next step," said Asada. "By skating with her it motivates me to continue to the next level.

"Tonight I was having trouble with my jumps.

"I'm not satisfied with this performance. I want to forget this performance and set my mind positively for the free skate."

China's Pang Qing and Tong Jian won the pairs short program with a nice routine.

Pang and Tong scored 65.60 points to edge Canada's Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison, who had 64.36. Compatriots Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao were third with 63.20.

The leaders earned high marks for their triple twist and throw triple loop, but lost points when Pang doubled an intended triple toe loop in side-by-side jumps to begin their program.

Pang and Tong won the 2006 world title and are the defending champions at Four Continents, which they have won three times.

In the compulsory dance program, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada climbed back to the top in their return to the international stage, scoring 36.40 points. The world championship silver medalists found themselves in first place just eight weeks after Virtue resumed training following surgery to both her legs.

"It's just sort of an up and down thing," Virtue said. "We have to take each day as it comes and deal with it."


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