Canadian pair in contention after short program at Cup of China


Canada's Liubov Ilyushechkina and Charlie Bilodeau (Paul Chiasson/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

CHONGQING, China — Canada’s Lubov Ilyushechkina and Charlie Bilodeau sit second after the pairs short program at the Cup of China.

China’s Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, the reigning world champs, opened up a 12-point lead on the Canadians in the short program, scoring 80.90. Peng Cheng and Jin Yang of China are third at the Grand Prix event.

Ilyushechkina, from Toronto, and Bilodeau, from Trois-Pistoles, Que., scored a personal-best 68.98 points.

"We really like the feeling we’ve developed for this short program and it was quite stable," Bilodeau said.

Montreal’s Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sorensen are third after the short dance.

Russians Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsapalov are first, followed by Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates.

Fournier Beaudry and Sorensen are coming off a third-place finish at Skate America.

Fifteen-year-old Anna Shcherbakova of Russia took the lead in the women’s short program, and China’s Yan Han leads the men’s event after returning from a season out.

Shcherbakova, who is looking to win her second Grand Prix of the season following victory at last month’s Skate America, landed a double axel and a triple lutz-triple loop combination for a personal-best 73.51 points.

"The performance was good," the Russian said. "I did all my jumps and elements, but I want more quality for all my elements."

Satoko Miyahara of Japan was second with 68.91 points, while Amber Glenn of the United States was third with 67.69 ahead of Saturday’s free skate.

Along with Alexandra Trusova and Alena Kostornaia, Shcherbakova is one of three young Russian skaters who have moved up to the senior level this season. Between them, they have won all three women’s Grand Prix events so far with an array of big jumps.

Yan scored 86.46 points to lead the men’s short program in his first international competition since a sabbatical last season. Chinese teammate Jin Boyang earned 85.43 points for second and Matteo Rizzo of Italy was third with 81.72.

Keegan Messing of Sherwood Park, Alta., is fifth and Conrad Orzel of Woodbridge, Ont., is 10th.

— With files from The Associated Press.

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