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Chan leads with record-setting score

LONDON, Canada (AFP) –

Patrick Chan reacts to his score of  98.37 at the World Figure Skating Championships on March 13, 2013

Patrick Chan reacts to his score of 98.37 at the World Figure Skating Championships in London, Ontario, on March 13, 2013. Chan is well on his way to defending his title after producing one of the greatest short programmes of his career.

Patrick Chan is well on his way to defending his title after producing one of the greatest short programmes of his career at the World Figure Skating Championships in his native Canada.

The 22-year-old was rewarded Wednesday night with a score of 98.37, the highest ever recorded for the opening round.

The twice world champion delivered a rock solid quadruple-triple jump combination and picture perfect triple Axel in a sublime performance that had the crowd at the Budweiser Gardens in London, Ontario on its feet as he wound down his final spin.

“It was so inspirational to be out there. I got into my last spin and there was a rush through my whole body. It was tingling,” said Chan.

Chan struggled with shaky performances on the Grand Prix circuit last fall, raising questions about his chances to win again here.

Patrick Chan produced one of the greatest short programmes of his career on March 13, 2013

Patrick Chan produced one of the greatest short programmes of his career on March 13, 2013. The twice world champion delivered a rock solid quadruple-triple jump combination and picture perfect triple Axel in a sublime performance that had the crowd at the Budweiser Gardens in London, Ontario on its feet.

Grabbing second place (91.56) was unheralded Denis Ten, of Kazakhstan, who opened with a beautiful quadruple toe-loop and delivered a flawless, yet less technically difficult, programme than Chan.

Canada’s number two, Kevin Reynolds, who scored an upset with his recent win at the Four Continents Championship, posted 85.16 points to sit third.

Known for his rapid rotation on his jumps, Reynolds produced two quadruple jumps — a salchow and toe-loop, although he had to fight to hang onto the landing of the second.

Ten, seventh at the 2012 worlds, and Reynolds, who was 12th, both expressed surprise and excitement to be among the frontrunners.

Ten, a descendant of the famous Korean general Min Keung Ho, said the small medal he won for his short programme result was the first world championship medal for Kazakhstan.

“I will try to keep my mood and motivation the same for (Friday’s) final,” said Ten, who now works with the coach and choreographer who were behind US skating star Michelle Kwan’s brilliant career.

Chan was the only man among the four gold medal favourites to skate to his potential on a night when stellar performances were the exception.

“It’s not a matter of luck,” he said. “It’s how much work you put in and the confidence you have.

“I worked very hard the last three weeks.”

One by one, the other contenders faltered, finishing out of the top three.

While it is unlikely Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu, (ninth with 75.94) can claw his way back in the final and grab a medal, his countryman Daisuke Takahashi (fourth with 84.67)and Spain’s Javier Fernandez (seventh with 80.76) still have a shot at the podium.

Fernandez, who was coming off the high of winning the European title, turned his planned triple Axel into a single at huge cost, while Takahashi’s quadruple jump attempt was significantly underroated.

Also in contention is veteran Frenchman Brian Joubert in fifth with 84.17.

Earlier Wednesday, Russians Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov finished atop the scoreboard with an assured performance in the pairs short programme.

The twice world silver medallists head into Friday’s final with 75.84 points and a slim lead over Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford (73.61) and Germany’s four-time world champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy (73.47).

In all, five couples, including another Russian and Canadian duo, are in podium position with just over six points separating fifth from first place.

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