BORDEAUX, France – Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier of Toronto are in second place after Friday’s short dance at the Trophee Eric Bompard, the fourth stop on the ISU Grand Prix figure skating circuit.
Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue of the U.S. are first at 64.45, Gilles and Poirier followed with a season’s best 63.94 and Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin of Russia are third at 60.64.
“We couldn’t be happier, we are in striking distance of first place,” said Poirier, third with his partner three weeks ago at Skate America. “We increased our scores in several areas and there are still a few levels we can improve.”
The couple feel they are ahead of last year’s pace.
“We took the last couple of weeks to really iron out a lot of small details. That’s a part of the process we were not yet doing at this point last season,” added Gilles.
Patrick Chan fifth
In men’s competition, Shoma Uno of Japan is first after the short program at 89.56, Maxim Kovtun of Russia second at 86.82 and Daisuke Murakami of Japan third at 80.24.
Patrick Chan of Toronto, in his second competition in his comeback season, is fifth at 76.10. Chan didn’t complete his quad jump and put his hand down on a triple which cost him points.
“It was a shaky opening popping the quad,” said Chan, the gold medallist at Skate Canada two weeks ago. “I had a little bit of hesitation. All practices here had been really good but in the moment of pressure and expectations I kind of rushed through it and didn’t commit to every part of it.”
Chan says he is pleased with his progress so far after sitting out all of last season.
“All the mistakes I made at Skate Canada were successful here so you win some and lose some. That’s what the Grand Prix season is about and mistakes are usually to be expected.”
In pairs, first-year seniors Julianne Séguin of Longueuil, Que., and Charlie Bilodeau of Trois-Pistoles, Que., produced a personal best 64.95 to stand third after the short program. Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov of Russia lead with 74.50 and Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres of France are second at 65.75.
“It was really satisfying for us to increase the level of the entire program,” said Séguin, third with her partner at Skate America. ‘’There were a lot of technical elements in particular we needed to improve such as the spiral for which we increased to a level three.’’
In women’s competition after the short, Gracie Gold of the U.S., Julia Lipnitskaia of Russia second and Roberta Rodeghiero of Italy are 1-2-3.
Gabrielle Daleman of Newmarket, Ont., earned 55.35 for sixth but is just over three points from third place.
All four free skates are on Saturday. CBC.ca is live streaming the event beginning at 7:30 a.m.