NAGOYA, Japan, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Nathan Chen of the United States edged Japan’s Shoma Uno in the men’s short programme to take the lead at the Grand Prix final on Thursday, setting up a showdown between the two jumping powerhouses two months before the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
On the first day of the competition, often seen as a key step on the road to the Olympics, Chen took 103.32 points for his dynamic, clean routine, while Uno had an unusual fall on a triple axel and ended up with 101.51 points.
Russia’s Mikhail Kolyada was third with 99.22 points two days after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) banned his country from next year’s Games in South Korea for “unprecedented systematic manipulation” of the anti-doping system.
However, President Vladimir Putin and other Russian officials have said they won’t stand in the way of their athletes taking part in Pyeongchang as neutrals.
The IOC said Russians could compete at the Feb. 9-25 Games as an “Olympic Athlete of Russia” if they satisfy strict conditions that show they have a doping-free background.
In the pairs, Germany’s Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot, facing their first Olympics together, took a surprise lead in the short programme on 79.43 points with an entertaining routine to ‘That Man’ by Cara Emerald which got a standing ovation.
The Chinese pair of Wenjing Sui and Cong Han, strong favourites going into Pyeongchang, were third after Han fell on their first jump and are nearly four points off the lead. (Reporting by Elaine Lies; Editing by Ken Ferris)