Ice Network

Ten takes lead in top-heavy men's field at Bompard

Machida, Menshov sit 2-3; Fourth-place Dornbush battles food poisoning
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Olympic bronze medalist Denis Ten of Kazakhstan was on fire in Bordeaux, notching 91.78 points to eclipse the personal best he set at the 2013 World Championships. -Getty Images

Denis Ten, the 2014 Olympic bronze medalist, won the men's short program at 2014 Trophée Eric Bompard on Friday in Bordeaux. He amassed 91.78 points -- the only skater to reach the 90-point bar. He sits ahead of Japan's Tatsuki Machida (88.70 points) and 2014 European bronze medalist Konstantin Menshov of Russia. Menshov landed two different quads (a Salchow and a toe loop) in his season's-best, 87.47-point short program.

Team USA's Richard Dornbush emerged as the highest-ranked American, in fourth place (80.24 points, his season's best). France's Chafik Besseghier sits in fifth place heading into the free skate (78.22 points, also a season's best), ahead of Russia's Maxim Kovtun (77.11 points), who endured two heavy falls. American Adam Rippon sits in contention with 76.98 points.

Ten performed a perfect program, landing a beautiful and ample quad toe loop, which was not in combination, unlike most of his competitors. He also executed a triple Axel and a triple Lutz-triple toe combination. Two of his spins received a Level 4, a major improvement from Skate Canada.

"As you know, I always have challenges at competitions," Ten said. "Skate America taught me a lot, especially on my spins. They were really bad at Skate America, I realized."

Ten skated to "Caruso," an "air de bravoure" (bravery song) from Italy that suits his style very well. He brought the audience along with him right away. Ten is one of those skaters who takes the time to live his jumps and each of his elements to their fullest extent.

"I have so much responsibility in my country now," Ten explained after he finished his program. "You cannot even imagine how important my Olympic medal was from last year -- a first for my country. There are many little kids looking at me as a role model, and I can't disappoint them."

Ten was quite happy about his performance.

"This shows me that sometimes I can start a season a little faster than I was used to!" said Ten, who in previous seasons did not find much success in the Grand Prix Series. "This event is a checkpoint, really, and there are many more competitions to come for which I should be ready."

Machida skated his whole heart out -- again. His opening quad toe-triple toe combination earned him 15.26 points right away, and his superb triple Axel added another 10.64 to his tally. His final step sequence was so expressive and generous that he lacked some stamina to end his program perfectly. His only mistake was the slight hand he put on the ice while landing his triple Lutz.

"I was so tired at the end of my program," Machida explained. "Tiredness took its toll in the last steps. But I am very confident in my free program."

As he told icenetwork previously, Machida is determined to make each one of his elements a true masterpiece. His "tragic love" short program, as he describes it, was indeed one of those magical moments skating can provide.

Many experts thought that if any Russian was going to place third in Bordeaux, it would be Kovtun. Menshov added yet another surprise to his career, following up his third-place finish at Europeans in January.

Menshov delivered a power-packed performance to Terenzi's "Rotting Romance," landing a quad toe-triple toe combination, quad Salchow and triple Axel. His technical score of 49.97 was the best of the competition.

"I tried not to repeat the same mistakes I had done at Skate Canada," said Menshov, whose components were were one point lower than Machida's (7.6 average vs. 8.6 average).

Menshov's career seems to get better with age -- just like the Bordeaux wine, some might add.

"Some of you may have seen the Benjamin Button movie," he said laughingly. "Maybe I was born old, too, and I am just getting younger and younger year after year?"

The least that can be said about Dornbush is that he had a heroic outing in Bordeaux. He was magnificent throughout his program, which he skated to Henri Mancini's "The Sons of Italy." Even though his usual charisma was not there, he managed to rally the audience to his program.

As a matter of fact, Dornbush arrived in Bordeaux quite sick after coming down with food poisoning from a meal he ate on one the planes that took him to Bordeaux.

"It was a real struggle out there," he admitted afterward, finding a bit of his smile back. "It really worked well, especially given the less-than-ideal circumstances I am in. Usually, I have a quad in my program. I had to struggle with my triple Axel, which usually is never a problem for me. I had to scale back tonight."

Dornbush replaced his quad toe loop with a safer triple flip, and went on to land a triple Axel and a triple Lutz-triple toe combination at the end. His program was not the one he was hoping for, but it could have been worse. He is sitting in fourth place heading into tomorrow's free skate.

France's Besseghier, who finished ninth at worlds last season, created somewhat of a sensation in his home country, as he landed all of his elements, from his quad toe-triple toe combination to triple Axel to triple Lutz. He is in fifth, more than a point ahead of Kovtun and Rippon.

Kovtun put a lot on the line in his short program that featured two quads. He delivered on the first one, a quad Salchow-double toe combination but fell heavily on his subsequent quad toe and triple Axel. His components, close to an 8, saved his day.

Rippon has carved out a beautiful program to "Tuxedo Junction" by Quincy Jones. He landed his opening triple Axel, followed by his "Rippon" Lutz-triple toe combination. The latter jump was downgraded by the technical panel, however. Since he last came to France, Rippon has added a "Rippon" flip to his arsenal as well, which he executed perfectly.

"I was so nervous," he said as he came off the ice. "You know, I skated so badly at my last Grand Prix that I really had a big monkey on my back before skating here. In fact, I really wanted to change something, so I skated with the costume of my former roommate! I thought that would help."

Besseghier, Kovtun, Rippon, Russia's Adian Pitkeev, France's Florent Amodio and China's Han Yan each sit within four points of each other before the free skate, about 14 points behind Ten. Team USA's Douglas Razzano sits in 11th place with 64.98 points.