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Abbott swings to top in short at Rostelecom

Cup of China champ leaves quad out of program; Mroz stumbles on Lutz

Jeremy Abbott posted the highest short program score of his career in Moscow.
Jeremy Abbott posted the highest short program score of his career in Moscow. (Getty Images)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(11/25/2011) - Jeremy Abbott's snappy short to big band tunes won the day in Moscow, earning a career-best 83.54 points and 0.76-point lead entering Saturday's free skate at the 2011 Rostelecom Cup.

The energetic routine, choreographed with the help of West Coast swing champion (and winner of season two of So You Think You Can Dance) Benji Schwimmer, fired on all cylinders, with Abbott executing energetic steps and landing a clean triple Axel, triple flip-triple toe loop combination and triple Lutz.

"I had a lot of fun today. I think it really was the most fun I've had on the ice in a very, very long time, if not ever," Abbott said. "I thought the Russian audience was very receptive to my program. From the start, they were clapping along with the music, and with each element that I hit they got more and more excited, and so did I. That made it much easier to perform."

The two-time U.S. champion did not try a quad, which may have worked in his favor today, as others lost ground on the four-revolution jump.

Japan's 2010 world junior champion Yuzuru Hanyu faltered on the landing of an opening quad toe but recovered quickly with a solid triple Axel and, later, a triple Lutz-triple toe. He earned 82.78, also a new personal best.

2011 Skate America champion Michal Brezina had a crisp outing of his "Kodo drums" routine, highlighted by a huge opening triple Axel. Like Abbott, he did not try a quad, opting instead for a clean triple flip-triple toe combination and triple Lutz. The Czech earned 79.01 points.

"I feel good about what I did today," Brezina said. "I did all my jumps, but I struggled with my spins and steps. I almost hit my season's best today, so I am happy about that."

Spain's Javier Fernandez landed a superb quad toe loop at the start of his short but doubled the first jump in an intended triple Lutz-triple toe combination. Nevertheless, his 78.50 points put him third, within striking distance of a medal.

Much to the grimacing displeasure of his coach, Alexei Mishin, Russian world bronze medalist Artur Gachinski fell on his opening quad toe. Although the 19-year-old completed the rest of his "St. Louis Blues" short in style, the mistake proved costly, landing him in fifth place with 74.73 points.

Brandon Mroz -- who landed the first-ever quadruple Lutz in competition, at the Colorado Springs Invitational, and also gained credit for the jump at his first Grand Prix, the NHK Trophy -- did not duplicate the historic feat here, falling on an under-rotated attempt. He sits sixth with 69.35 points.

Information from the ISU press release was used in this article.