Cynthia Phaneuf, right, and her coach Annie Barabe celebrate her first place finish after the short program. ((Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press))

 Cynthia Phaneuf of Contrecoeur, Que., leads the women after winning the short program at the 2011 BMO Canadian Figure Skating Championships with 60.77 points.

The 22-year-old was just 16 when she won the Canadian title in 2004 before an emerging Joannie Rochette captured six straight. Rochette is taking the season off to contemplate her future, and Phaneuf is hungry to regain that crown.

"When I came here I didn't hide myself from it, I said it openly, I'm here to win, and I'm not going to say that I want to skate well and be proud when I get off the ice," Phaneuf said. "I want to go home and have the gold around my neck, and I know what I have to do to have the medal."

Alexandra Najarro of Vaughn, Ont., was second with a score of 52.12. The 17-year-old had no idea she was second, and had already boarded the bus back to the hotel by the time Phaneuf skated.

"I'm new to this," Najarro said with a laugh, after being pulled off the bus to speak with reporters.

Amelie Lacoste of Delson, Que., was third with 50.86.

This week's Canadian championships determines the team for the world event in Tokyo in March. Canada has three spots in men's singles and ice dance, and two in women's singles and pairs.