Canadians lead at Skate Canada

Canadians Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon won the compulsory portion of the Skate Canada ice dance competition Thursday night in Victoria.

Canadians Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon won the compulsory portion of the Skate Canada ice dance competitionThursday night in Victoria.

The pair from Montreal, silver medallists at last year's world championships in Calgary, was awarded 38.83 points in the opening segment of the $180,000 international event.

Italians Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali finished second with a score of 33.19, while Tesse Virtue of London, Ont., and Scott Moir of Ilderton, Ont., placed third with 29.51 points.

Dubreuil and Lauzon considered retiring following last year's worlds, but had a change of heart. The move seemed to take the pressure off Virtue and Moir, who expect to take the mantle from the top-ranked Canadians one day.

"We think it's great," Moir said of skating in the shadow of the accomplished Montrealers this season. "We were happy to hear they are staying. Obviously, we look up to them as role models."

Canada's third entry in the ice dance event — Chantal Lefebvre and Arseni Markov, both of LaSalle, Que., — sit in ninth place with a score of 25.31.

In the women's short program, South Korea's Yu-Na Kim heads into the free skate on top with a score of 62.68. The 16-year-old world junior champion sits in front of Japan's Fumie Surguri (58.62) and Finnish champion Susanna Pykio (57.62).

Joannie Rochette, of Ile Dupas, Que., will have to make a big comeback if she hopes to stand on the podium after Saturday's free stake. Rochette, who finished second at last year's event, struggled with her program to fall back to fifth place.

"I was rushing into every element instead of just taking my time," she said of her short program performance. "The whole thing was a bit of a battle.

"This is a disappointment, but it's the start to the season and I know I can do much, much better than this."

Vancouver's Mira Leung was sixth with 52.14, and Lesley Hawker of Barrie, Ont., was eighth among 12 with 45.02.

In the pairs short program, Olympic and world silver medallists Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao finished ahead of Canadians Valerie Marcoux and Craig Buntin.

The Chinese duo skated a clean program to earn a score of 69.54. Marcoux of Gatineau, Que., and Buntin of Kelowna, B.C., placed second with 58.14 points, while Americans Rena Inoue and John Baldwin are third with 55.20 points.

Toronto's Elizabeth Putnam and Sean Wirtz of Marathon, Ont., finished fourth (53.82), while Vancouver's Jessica Miller and Ian Moram placed eighth (44.58).

With files from the Canadian Press