Road To The Olympic Games

Nathan Chen pushes past mistakes to top short program at Grand Prix Final

Japanese figure skater Shoma Uno wasn't happy with his performance at the Grand Prix Finals on Thursday.

Canada's Keegan Messing struggles, while Japan's Kihira dominates women's event

American Nathan Chen finished with 92.99 points to finish first after the men's short program at the Grand Prix Finals on Thursday. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press )

Japanese figure skater Shoma Uno wasn't happy with his performance at the Grand Prix Finals on Thursday.

The 20-year-old sat in second after the men's short program with 91.67 points, but said he wasn't able to execute anything he's been working on in training.

"It really was not a great performance today," he said through a translator.

"I wish I could say there was a reason for that but there isn't any. I just couldn't do my jumps properly."

Uno is one of the favourites in the competition, after his teammate and reigning Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu dropped out with an ankle injury.

American Nathan Chen was first after the short program, finishing with 92.99 points.

The current world champion made a mistake on his quad toe loop-triple toe loop combo, which cost him some points, but was ready to move past the error and focus on his next skate.

Watch Nathan Chen's winning short program:

The American scored 92.99 and holds a small lead over Shoma Uno heading into the free skate. 3:46

"The free is the most important thing now," Chen said. "What I did in the past just stays in the past. I can't change what I did. So I just have to use what I did and evolve it into the long program."

At least one of the men skating on Thursday was happy with his performance.

Michal Brezina of the Czech Republic is back in the finals for the first time in seven years and sat in third after the short with 89.21 points.

"I think with the performance that I showed today, even though it wasn't perfect, I think I proved that it wasn't just a mistake that I made it," he said.

Getting back to the top of the skating world has been a long road full of hard work for the 28-year-old.

Nearly three years ago, he moved to Los Angeles to train with coach Rafael Arutunian, who also works with Chen.

Canada's Messing struggles

Brezina said the coaching change has pushed him and reignited his motivation on the ice.

"It's a little bit different, mainly because of the way he approaches practice," he said. "There's never one day that we will practice the same thing. He always comes up with new ways to make your day miserable. But it works."

Canadian skater Keegan Messing finished last in the short program with 79.56 points.

The 26-year-old touched down on his triple axel and said he felt off on every jump.

Watch Messing compete in the short program:

The Canadian scored 79.56 in Vancouver on Thursday. 3:50

"I just had to tuck and pray a little bit. I stayed on my feet and I can leave happy with that," said Messing, who's the only senior Canadian skater in the competition.

"I fought for every little element out there."

Kihira outduels Zagitova 

Japan's breakout star Rika Kihira dominated the women's short program on Friday, finishing first with 82.51 points.

"I was able to perform very calmly. Obviously I was very happy with the score," the 16-year-old said through a translator.

Watch Kihira's dominant performance:

Japanese figure skater leads after scoring 82.51 points. 3:18

Her closest competition was reigning Olympic champion Alina Zagitova from Russia, who finished in second with 77.93 points.

"Today I felt a little tense," Zagitova said through a translator. "But I'm glad I was able to pull myself together."

The tension came from nerves, she added.

"It all comes from the head," the 16-year-old said. "But you just have to go out and do it."

Watch the men's and women's short programs:

ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final from Vancouver. 2:11:17

Zagitova's teammate Elizaveta Tuktamysheva rounded out the women's top three after the short, posting a score of 70.65.

The finals competition continues Friday with the men's free skate, and the pairs and ice dancers short programs.

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