- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 16, 2009

TOKYO (AP) - World champion Evan Lysacek helped the United States into the lead after the first day of competition at the figure skating World Team Trophy.

Lysacek skated a clean program at Yoyogi Arena on Thursday to score 83.70 points and finish second in the men’s short program behind France’s Brian Joubert, who received 85.30 points.

The United States finished the first of three days with 48 points, followed by Japan (43) and Canada (39) in the first edition of the event.

“I’m not as alert as I normally would be as it’s about 2 or 3 in the morning for me,” said Lysacek, comparing local time with American time zones. Regardless, he said, he liked the format.

“We have 10 or 11 events in the season which are pretty much all the same, so it’s nice to have an event like this that is a bit different.”

Americans Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto finished first in the original dance with 64.27 points, followed by Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who had 60.98 points.

Japan’s Mao Asada was first in the women’s short program, scoring 75.84 points to finish comfortably ahead of world silver medalist Joannie Rochette of Canada, who received 62.08 points.

Americans Caroline Zhang and Rachael Flatt were fourth and fifth, respectively.

The inaugural ISU World Team Trophy features the six best figure skating teams of the 2008-09 season. Qualifying along with the United States, Japan and Canada were Russia, France and China.

Lysacek, skating to “Bolero,” opened with a triple axel followed by a triple lutz-triple toe loop combination, and successfully completed the rest of his elements to finish with a season-best score. Yet it wasn’t enough to catch Joubert, who was third at the world championships, and, naturally, was pleased with his short program.

“It was great,” Joubert said. “As far as the choreography and the skating go, this was my best short program.”

World silver medalist Patrick Chan of Canada struggled, falling on his opening triple axel and on a triple lutz and was a disappointing ninth in the men’s standings.

“Practices weren’t going well because my legs are tired,” Chan said. “But there is no excuse. I still should have skated better and I should have a better mental preparation.”

The three-day event continues Friday with the men’s free skate, the pairs short program and the ice dance free program.

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