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Figure skating: Chan, Wagner lead way in Paris

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Three-time world champion Patrick Chan warmed up for his Olympic challenge with a record-breaking performance as American Ashley Wagner led the women's event at the Trophee Bompard figure skating Grand Prix in Paris on Friday.

Chan, 22, scored a world record 98.52 points for his short programme to Rachmaninov's 'Elegie in E Flat Minor' to put him ahead of Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu (95.37) going into Saturday's free skating final.

Defending champion Wagner stole the show in the women's event with an error-free performance to Pink Floyd's 'Shine on You Crazy Diamond'.

The 22-year-old scored 66.75 to lead Russian teenagers Anna Pogorilaya (60.03) and Adelina Sotnikova (60.01).

"Today's skate was very good, but it's just one step towards the Sochi Olympics," said Chan, who bettered his own previous world best of 98.37 from the world championships earlier this year.

Chan opened with a quad toeloop-triple toeloop combination and nailed his triple axel and triple lutz jumps, but remained cautious despite his stunning skate.

"I was ecstatic with the way I skated but I can't get ahead of myself," said the three-time Paris winner.

"My mission is to win the Sochi Olympics. Today is just a step. Tomorrow if I can skate well it will be another notch in my belt, to give me confidence so that I will feel confident under pressure in Sochi."

Hanyu, second behind Chan at Skate Canada last month, also pulled out a strong performance to achieve a personal best score of 95.37 for his skate to Parisian Walkways by Gary Moore.

"Although it was lower than Patrick's score I'm still happy," said the 18-year-old.

"There were no misses so I'm really happy about that. I'm not thinking about breaking records, I'm not thinking about the Olympic Games, I just want to try and do what I do every day in the rink."

American Jason Brown and China's Yan Han are sitting third and fourth with 84.77 and 84.34 respectively.

Wagner finished second in Skate America and is looking to seal her berth in the elite six-skater Grand Prix Final in Fukuoka, Japan, next month that will serve as a preview of the Olympic contest that will unfold in Sochi in February.

She profitted from errors by Pogorilaya, 15, and Sotnikova, 17, who finished 1-2 respectively at the Cup of China, but admitted it was hard dealing with the pressure of being regarded as a challenger.

"I was happy after China as I was regarded as one of the contenders. Before I was sad because no-one was looking at me, but now it's different," said Pogorilaya.

Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada took a comfortable lead in the ice dance after their short dance to a foxtrot and quickstep routine which earned them 75.31 points.

France's Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat (70.59) and Russia's Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov (69.07) are separated by just 1.52 points in second and third place.

"We made quite a lot of changes since the first Grand Prix and we felt like we came out and executed them well, just like we do it in training," said Moir of their first win at Skate Canada.

"Tessa and I were very happy with our skate today. It was important goal for us at this competition to have a strong short dance."

Earlier Chinese veterans Pang Qing and Tong Jian led the pairs despite a fall in their short programme, in the fifth of the six-leg ISU Grand Prix series.

The top three pairs had tumbles but the former two-time world champions scored highest with 67.69 points as they bid for a first Paris title at the sixth attempt.

Canada's Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford are sitting second (66.07) with Russia's Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov (65.67) third going into Saturday's free skating final.

Tong, 34, blamed jetlag for his fall on his opening triple toeloop and insisted they could bounce back and book a spot in the Grand Prix final.

"Today we had a fall. It's the first time this has happened to us in the short programme. We hope we'll skate clean in tomorrow's free," Olympic silver medallist Tong said.

"It's true we've never won this event. This is our last season. It would be nice to win this event. It's our last time here and we're skating with a bit of nostalgia."

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131116/figure-skating-chan-wagner-lead-way-paris