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Canada’s Stellato-Dudek, Deschamps sit 2nd in pairs at Grand Prix Final

Canada’s Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps stard competition at the figure skating Grand Prix Final with a strong performance on Thursday in Beijing.

The duo sits second after the pairs short program with 71.22 points, trailing only Germany’s Minerva Fabienne Hase and Nikita Volodin at 72.56.

Stellato-Dudek, the 40-year-old who lives in Brossard, Que., and Deschamps, the 32-year-old from Vaudreuil-Dorion, Que., earned each of their stops during the Grand Prix season to qualify for the Final in China.

The Canadians are skating their short program this season to the song Oxygène by France’s Jean-Michel Jarre.

Canada’s Lia Pereira and Trennt Michaud (61.78) are sixth of six pairs entries.

In men’s competition, Ilia Malinin had no intention of trying to land the quadruple axel, the most challenging jump in figure skating, while the 19-year-old American sensation was trying to qualify for the Finals.

Once he took the ice Thursday for the marquee conclusion to the season, all bets were off.

Not only did Malinin cleanly land the four-and-a-half revolution jump, which had never been done in a short program, the first skater to land it in competition last year kept piling up points. He added a quad lutz-triple toe loop combination along with a clean triple axel to post a score of 106.90 points, the best total of his international career.

“After Grand Prix France, it was an idea of mine for a long time — I mean, since the start of the season,” said Malinin, who earned the bronze medal at the Grand Prix Finals last year. “I think that at Skate America, without the triple axel getting those points, it really helped me set the base for my motivation and my confidence to try to include it.”

That jump, which originally wasn’t recognized by computerized scoring because it had never been attempted in a short program, proved to be the difference in taking the lead into the free skate. Malinin edged two-time world champion Shoma Uno, who had 106.02 points after landing two quads of his own, and Yuma Kagiyama of Japan, who scored 103.72.

There were once again no Russian skaters at the Grand Prix Final, held at the National Indoor Stadium in Beijing, because of its ongoing war with Ukraine. They have not competed in international competition since after the 2022 Winter Olympics.

No Canadians reached the men’s Final either.

Canada also boasts three teams in the ice dance competition, including defending title-holders Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier.

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