Keegan Messing misses podium, but captivates roaring audience at Finlandia Trophy

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Keegan Messing of Canada, pictured at the 2021 World Figure Skating Championships, skated to fourth place on Friday at the Finlandia Trophy.  ( Linnea Rheborg/Getty Images - image credit)
Keegan Messing of Canada, pictured at the 2021 World Figure Skating Championships, skated to fourth place on Friday at the Finlandia Trophy. ( Linnea Rheborg/Getty Images - image credit)

Canada's Keegan Messing just missed the podium at the Finlandia Trophy event on Friday in his first international competition of the season.

Though Messing headed into the free skate in first, he ended in fourth with a total score of 242.58. The 29-year-old had a pair of falls and had a surprise tumble mid-ice, standing in contrast to a spectacular quad toe and triple Lutz to open the program.

After finishing his performance, Messing smiled and shrugged on the ice as those in the arena roared their support. His energized skate to 'Home' by Phillip Phillips captivated the audience in Espoo, Finland, who clapped the entire way through his program.

"This event had its high and lows but it's a great steppingstone for the rest of the season,'' he said. "It's great motivation to remember who's out there and face everything head-on."

American Jason Brown, who delivered gorgeous artistry across his performances, took gold with 262.52. Mikhail Kolyada of Russia won silver (256.98) and his teammate Dmitri Aliev (249.25) won bronze.

A short program tie-breaker

Messing and Brown both performed exciting short programs, leading to a tie at 92.32 points a piece. But it was Messing who had the top spot heading into the free after edging out the American with a superior technical score by 1.8 points.

The Canadian opened his short with a quad toe-double toe combination, securing the landing with the deepest of knee bends after his first jump. A triple Axel and triple Lutz rounded out his 'Never Tear Us Apart' program.

Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images
Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Brown, who trains out of the Toronto Cricket Club, was ahead by 1.8 in the program components score. Despite a fall on a triple axel in his free skate, the remainder of his elements and fabulous skating skills set him apart.

Italian Matteo Rizzo had the top-scoring free skate, rocketing up the standings from 19th to sixth.

Messing, who enters competition as a new dad, finished off his last season by placing sixth at the world championships in Stockholm, Sweden, earning Canada its first Olympic spot in men's singles for 2022 and giving the country the chance to win another.

Competitor Roman Sadovsky confirmed that second Olympic spot after finishing eighth at the Nebelhorn Trophy event in September.

Canadians earn 5th and 8th in pairs

New Canadian pairs team Vanessa James and Eric Radford also got another competition under their belt, finishing in fifth place with a total of 190.58.

"Some great steps in terms of growth which will helps us for the rest of the season,'' said Radford from Balmertown, Ont. "Still this was a disappointment because we've been skating better than that in practice. But we are on the right path and that's the most important thing.''

Their score was less than three points off the bronze-medal American duo of Ashley Cain-Gribble and Timothy Leduc. Meanwhile, Russian pairs filled the top two spots of the podium, with Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov earning gold with 227.13 and Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov taking silver with 213.72.

Canadians Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro, who earned sixth at worlds last season, finished in eighth place with 184.37.

"It was nowhere where we wanted in either program,'' said Marinaro, 29, from Sarnia, Ont. ''But we have some key things to learn from and work on from home.''

"We just need to compete more,'' added Moore-Towers, 29, from St. Catharines, Ont. "We're excited to have a full season of competitions in which we can learn and take the good and bad from each competition to grow and better ourselves so we can be ready for the second half when we hope to peak.''

The Finlandia Trophy is the fourth competition of the challenger series, which precedes the Grand Prix circuit.

The first of that series, Skate America, gets underway the week of Oct. 22.

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