Kavaguti-Smirnov lead Trophee Bompard pairs

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Yuko Kavaguti, left, and Alexander Smirnov, right, of Russia, perform in the pairs short program at the ISU Figure Skating Eric Bompard Trophy, at Bercy arena in Paris, Friday, Nov. 16, 2012. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)


PARIS (AP) — American skater Jeremy Abbott coped with a bad back to take the lead in the men's short program in his first appearance at the Trophee Bompard on Friday, pulling ahead of Japan's Takahito Mura and France's Brian Joubert.

Abbott nailed all of his jumps in a restricted program to take a score of 81.18 points into Saturday's free skating program.

"After Skate of America I'm very happy to be in this position. It's been a bit of a struggle with my back," Abbott said. "I'm not at 100 percent but I was very happy with my performance. We had to scale (my short program) back a bit."

Abbott was fifth at Skate America in October after falling twice, and said the back problem affects the nerve endings in his leg, making it even more grueling to compete in Saturday's longer exercise.

"Tomorrow, if I make it through the long I'll be very happy," Abbott said.

Mura's only blemish was on his opening quad toeloop-triple toeloop jump and he earned a score of 76.65, while Joubert tallied 75.46.

"I'm surprised to be sitting in second place, I did what I could," said Mura, whose only blemish was on his opening quad toeloop-triple toeloop jump. "I put my hands down on the quad and didn't have enough speed on the step sequence."

Earlier, Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov of Russia finished first in the pairs short with 66.78 points, taking advantage of a wobbly performance from Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, who scored 62.28.

Duhamel and Radford were silver medalists at Skate Canada in October and are hoping to qualify for the season-ending Grand Prix finals in Sochi, Russia, next month. Duhamel fell on a landing after poorly executing a triple lutz.

"Eric and I are very disappointed with how we skated, we're never happy to fall. Tomorrow I assure you we will be perfect," Duhamel said. "This jump has been going so well for in the last few months that maybe I was too relaxed. It's not really a technical thing."

The Russians are well placed and only need to finish on the podium in Paris to qualify for Sochi.

The Trophee Bompard is the fifth of six events. Later Friday were the women's short program and ice dance.