US Olympian Zhou struggles at International Classic

              Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, of the of United States, skate during the ice dance practice at the U.S. International Figure Skating Classic, Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Canada’s Nam Nguyen led after the short program Thursday night at the International Figure Skating Classic as the top Americans had disappointing showings.

Nam scored 80.28 points and was followed by the Czech Republic’s Michal Brezina (79.57) and Yaroslav Paniotor of Ukraine (74.97). American Jimmy Ma was fourth and U.S. Olympian Vincent Zhou struggled to wind up sixth.

Zhou fell on his opening quad jump.

“It’s exciting to be competing again and showing new programs,” Zhou said. “I feel like my artistic development has been aided greatly by my new choreographer, Lori Nichol. I have been working hard on developing as a skater, not just as a jumper. The jumps weren’t really there today, but I think the performance was good and I gave it my best effort, as I always do. I’m just starting my season, so hopefully tomorrow goes better.”

Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc of the United States led the pairs field after the first day of competition.

The duo scored 59.10 points in their jive short program, in which they landed their side-by-side triple loops early in the program.

“It’s early in the season, but we’ve worked really hard this offseason to be ready to do everything that we want to do,” LeDuc said. “We want to be U.S. champions, we want to get the two spots back for Team USA at worlds. This is right where we need to be on that trajectory. We made some little mistakes, but this is the place to do that. Each time we perform we feel stronger and better connected.”

Audrey Lu and Misha Mitrofanov, the national junior champions, were in second place after a strong senior international debut. The pair scored 57.25 points in their short program set to “Masquerade Waltz.” They gained early momentum with a throw triple loop and also landed their side-by-side triple salchows.

The Australian duo of Ekaterina Alexandrovskaya and Harley Windsor rounded out the top three after earning 55.79 points.

On Friday, the women’s and ice dance competitions featuring U.S. champs Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, will begin, and will be followed by the pairs and men’s free skates.