Nathan Chen earned 90.58 points at the ISU Skate America (Lindsey Wasson)

Everett (United States) (AFP) – Defending champ Nathan Chen, who is back competing for the first time since being crowned world champion, seized the early lead after the men’s short programme at the ISU Skate America on Friday.

Chen earned 90.58 points to finish well ahead of Czech Michal Brezina and Julian Yee of Malaysia, who is third with 81.52 points.

Chen, of the US, attempted one quadruple jump on Friday and wobbled out of a couple other jumps, including a quad flip to lead by 8.49 points.

But he takes a substantial lead into Saturday’s free skate against a mainly inexperienced field at the Angels of The Winds arena in Everett, just outside of Seattle, Washington,

Chen bounced back from finishing fifth at the PyeongChang Olympics to win the world title seven months ago by the largest margin in history.

Chen, who is trying to become the first to win consecutive US Skate America titles since Timothy Goebel in 2001, is the lone skater in his category to have won a World or Olympic medal.

Russian Sergei Voronov sits fourth with 78.18 points while 2018 world junior bronze medallist Matteo Rizzo of Italy rounds out the top five at 78.09.

Two-time European champions Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov lead the pairs competition after the short programme with 71.24 points.

Their Russia compatriots Alisa Efimova and Alexander Korovin are in second with 62.38 points.

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