(October 23, 2009 - MOSCOW, Russia) – Ice dancers Vanessa Crone of Aurora, Ont., and Paul Poirier of Unionville, Ont., are off to a strong start at the second stop on the ISU Grand Prix figure skating circuit as they stand in fourth place after Friday’s compulsory dance and original dance.

Crone and Poirier, aged 18 and 17 respectively and already in their second season on the circuit, scored 29.94 points in the morning compulsory dance and 48.45 in the evening original dance for 78.39 total.

Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the U.S., fourth at last season’s world championships, lead at 100.08. Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte of Italy are second at 85.31 and Ekaterina Rubleva and Ivan Shefer of Russia third at 81.25.

Crone and Poirier made an impressive debut last season at the senior international level earning silver at HomeSense Skate Canada International and fourth at the Paris Grand Prix stop. They were 12th in their world championship debut this past March and are the 2008 world junior silver medallists.

In a very close women’s singles competition, Amélie Lacoste, of Delson, Que., is seventh but still in the medal mix after the short program. Julia Sebestyen leads a field in which there are less than seven points separating the top eight skaters.

Sebestyen scored 57.94, Alissa Czisny of the U.S., is second at 57.64 and Miki Ando of Japan third at 57.18.  Lacoste, fourth at the Four Continents meet last season and third at nationals, posted a personal best 51.82 score.

In pairs, Mylène Brodeur, of Stanbridge-Station, Que., and John Mattatall, of Wallace, N.S., are seventh after the short program. Qing Pang and Jian Tong of China, the 2006 world champions, lead the competition with a score of 65.40.  Brodeur and Mattatal capped last season with a 10th place finish at the world championships.

The men’s singles short program marked the return of Olympic champion Evgeni Plushenko of Russia and he leads at 82.25 points. It was his first international competition since his golden performance in Turin.

Shawn Sawyer, of Edmundston, N.B., stands eighth. This is the third time in his career Sawyer has competed at the Grand Prix stop in Russia. Last year he was fifth in both his Grand Prix appearances in the U.S., and Canada.

For more information visit: www.isu.org

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