Men begin with a record night

BOSTON — Three-time winner Jeremy Abbott set a national points record for the men's short program Friday night at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, putting his second Olympic berth within reach.

Abbott won with 99.86 points, bettering the record of 92.04 set by Richard Dornbush earlier in the evening. Dornbush, who broke the record of 90.23 set by Abbott, is second heading into Sunday's free skate.

"Considering my previous high was 90, I'm pretty darn happy," Abbott, 28, said. "I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks.

"I had this flood of emotion: excitement, fear, dread, passion. … I freakin' love figure skating."

Jason Brown was third with 87.47 points. Defending champ Max Aaron was fourth.

The United States can send two men to next month's Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The championships are the last qualifying event for the Games. The United States will name its team Sunday.

Abbott was the 2010 champ but finished ninth at those Olympics as countryman Evan Lysacek won gold. Lysacek isn't competing because of injuries.

In the ice dancing short program, five-time defending champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White broke their U.S. scoring record for the short program with 80.69 points to open a big lead.

"This is the fifth time we're competing the program (to music from My Fair Lady)," Davis said. "It's all about being comfortable enough to let things happen naturally, and when you reach a point where it can be just fun, that's what we really enjoy about skating."

Davis and White — the 2010 Olympic silver medalists and who haven't lost anywhere in almost two years — are more than seven points ahead of Madison Chock and Evan Bates, last year's runnersup, who posted a career-high 73.41 points. Chock fell in practice Wednesday, crashing hard into the boards, but she said she was fine other than a little shoulder soreness.

Siblings Maia and Alex Shibutani, the 2011 world bronze medalists, were third with 68.00 points to complete a repeat of the final 2013 U.S. standings.

The free dance is today.

The top three dance teams make the Olympics, and not only are Davis and White locks to be among them, they are considered the Americans' only serious medal contender among all four skating disciplines.

"Because we put pressure on ourselves throughout our career, it's kind of a healthy pressure," White said. "It's what gets us through the tough times, that we rely on each other."

Men begin with a record night 01/10/14 [Last modified: Saturday, January 11, 2014 12:15am]

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