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Sports Pulse: USA TODAY Sports reporter Rachel Axon breaks down the IOC’s decision to ban Russia from the Winter Olympics.
USA TODAY Sports

NAGOYA, Japan – Nathan Chen finished first in the men’s short program at the Grand Prix Final on Thursday, the last major international competition before the Pyeongchang Olympics.

Skating to “Nemesis,” the American opened with a quad lutz, triple toe loop combination and added a quad flip and a triple axel for 103.32 points.

“I made a couple of mistakes on the landing of both quads,” Chen said. “But the triple axel was improved from Skate America so I am happy with that and looking forward to tomorrow.”

Japanese skater Shoma Uno fell on the landing of a triple axel and was second with 101.51 points, followed by Mikhail Kolyada of Russia with 99.22.

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“I made a mistake with the triple axel which was unexpected,” Uno said. “But I’m confident I will be able to land it cleanly the next time I attempt it.”

With two months to go before the Pyeongchang Games, Chen said he is pleased with the progress he has made this season.

“I’ve had to push the technical elements,” Chen said. “Sometimes it has worked, sometimes it hasn’t. But I definitely don’t regret trying. Putting the flip in the second part of my short program has worked for me so far.”

Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu is still recovering from a leg injury sustained during practice at last month’s NHK Trophy and is not competing.

In pairs, Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot of Germany finished first with 79.43 points. European champions Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov of…