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Japan's Takahito Mura leads Four Continents championships after short program

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TAIPEI, Taiwan - A sparkling performance by Japan's Takahito Mura in the men's short program gave him the lead in the Four Continents figure skating championships on Wednesday.

A perfectly executed quadruple toe-loop jump and triple lutz plus triple toe-loop jump earned him a top points score of 84.21, edging out Richard Dornbush of the United States with 82.13.

China's Nan Song was in third place with 78.71.

Mura's display, which brought him a new personal best in the short program, followed a lacklustre 2013 that ended with a sixth place finish at the Japanese nationals.

"Throughout the whole season my performances were not accurate," Mura said. "To see the score today made me really happy."

Dornbush also produced a stellar performance but a slight stumble on his quadruple salchow — blamed on a skate blade catching his pant leg — cost him precious points in a close contest.

Denis Ten of Kazakhstan, a pre-championship favourite for the men's title, tumbled on a quadruple toe-loop jump that left him trailing in fifth place with 76.34.

In the pairs short program, China's Wenjing Sui and Cong Han took an early lead over three American pairs with a commanding score of 75.26.

Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim were closest with 66.04, followed by Tarah Kayne and Daniel O'Shea on 62.05 and Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier with 58.57.

Canadian duo Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier took a narrow lead in the ice dance short program with 62.38.

Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue of the United States were lying second with 61.05, with fellow Americans Alexandra Aldridge and Daniel Eaton in third on 57.65.

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