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Figure skating: With Lysacek sidelined, Max Aaron leads at U.S. Classic
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Max Aaron wishes Evan Lysacek could have skated as scheduled this week, even if the Olympic champion may have made Aaron's defense of the men's title in the U.S. International Figure Skating Classic much more difficult.

"I'm competing against myself as always, but having Evan here would have been for me kind of a dream come true, because I always wanted to compete with Evan and have my name called along with his name," Aaron said Thursday night. "He's been an idol for a long time."

Lysacek withdrew from his intended return to skating with an abdominal injury. His absence leaves Aaron, the reigning U.S. champion, as the favorite to repeat as the winner of an event that leads into the Grand Prix schedule. Aaron's short program score of 81.49 gave him the lead over American skater Stephen Carrier (77.48) going into Friday night's finals at the Salt Lake City Sports Complex.

Known as a jumper, the 21-year-old Aaron is trying to improve his performance skills and become a more complete skater. "I'm here to figure out what I need to do to compete with this new program," he said, while hoping to "capture everyone's attention."

In the pairs competition, Canada's Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch appear dominant. Having won this event last year and finished fourth in the 2013 World Championships, the Canadians posted a 68.52 score to lead U.S. teams Marissa Castelli/Simon Shnapir (62.26) and Caydee Denney/John Coughlin (61.66).

Moore-Towers cited "a couple of stupid, silly things" as flaws in their program, but she considers the program on track. "We're here to build for our Grand Prix [schedule] and the rest of our season."

Castelli described the skating of the Canadians as "great motivation" for the two American pairs, who have claimed the last two U.S. titles. Just competing in an international event again was an advancement for Coughlin, who's coming back from hip surgery after missing most of the 2012-13 season.

"It matters a lot to us," Coughlin said, pointing out that representing his country makes any competition more meaningful than just skating for a home club.

The short programs in the dance and ladies events will be staged Friday afternoon, followed by the finals of the pairs and men's competition. —

In short

R With Evan Lysacek sidelined with an abdominal injury, reigning U.S. champion Max Aaron leads the short program with a score of 81.49 heading into Friday night's final at the U.S. International Figure Skating Classic.

He leads comfortably heading into final round, with Olympic champ Lysacek out.
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