Weir captures short program

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Johnny Weir won this round.

Weir edged Evan Lysacek last night in the short program at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. Weir scored 83.40 points, and Lysacek had 82.05. Stephen Carriere, last year's world junior champ, was third with 76.66. Geoffry Varner, who trains in Newark, Del., was ninth, at 65.40.

The free skate is tomorrow.

Weir didn't have his usual pizazz, looking very deliberate and determined as he checked off one required element after another. His triple lutz-triple toe loop combination was done with ease and control, and he was one of the few competitors who not only landed a triple axel, but did a nice one.

His footwork was light and a perfect match for the music, and he had a nice touch at the end, tapping an imaginary key as the last piano note sounded.

"I was happy with the performance I put out today," Weir said.

Lysacek looked relieved more than anything when he finished.

"I'm very happy with that," he said. "The short program for me is always so stressful, so I'll take it."

In the junior pairs free skate, Meg Byrne, of Blue Bell, and Nathan Bartholomay, of Newtown, Pa., finished fifth; Rachel DeRita, of Horsham, and Brandon Accardi, of Sewell, Pa., finished 11th. *