John Misha Petkevich '71, a favorite for the world men's figure skating title, found himself a disappointing fifth as the championships completed their first day in Lyons, France.
European champion Ondrej Nepala of Czechoslovakia, whose specialty is the compulsory school figures, which began today, took the lead. Patrick Pera of Lyons was second.
Yesterday's events consisted of the first four of six figures. The last two, the most important and most heavily weighted, will be completed tomorrow. The free skating, Petkevich's specialty, will be held Thursday and counts 50 per cent of the skaters' total scores.
Last year Petkevich beat Nepala in the free skating and finished second to champion Tim Wood for a fifth place overall.
Petkevich is currently far behind and needs sensational performances in tomorrow's figures and the free skating to catch up.
In the draw for the skating order, Petkevich pulled out number six.
He skated ahead of all his most important contenders in the school figures. This was considered a disadvantage since the judges do not have a basis for comparison in awarding points so early in the competition.
Petkevich was hampered by an ankle injury sustained in a fall on his last jump in the Nationals. His coach, with a few lessons from the Harvard trainers, is taping the ankle.
"His confidence did not suffer too badly," his mother said last night. "He-and the rest of the Americans-were disappointed, but he realized there's still a lot of skating ahead."
The other two Americans, Kenneth Shelley and Gordie McKellen, were ninth and fifteenth respectively. In the dance couples competition Judy Schwomeyer and Jim Sladsky of the U. S. were tied for second behind the Russians.