Asada skates to third Grand Prix final gold
SOCHI, Russia (AFP) –
Japan’s Mao Asada blew away her rivals to claim a third ISU Grand Prix figure skating series final title on the ice which will stage the 2014 Winter Olympic Games here on Saturday.
The 22-year-old Olympic silver medallist received a season’s best 129.84 points for her “Swan Lake” free skate for an overall 196.80 points to take the gold by a comfortable 14.87 margin on US champion Ashley Wagner.
“I am happy that I was able to skate everything,” said Asada, a former two-time world champion, after competing at the Iceberg arena in Russia’s southern resort city Sochi, the host city for the 2014 Winter Games.
“I’m relieved because I had some problems during the season, having not enough speed for my long programme and other things that needed to improve.
“Today I was able to get proper elements I was looking for. I will work hard for my next competition.”
Asada reclaims the Grand Prix final title that she previously won in 2005 and 2008.
Mistakes cost Wagner, who was just 0.52 behind Asada after short programme, as she scored just fourth highest for her free programme, but managed to keep her runner-up spot collecting 181.93 points overall.
Another Japanese skater Akiko Suzuki, the world bronze medallist, finished third with 180.77 points to take bronze ahead of Kiira Korpi, the first Finnish girl in the finals.
Russia’s 15-year-old Elizaveta Tuktamysheva pulled out a strong free skate for which she scored the second highest points but failed to lift herself up from fifth. Another American skater Christina Gao finished sixth.
Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White, the 2011 world champions, held their overnight lead to win the ice dancing title.
The 2010 Olympic runners-up received a season’s best 110.19 points for their “Notre Dame de Paris” free dance to collect 183.39 points overall.
The Americans finished 3.56 ahead of Canada’s reigning Olympic and world champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who also earned their season’s best 108.56 points for their “Carmen Suite” free dance.
France’s Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat won bronze.
In the men’s event, former world champion Daisuke Takahashi is leading two-time reigning world champion Patrick Chan of Canada and fellow Japanese skater Yuzuru Hanyu going into the free skating final.