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Japanese turn on the style in Shanghai

SHANGHAI (AFP) –

Mao Asada of Japan

Mao Asada of Japan performs her routine in the ladies free skating program during the Cup of China in Shanghai.

Japan dominated the singles categories at the Cup of China on Saturday, clinching both men and women’s titles in a tournament they had considered pulling out of due to safety concerns.

Two-time women’s world champion Mao Asada took the women’s title after going into the second day of competition trailing Russian world junior champion Julia Lipnitskaia, who was making her Grand Prix debut.

In the men’s category, Tatsuki Machida overturned Daisuke Takahashi’s lead from Friday to clinch the title with 236.92 points, 5.17 better than his compatriot.

Japan’s Skating Federation only decided on Sunday to take part in the event following concerns of simmering anti-Japan sentiment in the host country over a long-running territorial row between Beijing and Tokyo.

Tatsuki Machida of Japan

Tatsuki Machida of Japan performs his routine in the mens rree skating program during the Cup of China in Shanghai.

Athletes have pulled out of several sporting events in both countries due to safety concerns.

In the pairs category, China’s Olympic silver medalists Pang Qing and Tong Jian claimed the title in front of a passionate home crowd.

The pair entered the event as strong favourites despite withdrawing from international competition last year.

European champions and top seeds Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat took the ice dance title after leading on Friday. Russians Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev were in second.

The Cup of China is the third of six events in the Grand Prix series.

This year’s International Skating Union final will be held at the venue selected for the 2014 Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi.

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