Japans Mao Asada wins womens title at Four Continents
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OSAKA, Japan — Two-time world champion Mao Asada won the women's figure skating crown at Four Continents on Sunday, leading a Japanese sweep.
After reintroducing her trademark triple axel in Saturday's short program, Asada was downgraded on the jump in Sunday's free skate but was solid in her other elements to finish with 205.45 points. Akiko Suzuki was second with 190.08 points while Kanako Murakami finished third with 181.03.
Christina Gao of the United States finished fourth while Li Zijun of China was fifth.
"The short program exceeded expectations and the free met my expectations," said Asada, who skated to Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake." "I am happy I was able to challenge the triple axel and that has given me confidence."
Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford won the pairs event, with U.S. champions Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir third.
In the ice dance final, world silver medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the U.S. won the gold medal. Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates were third.
Asada had been struggling with the triple axel since the Vancouver Olympics but was able to win four events this season without it. She pulled it off to perfection Saturday when she finished first in the short program. Despite being downgraded on the jump Sunday, Asada plans to attempt it at the world championships in London, Ontario, next month, hoping to "build on the success I've had here."
The Four Continents is the last major event before the March 11-17 worlds, where Asada will renew her rivalry with South Korean skater Kim Yu-na.
Suzuki, who was second after the short program, turned in a strong performance to music from Cirque du Soleil. She under-rotated a double axel on her second element and was deducted points on a triple Lutz but was solid otherwise to hold on to second place ahead of Murakami, who won her first medal at a senior International Skating Union event.
Murakami was downgraded on a triple flip earlier in her routine but had no major mistakes in the free skate.
"I missed out on a podium at last year's Four Continents because of a poor free skate so I was thinking about that today," Murakami said. "It's great to see a Japanese sweep of the podium.
In pairs, Duhamel and Radford won with 199.18 points, edging compatriots Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch, who finished with 196.78. Moore-Towers and Moscovitch won Sunday's free skate but couldn't overtake Duhamel and Radford, who built a lead in winning the short program. Castelli and Shnapir were third with 170.10 points.
In the ice dance final, Davis and White finished with 187.36 points, beating world champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada, who had 184.32. Chock and Bates were third with 160.42.
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