Ice Network

Back in style: Asada sets pace in ladies short

Fernández in front; Sui, Han sit first; Cappellini, Lanotte lead dance
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Returning to competition after sitting out a year, Mao Asada showed very little rust from the long layoff, skating the most technically challenging program of the day. Her playful and seductive short to the Yiddish song "Bei mir bist du schoen" garnered 71.73 points for the Japanese three-time world champion, and she will take a six-point lead into the free skate. -Getty Images

The 2015 Cup of China opened Friday, with each discipline getting underway in Beijing.


Making her much-anticipated return, Japan's Mao Asada topped the ladies short ahead of teammate Rika Hongo. Team USA's Courtney Hicks sits third.

Asada opened her performance with a triple axel and also hit a triple lutz and two Level 4 spins. Only the back end of the triple flip-triple loop combination was under-rotated. The three-time world champion scored 71.73 points in her first competitive short program since the 2014 World Championships.

"This is my first Grand Prix competition since I came back," she said. "I'm trying to do more difficult elements. I want to be higher and I've trained hard for that. I think today's performance will be a good motivation for tomorrow."

Hongo's routine included a triple flip-triple toe combination, a triple lutz and three Level 4 spins. The 2015 Four Continents bronze medalist picked up 65.79 points, slightly surpassing her previous personal-best score.

"I felt really nervous today, but I attacked everything in my performance," Hongo said.

Skating to "The Feeling Begins" by Peter Gabriel, Hicks produced a triple flip-double toe and triple lutz to earn 62.38 points, a new personal-best score.

"I was very happy with my performance," Hicks said. "It was definitely the best I've ever done in an international [event]. A lot of times, I have a kind of a bad short and really good long. So I'm looking forward to having a good short and then a good long together."

Russia's Anna Pogorilaya is in fourth (61.47 points), and China's Zijun Li is fifth (58.62 points). Russia's Elena Radionova singled her axel and came sixth with 58.51 points.


Javier Fernández skated to the lead in the men's short program. Boyang Jin of China is in second, and Sergei Voronov of Russia sits third.

Fernández nailed a quad salchow (two-footed), triple Lutz-triple toe and a triple axel in his program to "Malagueña." His spins merited a Level 4 and the world champion collected 93.19 points. 

"This is my first time I performed this short program in competition, and it was a good start," 
Fernández said. "I made a mistake on the quad salchow; I two-footed it. There are some things we have to work on. The step sequence got Level 3 and not a Level 4."

Jin's routine to "Tango Amore" by Edvin Marton was highlighted by a huge quadruple lutz-triple toe combination and a quadruple toe. The world junior silver medalist improved his personal-best score significantly, as he came away with 90.05 points. 

"I am competing in my first senior-level Grand Prix and I was nervous," Jin said. "But I showed my level today. My technical difficulty is quite high, but I want to improve my spins and skating skills.".

Voronov two-footed and under-rotated the first jump in his quad toe-triple toe combination. He landed a triple axel and triple loop in his program to "Butterflies and Hurricanes" by Muse. The reigning European bronze medalist earned 80.99 points. 

"Compared to Finlandia Trophy, I made step forward," Voronov said. "Not everything worked out; I made an error on the combination, but I fought for each element and I got some positive (Grades of Execution)."

China's Nan Song sits fourth with 76.46 points, followed by Team USA's Grant Hochstein with 74.27 points.


China's Wenjing Sui and Cong Han lead in pairs, with Russia's
 Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov are currently second, ahead of Xiaoyu Yu and Yang Jin of China.

Sui and Han's Spanish themed routine featured a throw triple flip, triple twist and two Level 4 elements. The only error was her wobble on the side-by-side triple toes. The world silver medalists came away with 74.40 points. 

"It was good, but there was a little error on the side-by-side jump," Sui said. "But we showed our level today and hopefully we'll be able to do our best in the free skate tomorrow."

Skating to "I Finally Found Someone," Kavaguti and Smirnov produced a triple toe, throw triple loop and picked up a Level 4 on four elements to earn 72.45 points. 

"We're very happy with our performance and with the levels we got for our elements," Smirnov said. "Yuka's skating today was beautiful and musical, but I feel that I could have interpreted the choreography better."

Yu and Jin turned in a strong performance, landing side-by-side triple toes and a throw triple loop. The two-time world junior champions set a new personal-best short program score with 70.06 points. 

"We had some problems in training with some elements, but we were able to adjust before the competition and therefore we had a good performace," Jin said.

Ice dance

Italy's Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte of Italy opened up a narrow lead over Team USA's Madison Chock and Evan Bates.
Elena Ilinykh and Ruslan Zhiganshin of Russia are in third.

Dancing to a waltz and polka from The Merry Widow, Cappellini and Lanotte produced Level 4 twizzles and a Level 4 rotational lift. The 2014 world champions collected a Level 3 for the waltz pattern and the partial step sequence to score 66.39 points.

"It was an unexpected, quite bad fall in the warmup; we both hit our heads,"
Cappellini said. "We feel it really affected our performance, which was clean, but way below what we could have put out there. We relied on the training and were able to get through it."

Chock and Bates' dance to "More" by Andrea Bocelli and "Unchained Melody" by Il Divo included a Level 4 curve lift and Level 3 steps, but the twizzles only received Level 1. The world silver medalists earned 65.36 points.

"I had a little bit of a mishap on my twizzles, which was a really costly error, especially in the short dance," Chock said. "But this is a great program for us and I feel it has grown a lot over the past couple of weeks."

Ilinykh and Zhiganshin earned Level 4 for their twizzles and rotational lift and Level 3 for the waltz and the step sequence in their performance to "We Will Rock You" by Queen. They received 63.54 points.

"It is always exciting to be at the Grand Prix. We did a good job and had a good technical part," Ilinykh said.

Team USA's Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker sit in fourth with 58.35 points followed by Slovakia's Federica Testa and Lukáš Csölley with 53.90 points.