Ice Network

Asada takes ladies title in return to Grand Prix

Fernández tops men; Kavaguti, Smirnov win gold; Cappellini, Lanotte first
  • Ice Network on Facebook
  • Ice Network on Twitter
After starting off her program with a picture-perfect triple axel, Mao Asada hit some rough patches during the rest of her 'Madame Butterfly' free skate. The Olympic silver medalist placed just third in the segment with 125.75 points but still managed to take home the gold over countrywoman Rika Hongo in her first competitive appearance since winning worlds in 2014. -Getty Images

Competition concluded Saturday at the 2015 Cup of China, as Japan's Mao Asada took gold in her return to the Grand Prix.

Ladies

Asada won gold in her first Grand Prix following her year off from competition. Japan's Rika Hongo claimed the silver medal and Russia's Elena Radionova rose from sixth place after the short program to take bronze.

Asada opened her Madame Butterfly free with a big triple axel and landed three clean triples, but made some errors on other jumps. The three-time world champion finished third in the free skate with 125.75 points, but she held on to first place with an overall score 197.48.

"I am not satisfied with my free skating today as I didn't do all elements," Asada said. "I have some problems to solve. I won thanks to my short program, but it doesn't satisfy me to have won this way."

Hongo's routine to "Riverdance" featured a triple flip-triple toe combination and five triple jumps, as well as three Level 4 spins. The 2015 Four Continents bronze medalist turned in the day's top free skate with a new personal-best score of 129.97 points for a 195.76 total.

"I felt very happy at the end of my program, because I gave my best performance. I didn't pay so much attention to my ranking", Hongo said.

Skating to music from the Titanic soundtrack, Radionova landed five clean triples, including a triple lutz-triple toe combination, but fell on a triple lutz. The 2015 European silver medalist picked up 125.77 points and moved up from sixth after the short program to third with a total 184.28 points.

"It was not my best skate, but I am very pleased with my result after everything I've been through," Radionova said. "My coach fell sick and was hospitalized the day before our departure. So she couldn't come here and I felt completely lost at first."

Russia's Anna Pogorilaya placed fourth place with 184.16 points and Team USA's Karen Chen finished fifth with 175.93 points. American Courtney Hicks, who stood in third after the short program, dropped to sixth after finishing with 166.00 points.

Men's

Spain's Javier Fernández struck gold in Beijing. China's Boyang Jin and Han Yan came in second and third, respectively.

Fernández nailed a quadruple toe, a somewhat shaky quadruple salchow-double toe combination as well as five triples, but he missed his third quad, another salchow in his Guys and Dolls free. The world champion picked up 177.36 points and collected 270.55 points overall. 

"I felt good at the Grand Prix in China," Fernández said. "It is an important goal for me to go to the Grand Prix Final and I have to do one more step to be there. I will keep practicing; every day I improve and I will learn from this competition. It was a good day, with mistakes, and hopefully at my next Grand Prix I can perform a clean program."

Jin's performance to "Dragon Racing" was highlighted by a huge quadruple lutz, but he made errors on his other three quads. He completed six triple jumps. The 2015 world junior silver medalist scored 171.18 points and came away with 261.23 points overall to win the silver in his Grand Prix debut.

"It was a tough program with the four quads, and only one of them was good," Jin said. "I still have to work on the quads and I also need to improve my program components."

Yan produced six triples in his Romeo and Juliet free but stepped out of his quad toe. The 2015 Four Continents bronze medalist scored 156.36 points and moved up from sixth after the short program to third overall with 230.33 points. 

"I didn't have the most difficult content in my program today, but I still made mistakes," Yan said. "It wasn't my best today and I made the podium only because others made more mistakes than me."

American Grant Hochstein finished fourth with 222.74 points and Russia's Sergei Voronov slipped from third after the short to fifth with 222.17 points.

Pairs

Russia's Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov topped the pairs field. Chinese teams Wenjing Sui and Cong Han, and Xiaoyu Yu and Yang Jin, earned the silver and bronze medals, respectively.

Kavaguti and Smirnov's dramatic performance to the "Manfred Symphony" by Tchaikovsky was highlighted by side-by-side triple toes, a throw quadruple salchow and difficult lifts. The Russians included a quadruple throw loop into their program, but Kavaguti landed on two feet. The reigning European champions came away with a personal-best free skate with 143.55 points and a personal-best overall score of 216.00 points to overtake short dance winners Sui and Han. 

"I am very pleased with our performance today," Smirnov said. "I am glad that we did the two quad throws and that we gave an emotional performance. I am happy for us, for our coach Tamara Nikolaevna [Moskvina] and our fans."

Skating to music from Samson and Delilah, Sui and Han landed a quadruple twist, a throw triple salchow and a flip, as well as Level 4 spins and lifts, but their side-by-side jumps were not perfect. The 2015 world silver medalists came away with 141.22 points and were edged out of the gold by just 0.38 points with 215.62 overall. They qualified for the Grand Prix Final with the performance.

"We wanted to do two quads today, but I hurt my foot in practice on Tuesday, so we couldn't train the throws very much. For today, we did the best we could," Sui said.

Yu and Jin's program to the Creation soundtrack included a side-by-side triple toe, a triple twist and throw triple loop, but she fell on a throw quadruple salchow attempt. The world junior champions were awarded 127.69 points, a new personal best, and finished third with 197.75 points. 

"We almost did our best today," Yu said. "I just regret that we missed the throw quad salchow, because we missed it rarely in practice."

China's Xuehan Wang and Lei Wang completed a strong showing for the Chinese pairs by finishing fourth (186.76 points) ahead of Russias Kristina Astakhova and Alexei Rogonov (173.36 points).

Ice dance

Italy's Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte danced off with the gold medal while Team USA's Madison Chock and Evan Bates settled for the silver. Bronze went to Elena Ilinykh and Ruslan Zhiganshin of Russia.

Dancing to music from the La Dolce Vita soundtrack, Cappellini and Lanotte produced smooth footwork and impressive lifts, picking up Level 4's on five elements. The 2014 world champions set a new personal-best score of 106.91 to finish with 173.30 to win their first career Grand Prix gold medal.

"It is a very sweet win, Cappellini said. "[It is] a bit anachronistic, because we won worlds two years ago and we never won a Grand Prix before. It is nice, especially since we were able to skate well. Definitely, today we skated the best we could.".

Chock and Bates delivered a strong performance to "Concerto No. 2" by Sergei Rachmaninoff. The 2015 world silver medalists earned Level 4's for their lifts, twizzles and spin, but their two step sequences were rated just Level 2. The U.S. Champions came away with 103.80 points for their free and remained in second place with 169.16 points overall. The duo qualified for the Grand Prix Final with a gold (Skate America) and a silver medal.

"We were very happy with how we skated today," Chock said. "Our free dance kept building and growing and this is just another step that we hoped to take continuing forward in the season. We got a little lower technical score so we definitely have to take a look at that when we get home."

Ilinykh and Zhiganshin's free to music from the Frida soundtrack included Level 4 twizzles, lifts and a Level 4 spin. The Russian champions scored 95.46 points which added up to 159.00 overall.

"In some places we messed up, and we got a deduction because the flower fell out of my hair," Ilinykh said. "But, overall, it was a good start for us. It is better to make some mistakes in the first competition and to know what to expect."

Slovakia's Federica Testa and Lukáš Csölley finished fourth (136.17 points) followed by China's Yue Zhao and Xun Zheng with 129.65 points. Team USA's Kaitlyn Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker withdrew following the warmup as she suffered from an upset stomach.