Ice Network

Miyahara shows humility in dismantling ladies field

Bell overcomes costume malfunction to win silver; Chen captures bronze
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Satoko Miyahara simply outclassed the field in Salt Lake City, besting her closest competitor, Mariah Bell of the U.S., by more than 22 points. The 2015 world silver medalist earned 136.66 points for her free skate to music from 'Star Wars' and the "Jupiter" suite from 'The Planets' on her way to a competition total of 206.75. -Melissa Majchrzak

SALT LAKE CITY - Satoko Miyahara's post-competition demeanor was a stark contrast to her flawless free skate that brought the crowd to its feet and earned her the victory at the 2016 U.S. International Figure Skating Classic in Salt Lake City on Saturday.

Bold and passionate on the ice as she performed a difficult program to parts of Star Wars and "Jupiter," the 18-year-old oozed humility as she discussed her gold-medal performance.

"It was not bad," Miyahara said, holding roses in one hand and putting the other hand on her chest. "I was nervous, so nervous."

She smiled, exposing braces that are a reminder of her youth, after being asked about earning a standing ovation.

"I was really happy," she said. "And now I will go back home and practice more."

Miyahara executed her program so perfectly, so beautifully, that she didn't have a single deduction in earning a score of 136.66. That gave her 206.75 combined points -- 22 more than second-place finisher Mariah Bell.

The 20-year-old American had a fall, but she also earned her first senior international medal in six tries with a 123.58-point free skate and an overall mark of 184.22.

"It's definitely a confidence booster," Bell said. "For me to get the two triple-triples in is huge. I already know in my mind that I can compete the two. That helps a lot. Now I just need to go in and smooth them out."

Bell changed coaches about a month ago and said it was important for her to do well in the first international competition of the season.

"I already feel like we've made huge strides," she said of the impact new coach Rafael Arutunian has had on her. "I've been really focused technically the last month. … So throughout the rest of the season the program is really going to grow in terms of the details, extension and lines. But right now, I'm really packing in the technical because later in the season, when it really counts, it needs to be strong."

Bell also battled her own costume throughout her free skate performance. The top hook came undone and caught in her hair repeatedly, despite her best efforts to untangle it.

"When it got stuck, my head couldn't bend forward," she said. "I think it took away from my program in that it was frustrating to me. But in terms of mentally, it wasn't a distraction."

Team USA's Karen Chen, 17, finished third. The California native was just happy to have the chance to redeem herself after a disappointing short program that had her in fifth place.

"I'm definitely happy about this performance versus my short," she said. "I noticed in the short I was really, really nervous. It kind of just got to me, so (tonight) I tried to make myself feel like I was at home, not worrying about anything. I just wanted to go out there and pretend it's like practice and not let the nerves get to me."

Chen scored 110.58 points for her free skate, which gave her 162.08 overall. While she knows there is a lot of room for improvement, she said she earned some important victories this week.

"I'm just really happy I took control of my nerves and just pushed that away," she said. "I'm really happy that I nailed both triple lutzes and triple loops because those were the jumps I missed terribly in the short."

Da-bin Choi of Korea was fourth, while first-time senior international competitor Paige Rydberg of the U.S. came in fifth.

"I really enjoyed my senior debut," Rydberg said. "I came out here, and it wasn't of course perfect. But it's still early in the season, so I'm pretty happy with my skate."