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Cinderella story: Mihara strikes gold at Nebelhorn

Tuktamisheva stumbles in free, settles for silver; Daleman wins bronze
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Mai Mihara of Japan claimed the biggest victory of her young career at the Nebelhorn Trophy on Saturday. -Getty Images

Before this week, a sixth-place finish at the Junior Grand Prix Final last December was the highlight of 17-year-old Mai Mihara's international career.

No more. Competing in her first senior international event, the Japanese teenager defeated 2015 world champion Elizaveta Tuktamisheva to win gold at the 2016 Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf, Germany.

Performing her free skate to Patrick Doyle's music from the movie Cinderella, Mihara opened with a sterling triple lutz-triple toe loop combination and followed it with a triple flip. She hit four other triples and two double axels on her way to a segment-best score of 125.92, and she won the event with 189.03 points.

"It was unbelievable today," Mihara said. "I enjoyed the performance from the beginning to the end. I am happy that I was able to interpret the music very well."

Tuktamisheva, who fell to eighth place in Russia last season, settled for the silver medal with 185.93 points. After leading off her Cleopatra free skate a high double axel, she performed six clean triple jumps but fell on her second double axel at the end of the routine.

"I am very pleased," Tuktamisheva said. "This is a big step forward since my first test competition in Russia some weeks ago. To avoid the [fall] at the end of my program, I have to stay more focused."

Tuktamisheva did not try her most famous element, the triple axel, this week.

"My plan is to include the triple axel in the free program again in later competitions," Tuktamisheva said. "This would mean that some other elements will change."

Gabrielle Daleman won the bronze medal with 175.40 points. Skating to "Rhapsody in Blue," the 2015 Canadian champion opened with an outstanding triple toe-triple toe combination, which seven of the nine judges rewarded with a +3 Grade of Execution. Later in the program, however, she fell on her second triple lutz and popped a triple loop.

"It was a very good start to the season," Daleman said. "I felt great in my program. In the next few weeks I plan to work on more speed and consistency." 

So Youn Park of South Korea ended up fourth, earning 161.95 points.

Amber Glenn, who trains under Peter and Darlene Cain in Plano, Texas, finished fifth with 157.68 points. She opened her "Rhapsody in Blue" free with only a triple-double combination, but she went on to land three other clean triples and perform three Level 4 spins.

"I am pretty happy about my performance," Glenn said. "This is the first semi-clean free program I've done in a long time. I had fun on the ice and was not scared at all. I doubled two jumps which were planned triples and left out a combination, but I wanted to the program to be as clean as possible."