Ice Network

Pogorilaya tangoes past Asada, into first place

Top four finishers all skate clean; Hicks shows strong spins, places fifth
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Anna Pogorilaya was pleased with her first-place performance in the short program. -Getty Images

Russia's Anna Pogorilaya skated a convincing short program, with a high degree of difficulty and all Level 4 elements, to take the lead at the 2016 Finlandia Trophy.

The 18-year-old world bronze medalist was all smiles in the post-skate press conference, looking more relaxed than ever before.

"My performance here was quite OK. I did everything I had planned to do," Pogorilaya said about her short program.

The choreography was done by current competitor Misha Ge.

"We worked really as a coach and a student, and he took his job as a choreographer quite seriously," Pogorilaya said.

"I knew he had also choreographed for other people before and that he also choreographed his own programs, and seeing his programs and the details he puts in his programs, we were sure that he would do a good job," Pogorilaya continued. "But eventually it depends on me and how I perform this program."

The program is a tango from the movie Scent of a Woman.

"It's about a passion that is burning inside but doesn't show from the outside," Pogorilaya said.

She also commented on her fresh new look.

"I dyed my hair recently. Now it's more my natural color," Pogorilaya said. "I decided not to color my hair blonde and torture my hair any longer."

With 69.50 points, Pogorilaya has an almost five-point lead going into the free skate.

Japan's Mao Asada, sitting in second place, showed a clean program as well. Her jump content was the "light version" she often uses early in the season: double axel, triple flip-double loop combination and a solo triple loop.

"It's not my best, but I did what I wanted to do, and I'm satisfied," Asada said. "In the future, I will do more difficult jumps in my programs. This was just a good start for the season."

As she did in the short, Asada will skate to music from the Manuel de Falla ballet El amor brujo in the free skate.

Happy note

Canada's Kaetlyn Osmond seems to have gotten back to the level where she was a couple of years ago, before she was beset by injuries, and her marks reflected that. She equaled her personal best of 63.47, which she set at the 2013 World Championships. Here, it was good enough for third place.

Osmond's light and delightful program to "Sous le ciel de Paris" stood out from those of her fellow competitors, who presented mostly serious programs.

"I'm really excited about this program; I'm really happy with it. I trained on ice all summer, and this actually is my third competition of the year," Osmond said. "The last season didn't go as well as I wished, and doing a clean program today felt good. It gives me confidence for the season."

Russia's Elizaveta Tuktamisheva skated a solid short as well, but she didn't achieve a Level 4 on any of her elements. She also didn't get much height on her double axel, a surprise considering that she has shown the triple axel before. The 2015 world champion finished fourth with 62.99 points.

In contrast to the error-filled pairs short program earlier in the day, the top four ladies all skated clean programs.

American Courtney Hicks placed fifth with 57.41 points, ahead of Sweden's Joshi Helgesson. The Californian opened her program with a triple flip-triple toe combination but had to add a 3 turn between the jumps. The triple loop and double axel were judged to be clean, even though the skater felt otherwise.

"I felt that the jumps weren't clean, but the spins were good. It wasn't as good as I wanted, but I did what I needed to do," Hicks said, adding, with a laugh, "almost."