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Osmond rallies past Asada, Pogorilaya for gold

Theree-time world champion's new free skate met with mixed reviews
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Kaetlyn Osmond edged Mao Asada by about a point to win the ladies title in Espoo. -Getty Images

Canada took both of the available gold medals at the Finlandia Trophy on Friday. One of those -- the one belonging to two-time world pairs champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford -- was expected.

Kaetlyn Osmond's was not.

The 20-year-old from Edmonton delivered the best free skate of her career and found herself on the top step of the podium in Espoo. Her program to La bohème included six triples and three Level 4 spins.

"For me, it means a lot, as it's the first time I did so many triples and did a triple-triple in the long program," Osmond said in the press conference. "It's a completely new style for me to skate this way, and I'm glad that everyone liked it as much as I did.

"I proved that I can do these jumps and programs in competition, and do them well. It gave me a lot of confidence knowing I can do them in a program when I really have to," Osmond continued. "Hopefully, I can keep pushing forward."

The two-time Canadian champion, who has struggled with injuries the last two seasons, scored 122.54 points in the segment and 187.27 overall -- both personal bests -- to win the fourth international gold medal of her career (Skate Canada in 2012, Nebelhorn in 2012 and '15).

More doubles than triples for Asada

Japanese superstar Mao Asada came into the day in second, and that's where she stayed after a clean but cautious skate. The much-awaited debut of her new free skate was filmed by more cameras than any other skater at the event.

Her performance left spectators a bit confused and with divided opinions: Some were blown away by the quality, intricacy and maturity Asada showed in the program, set to "Ritual Fire Dance" from the Manuel Falla ballet The Bewitched Lovewhile others didn't quite see the spark in what was supposed to be a passionate and feminine dance of a young lady.

The 26-year-old's every move was polished to perfection and performed with impeccable sureness, but she doubled a bunch of what could have been triple jumps, including the opening axel, and gave an overall tentative impression.

The three-time world champion, who said she plans to continue on with the season at, as she put it, her own "Mao pace," admitted that there is room for improvement.

"It was the first competition for me, and it was not quite what I hoped, but I know what I need to do better later this season," Asada said. "I was a little more nervous today than yesterday because I had skated the short program in shows earlier."

Pogorilaya slips from first to third

Russia's Anna Pogorilaya, on the other hand, came out guns blazing. She attempted no fewer than seven triples but got negative Grades of Execution (GOEs), underrotations or edge calls on almost all of her jumps. The leader after the short had to settle for third place in the free and the bronze medal.

The skater herself was actually surprised she ended up on the podium at all.

"Well, I didn't fall, but I can't really say I did well," she admitted.

Russia's Elizaveta Tuktamisheva came in fourth in both phases of the competition and placed fourth overall. The 2015 world champion took two falls in the middle part of her free skate, and several of her jumps were under-rotated.

Courtney Hicks of the U.S. moved down one spot to sixth after finishing eighth in the free. The Californian, who skated to The Hunchback of Notre Dame, fell hard on a triple salchow in the first minute of her free skate, and her next three jumps were unsuccessful as well. In fact, none of her jump elements earned a positive GOE.

Despite the subpar effort, Hicks was proud of the way she fought through the program. 

"I did a good job moving on," Hicks said. "My aim is to do the elements consistently, no matter how I'm feeling."

Her new coach, Todd Sand, rushed in to give her credit.

"She was a little off today, but I'm proud of what she did today," he said. "It's important that she is committed to pulling everything off and doing those triples."