Abbott wins first Grand Prix in two years

Impressive free skate yields gold

American Jeremy Abbott scored a narrow victory at Cup of China.
American Jeremy Abbott scored a narrow victory at Cup of China. (AFP)


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(11/05/2011) - With only four points spread among the top four men, American Jeremy Abbott squeezed past Japan's versatile Nobunari Oda to secure a gold medal on Saturday.

Two-time U.S. champion Abbott rose from third place after the short program on Friday to finish with a strong performance in the free skate. His routine featured five clean triples, giving him 149.17 points as he skated to an intense ballad from "Exogenesis: Symphony" by Muse. Despite his opening fall, Abbott's subtle moves and intricate steps garnered him a gold medal with a total score of 228.49 points.

"It was not my best but apparently I have good luck in China," Abbott said. "I am happy to start off my season this way. I feel like I'm starting where I left off last season which means the season only will be better, so I'm excited about that."

Japan's jumping king, Oda, took second place with 227.11 points after placing fourth in the short program on Friday. Oda went on to flawlessly execute six clean triples to give him 149.46 points in his elegant free skate to "Les Parapluies de Cherbourg" by Michel Legrand.

"I didn't do my best, but I still got a higher [placement]," said Oda. "I am happy to make the podium, and next time, I want to give a better performance." In third place, China's own Nan Song went home with a total of 226.75 points and his first Grand Prix medal after performing to a roaring crowd. Song could prove to be a serious contender in Sochi with his technical prowess in the free skate, which began with a clean quad toe-triple followed by another quad toe and five triples, giving him the lead in the free skate with 154.03 points.

American Richard Dornbush came in fifth place overall after a hands-down quad toe and a fall out of toe on a triple Axel-triple toe.