Asada wins Cup of China with strong free skate
SHANGHAI -- Two-time world champion Mao Asada of Japan rallied to win the Cup of China after a strong performance in the free skate on Saturday.
Asada, who was second after Friday's short program, earned 181.76 points to overtake Russian teen Julia Lipnitskaia, who lacked the speed and polish she displayed to win the short program.
"I didn't perform to the best of my ability but, considering I hadn't competed in so long, I'm really happy to win," Asada said. "I have a lot of things to work on. I'm going to have to include more difficult elements."
Kiira Korpi of Finland finished third on 169.86 points. She overtook Mirai Nagasu of the United States, who was third after the short program but stumbled on the landing of a double axel-triple toe loop combination to finish fourth.
Tatsuki Machida was the surprise winner in men's singles, upstaging short-program winner Daisuke Takahashi to capture his first Grand Prix title. Machida, who was second in the short program, prevailed with a total score of 236.92 despite falling on his quad toe loop.
The 22-year-old Machida skated to "The Firebird" and hit seven triple jumps in an impressive performance. Having finished third at Skate America last month, he is now in position to qualify for the Grand Prix Final in December in Sochi.
Takahashi, the 2010 world champion, came second with 231.75. The Vancouver Olympic bronze medalist was unable to land a quad in his free skate and fell on a triple loop late in his program.
Sergei Voronov of Russia was third on 217.61, while Adam Rippon of the United states took fourth on 205.48.
Asada skated elegantly to "Swan Lake" but once again chose not to attempt her trademark triple axel. The silver medalist at the Vancouver Olympics landed six triple jumps in the free skate, with a lone blemish coming when she doubled a planned triple lutz midway through her program.
It was a good start to the season for the 22-year-old Asada, who finished sixth at last season's world championships. She will skate next at the NHK Trophy in Sendai later this month.
Lipnitskaia, competing in an all-white costume to "Pas de Deux" from "The Nutcracker," fell on the back end of a double axel-triple toe loop combo.
Local favorites Qing Pang and Jian Tong of China captured the pairs with a score of 188.82. The duo, which finished second at Skate America last month, retained their lead after the short program. Yuko Kawaguchi and Alexander Smirnov of Russia placed second on 183.53. Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov of Russia took third at 172.55.
Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat of France won the ice dance with a tally of 169.73.
Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri of Russia placed second with 159.46, moving up from third after the short dance. Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje of Canada finished third on 158.97.
The Cup of China is the third of the six-event ISU Grand Prix series.
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press
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