Kozuka and Korpi win Trophee Bompard
PARIS -- Takahiko Kozuka won the Trophee Bompard after an exceptional men's free program on Saturday, surpassing his Cup of China win three weeks ago with an even better overall score.
Overnight leader Kiira Korpi of Finland won the women's event, overcoming a fall and one mistimed jump in her free skate to narrowly hold off Americans Mirai Nagasu and Alissa Czisny, who took silver and bronze.
"The program wasn't perfect today. The beginning was good, but then I had a very bad fall and I wasn't sure if I was a bit hurt," Korpi said. "I pulled myself together, and the rest of the program as OK. I was like a fighter on the ice."
Kozuka was under pressure after a strong free program from Florent Amodio put the Frenchman in the lead.
Kozuka recovered from a slight stumble when landing his first jump to deliver an otherwise perfectly synchronized performance to Liszt's Piano Concerto No. 1.
"When I got on the ice I heard the spectators cheering for Florent and I realized he skated very well, which made me a little bit nervous," Kozuka said. "I was able to control my emotions and I felt good on my legs."
Kozuka clenched his fists as the crowd gave him an ovation and hugged coach Nobuo Sato. His score of 248.07 beat the 233.51 he managed in Beijing.
"I was able to overcome my nerves and that was a big win for me," Kozuka said.
Amodio scored 229.38 and Brandon Mroz of the United States took bronze with 214.31 -- continuing his good form after finishing second at the Cup of China.
"Today was a good effort from me. I got my first medal in China and I'm getting a bronze here, that's great," Mroz said. "I too was nervous, we all had the (Grand Prix) final buzzing around in our heads -- we were all contenders."
Korpi finished second behind Nagasu in the free skate, but had built up a big enough lead from Friday's short to finish ahead of Nagasu. Korpi scored 169.74 overall while Nagasu had 167.79.
"I'm so mad, right now. ... How do you mess up on a spin?" Nagasu said, referring to an unexpected mistake on a layback that cost her victory. "There's a million little things I could go back and do again."
Korpi seemed stunned and jumped up out of her chair, thrusting her arms up when her rank flashed on the big screen.
"I didn't know how the other skaters had done before me. I wasn't sure that would be enough," Korpi said. "I was thinking (I had) to do a clean program to win, but it helped me that I skated so well (on Friday)."
Korpi was able to compose herself after the early fall, despite some heavy bruising, because the same had happened at this year's Winter Olympics.
"I had this kind of fall in the short program in Vancouver," she said. "I felt just like (I) did there, so I had knowledge how to continue."
Czisny scored 159.80, while world champion Mao Asada -- still adapting to a new coach -- fared better than she did Friday and climbed to fifth.
The Trophee Bompard is the sixth and last event in the ISU Grand Prix series. Next month is the Grand Prix Final in Beijing, which features the top six figure skaters in each discipline.
Czisny and Amodio did enough to seal their spots, while Kozuka will compete against countrymen Daisuke Takahashi and Nobunari Oda, and Mroz is among the three substitutes. Korpi and Nagasu are also reserves.
"Going to the final is a great present for me, I have to get back to work," Amodio said.
Meanwhile, former Trophee Bompard champion Brian Joubert pulled out of his free skate because of a stomach complaint.
"This bothers me because we're in France and in front of my fans," Joubert said, adding that he has felt poorly for the past few days. "I didn't want to show my fans something negative because I am rebuilding."
Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany won the pairs after dominating the free for an overall score of 197.88.
The overnight positions remained the same, with Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov of Russia getting silver with 183, and German pair Maylin Hausch and Daniel Wende picking up bronze with 157.42.
The ice dance free followed later Saturday.
French skaters Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat won the ice dance, finishing first in both Friday's short and Saturday's free program to comfortably win with 161.82. Ekaterina Riazanova and Ilia Tkachenko of Russia (146.79) won the silver ahead of Madison Chock and Greg Zuerlein of the United States (138.48).
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press
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