Kostner leads ladies at NHK

The Ladies Short Program proved to be a tight competition with only 3 points separating the first and fourth place skater.

Carolina Kostner of Italy is currently in first, followed by Japan’s Miki Ando and Switzerland’s Sarah Meier, respectively.

Kostner stepped out of the landing of a triple Lutz in her routine to Riders on the Storm, but otherwise delivered a triple flip-triple toeloop combination and double Axel.

The Italian champion, who earned 61.24 (32.84/28.40) points, was awarded a level four for her spiral sequence and both spins, as well as positive GoEs for her level three straightline footwork sequence.

The 20-year-old was pleased with her performance.

“I know I had some small mistakes,” said Kostner, “[but] tomorrow is another chance to make it better. I didn’t expect to be in first place. I hope I can keep it and improve on my placement from [Cup of China].”

Ando is close on her heels with 60.52 (30.84/29.68) points after her performance to Samson and Delilah by Saint-Saens.

The current World champion opened with a triple Lutz-double loop combination, followed by a triple flip and a double Axel. While she was awarded a level four for her final combination spin, the 19-year-old almost lost her balance on a spiral sequence which was subsequently graded a level one.

The Japanese silver medalist admitted to having timing problems with her triple Lutz, explaining the reason for her opening triple-double combination.

“My coach (Nikolai Morozov) and I decided after the warm-up not to go for the triple-triple combination,” explained Ando, “but for a triple-double to have a clean program. For the free skate, I want to do my triple-triple combination and my double Axel-triple toeloop combination.”

Meier sits in third with a seasonal bet of 59.16 (31.40/27.76) points.

The Swiss champion opened her Patch Adams routine with a solid triple Lutz-double toeloop, but her triple flip was was penalized for use of the wrong take-off edge. She otherwise landed a double Axel, received a level four for her spiral sequence, and was awarded a level three for two of her spins and straightline footwork.

“I felt shaky before competing,” confessed Meier, “but I am happy that I did a clean program. Tomorrow I hope to give 200 percent in the Free Skating, and I want to improve from my last competition (Trophée Eric Bompard).”

The 23-year-old added that she had made a lot of changes in her program since Trophée Eric Bompard two weeks ago.

“I was disappointed with some of the levels for my elements [at Trophée Eric Bompard],” explained Meier. “My sit spin was a level zero, now I changed to a camel spin and I try to improve the sit position in my combination spin. I also changed from a circular to a straightline step sequence, and I still need some time to become more comfortable with the program.”

USA’s Alissa Czisny was also penalized for using the wrong take-off edge on her triple flip, but otherwise executed a triple Lutz-double toeloop, a double Axel, and received a level four on on all elements except for her level three straightline footwork.

The U.S. bronze medalist currently sits in a close fourth with 58.24 (32.80/25.44) points, and received the second highest Total Element score of the evening.

Nana Takeda of Japan is in fifth with a new personal best of 55.06 (31.70/23.36) points after her routine to Tanguera by M. Mores. The 18-year-old produced a triple toeloop, a triple loop-double toeloop combination, and a double Axle. She also received a level four on all elements except for a level three straightline footwork sequence.

Finland’s Laura Lepistö is in sixth place with 54.48 (31.00/23.48) points. The 2007 Nordics silver medalist delivered a triple toeloop-double toeloop combination, a triple loop, and a double Axel, however, only one of her spins received a level four.

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