Kostner takes NHK title

Caroline Kostner was the gold medal winner in the Ladies discipline, while Sarah Meier of Switzerland and Nana Takeda of Japan both rose two spots to win silver and bronze, respectively.

Meier, who stood in third after the short, opened her routine with a triple Lutz-double toeloop-double loop combination, but then stumbled on a triple flip which was later penalized for use of the wrong take-off edge. She also landed a triple Salchow and a triple toeloop, but doubled a Lutz and was later penalized a second time on a double flip (intended to be a triple) in combination with a double toeloop.

The European silver medalist otherwise produced three level four spins and good footwork in her program to music by Tokuhide Niimi, earning 103.45 (47.81/56.64) points for a first place finish. With a total score of 164.69 points, she moved up one spot to second overall.

The Swiss champion was proud of the result, but disappointed with her performance.

“After my last competition (Trophée Bompard), I have worked a lot on my spins and steps and improved my levels,” said Meier. “Now I have to work more on the jumps – most of all on the flip.”

Performing to Dumsky Trio by Antonin Dvorak, Kostner opened with a triple flip-double toeloop combination, but then fell on her second jump in a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination. She also doubled a flip and a toeloop, and singled her last Axel, but otherwise landed a double Axel-double toeloop combination, a triple Salchow.

Despite the mistakes on the jumps, the European champion earned a level three on three of her spins and produced a very good level four spiral and straightline footwork sequence. However, she received a level one on her final combination spit spin in which she traveled a bit on the first half.

The 20-year-old wasn’t satisfied with her program due to the mistakes on her jumps, but was happy with her spins and footwork.

“I tried to be clean on them, and it was rewarded,” said Kostner. “Now I need to work on my jumps and to become more consistent and calm.”

Takeda, who stood in fifth after the short, placed third in the long with a new personal best of 99.77 (53.33/47.44) points.

The Japanese skater underrotated and fell on a triple flip (also penalized for the use of the wrong take-off edge) and later fought for the landing of a triple toeloop (in combination with a double toeloop), but otherwise produced four triple jumps.

Though Takeda also struggled a bit on a flying sit spin, she earned a level four for her combination change spin and spiral sequence in her routine to Otonal by Raul di Blasio. In the end, Takeda rose from fifth to third place overall with a total score of 154.83 points.

The 18-year-old was stunned when she found out she had medalled.

“I was ready to go home,” said Takeda. ” Only when I stood on the podium and saw the flag going up, [did] I realized that I had the bronze medal. I hope to skate well in the future to be able to step on to the podium again in a major competition like that.”

Lesley Hawker of Canada, who was ninth after the short, finished fourth in the long with 94.02 points. The 26-year-old fell on a triple Lutz and made mistakes on several other triple jumps, but received a level four for two of her spins. She finished seventh overall (139.96 points).

Finland’s Laura Lepistö placed fifth in the long (91.10 points) and overall (145.58 points). The 2007 Nordics silver medalist produced good spins and footwork, but popped a Lutz and had problems with several other jumps as well.

USA’s Alissa Czisny fell to sixth overall after placing sixth in the long program.

Mai Asada, who stood in 11th place after the short, withdrew from the event due to a high fever.

Kostner earned 15 points to add to the 11 she picked up at Cup of China, and has qualified for the Grand Prix Final for the first time.

“It means a lot to me,” said the Italian champion, “because it will be held in my hometown (Torino). This was something we’ve worked for from the beginning of the season. It shows that we are on the right way.”

Meier earned 13 points at this event, but with a total of only 22 points, missed the cutoff for the top six and is now the first substitute.

Ando now has 22 points as well, and is the second substitute.

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