It was a Japanese sweep in the ladies event, with Mao Asada, Fumie Suguri, and Yukari Nakano winning the gold, silver, and bronze, respectively.
Performing to to Nocturne by Frederic Chopin, Asada opened her routine with a triple Lutz, followed by a good triple flip-triple loop combination, a very good level four spiral sequence, and a solid double Axel. The 2006 World Junior silver medalist also displayed good spins and footwork, earning a new personal best of 69.50 points for a first place finish.
“My triple Lutz was a bit shaky,” admitted the 2005 Junior (and Senior) Grand Prix Final Champion, “but the rest was very good. Tomorrow, I want to land the triple Axel most of all and I want to do all my other elements like I can do them in practice.”
Suguri began her short program with a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination, followed by a triple flip, and a layback spin. The 2006 World silver medalist also produced a level four spiral sequence, a double Axel, two good spins, and a good level three straight line footwork sequence in her routine to Maurice Ravel’s Bolero, placing second with 61.92 points.
“My edges weren’t so good because I was nervous,” confessed Suguri, “but the audience supported me. In the free skating, I’ll show a modern Cinderella program, a humoristic program.”
Skating to music from the Memoirs of a Geisha soundtrack, Nakano opened with a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination and a triple flip. Despite a wobble during the change combination spin, the 2006 Four Continents silver medalist produced a good spiral sequence, a nice layback spin, a double Axel, and a good flying camel spin, earning 56.86 points for a third place finish after the short.
“Today I made a mistake on one of my spins,” stated Nakano. “Tomorrow I don’t want to repeat this mistake, and I want to show all elements as good as I can do them.”
USA’s Beatrisa Liang experienced a shaky landing on her triple Lutz-double toeloop combination and fell on a triple flip in her routine to Firedance by David Foster. Nevertheless, the 2006 Four Continents bronze medalist delivered two good level four spins, a very good level four spiral sequence, and a solid double Axel to finish fourth with 50.52 points.
Arina Martinova of Russia placed fifth (48.58 points) after singling a double Axel and two-footing the landing on a triple Lutz (in combination with a double toeloop).
China’s Dan Fang was sixth with 47.78 points.
Overnight leader Asada stepped out of the landing on a triple Axel, in the opening of her routine to Vittorio Monti’s Czardas, as well as singling two double toeloops during a triple Lutz-double toeloop-double toeloop combination. Despite the mistakes, the 16-year-old executed a solid double Axel-triple toeloop combination, a triple flip-triple loop combination, a solid double Axel, and two more good triple jumps. The reigning Grand Prix Final Champion also produced a very good level three circular footwork sequence and good spins, and a very good level four spiral sequence, placing first with 130.02 (personal best) and overall (199.52 points).
“I’m very happy to have won my first gold medal of the season,” said the Japanese National silver medalist. “I did a single Axel at Skate America, and this time I was able to complete the three rotations. Although the landing wasn’t perfect, I’m happy with it.”
Asada’s total score of 199.52 is currently the highest total achieved (in the ladies discipline) in an ISU competition.
Suguri skated to selections of music by Karl Jenkins, opening with a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination, a good triple flip, and a triple toeloop. The 25-year-old also executed a triple Lutz, a good triple flip-double toeloop combination, and a double Axel, but then singled a triple Salchow. Despite the mistake, the two-time Olympian also produced good spins and footwork to earn 117.39 points for a second place finish in the long and overall (179.31 points).
“The support of the audience helped me today,” said the Japanese National Champion. “I have some issues to overcome. I had difficulty in improving my physical condition and strength before this competition, but it’s getting better with each competition. Now I will train even more before the Japanese Championships.”
Performing to Cinderella by Sergei Prokofiev, Nakano popped a planned triple Axel and singled a triple loop. Nevertheless, the current Grand Prix Final bronze medalist landed a triple Lutz-double Axel sequence, a triple Salchow-double toeloop-double loop combination, a double Axel, and two more triple jumps. The defending NHK Trophy Champion also displayed good spins and footwork, earning 104.07 points for a third place finish in the long and overall (160.93 points).
“I didn’t have a good day today,” said the 21-year-old, “but it’s good that I was able to win a medal. It makes me happy that the Japanese skaters took all the medals and that I didn’t make a mistake in my spins like I did yesterday. I also got higher component scores than last year. I did have some mistakes in my jumps and I will work on that.”
USA’s Christine Zukowski, who stood in seventh after the short, underrotated a triple Salchow and triple Lutz, but otherwise produced a good routine which included four triple jumps and a double Axel. The 2006 World Junior bronze medalist was awarded 83.62 points for a fourth place finish and moved up to fifth overall (127.94 points).
Fang finished fifth in the long (80.07 points), maintaining sixth place overall (127.85 points), while Canada’s Lesley Hawker placed sixth in the long (79.85 points) and eighth overall (120.85 points).
Martinova, who was fifth after the short, finished eighth in the long (78.65 points) and seventh overall (127.23 points).
Liang was seventh in the long (78.80), but with a total score of 129.32 points, maintained fourth place overall.
Nakano, who earned 13 points at Cup of China and 11 points at this event (total 24 points), did not qualify for the Grand Prix Final (GPF). The accrued total of 312.20 points from both events, which is used to determine ties, was not enough to move up into the top six.
Asada and Suguri both qualified for the GPF, as did Miko Ando (JPN), Julia Sebestyen (HUN), Yu-Na Kim (KOR), and Sarah Meier (SUI).