Julia Sebestyen of Hungary rose from third after the short to win her first Grand Prix gold in the ladies event, while Japan’s Yukari Nakano edged out USA’s Emily Hughes for the silver. Hughes settled for the bronze, her first Grand Prix medal, with only a .15 point difference.
Hughes opened her Carmen routine with a good triple flip-double toeloop combination, followed by a triple Lutz, and a double Axel. The 2006 US National bronze medalist also exhibited a good spiral sequence and good spins, earning 56.74 points for a first place finish after the short.
“I came into this competition with a little different kind of mind set than at Skate America,” said Hughes, “because I already did this program once and I knew which parts I had to really focus on.” The 17-year-old changed her original triple Lutz combination to the triple flip combination after the Skate America competition. “I was really happy with the way it turned out,” she continued. “I’m just hoping to do a similar [free] program as I did today.”
Skating to music from the Memoirs of a Geisha soundtrack, Nakano underrotated her opening triple Lutz-double toeloop combination, but recovered to produce a triple flip, a very good combination spin, a good spiral sequence, a solid double Axel, and an excellent flying camel spin. The 2006 Four Continents silver medalist earned 54.90 points for a second place finish after the short.
“I felt a lot of pressure today,” said Nakano. “The Japanese skaters are so good now and had good results at Skate America and Skate Canada, and that put pressure on me.”
Performing to Serenade by Franz Schubert, Sebestyen doubled her opening jump – the double flip, but recovered to execute a good triple Lutz-double toeloop combination, a double Axel, and a very good combination spin. The two-time Olympian earned 52.82 points for a third place finish after the short.
“I tried to forget it immediately,” said Sebestyen, referring to the doubled flip. “I’m happy with my elements except for the first one.” Sebestyen added that she felt her jumps were ‘OK’ now, and that she didn’t have problems with them in practice. “I am in a good shape now, because I was able to pull myself together and focus on the rest of the competition.”
Aki Sawada of Japan delivered a good performance which included a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination, a triple flip, and a double Axel to place fourth with 49.98 points.
USA’s Beatrisa Liang stood in fifth (49.72 points), followed by Binshu Xu of China (49.54 points).
Skating to Otonal by Raul di Blasio, Sebestyen opened with a very good triple Salchow-double toeloop-double loop combination, followed by an excellent triple Lutz-double toeloop combination. However the 25-year-old then singled a triple loop and later doubled a triple toeloop. Despite the two mistakes, the Hungarian National Champion also produced a good triple Lutz and double Axel, as well as good spins and footwork to earn 100.98 points for a first place finish in the long. With a total score of 153.80 points, she rose from third to first overall to win the gold.
“I still can’t believe it,” said Sebestyen. “After last year, this is a big moment for me and I’ve worked very hard. It was not my best performance yet, but I felt comfortable on the ice and I feel I’m on a good way now.”
Nakano skated to Cinderella by Sergei Prokofiev, opening with a double Axel-double toeloop combination, but then stumbled on the landing of a double Axel done in sequence with a triple Lutz. She also landed forward on her triple flip and later doubled a triple loop. Nevertheless, the 21-year-old produced a triple Salchow, a very good flying camel spin, a triple Salchow-double toeloop-double loop combination, a very good level four spiral sequence, and a double Axel. The 2005 Grand Prix bronze medalist was awarded 96.37 points for a second place finish in the long, and with a total of 151.27 points, won the silver.
“Last year, I finished third at my first Grand Prix in Canada, now I’m second,” said Nakano. “I’m not pleased with the performance, but I’m happy about the medal. My goal for this season is to compete at the World Championships in Tokyo. I didn’t skate so well today, and I will train hard to accomplish my goal.
Performing to Sylvia by Léo Delibes, Hughes opened with a solid double Axel followed by a triple flip-double toeloop combination. The Olympian also produced a good spins, a triple Salchow-double toeloop combination, a level three straight line step sequence, and a very good level four combination spin. However she doubled a triple Lutz, and underrotated a triple flip and a triple toeloop (in combination with a double toeloop). The 2005 Junior World bronze medalist earned 94.38 points for a third place finish in the long, and with a total score of 151.12 points, dropped to third overall.
“Coming into the long program, I was in the lead and that’s a new spot for me,” said Hughes. “I’m two spots higher than at Skate America, but there are a lot of things that could have gone better today. Overall I’m very excited. It’s my first Grand Prix medal.” Hughes went on to say that she had really good practices as well as a good warm up. “Just in the program I felt a little shaky. I really tried to get over the jumps, but some of them weren’t really there.”
Mai Asada, who stood in eighth after the short, scored 87.01 points for a fourth place finish in the long, and with a total score of 134.27, moved up to sixth overall.
Xu placed fifth in the long (86.77 points) and moved up to fourth overall (136.31 points).
Though Liang placed eighth in the long, the American maintained fifth overall with a total score of 134.99 points.
Sawada, who finished ninth in the long, dropped from fourth to eighth place overall (133.33 points).
Sebestyen (15 points) is scheduled to compete in two weeks at Cup of Russia, while Nakano (13 points) will compete again later this month at NHK Trophy. Hughes, who earned 7 points at Skate America, picked up 11 points at this event and will have to wait to see if the 18 point total is enough to qualify for the Grand Prix Final next month.