2023 Cup of China: Women
Japan’s Hana Yoshida captured her first Grand Prix gold at 2023 Cup of China on Saturday in Chongqing. Teammate Rinka Watanabe pocketed the silver, Belgium’s Loena Hendrickx slipped to third for the bronze. It’s too early to tell which, if any, will go to the Grand Prix Final in Beijing until after the Grand Prix in Espoo and NHK Trophy.
Yoshida underrotated and fell on her triple Axel attempt in her short program to “Koo Koo Fun.” However, she quickly recovered to land a triple Lutz-triple toe and triple loop. The 2023 Lombardia Trophy silver also produced two level-four spins and placed third with a new season’s best of 64.65.
“I think I did well,” said the 18-year-old. “I concentrated for the rest of the program (after the fall). I am happy to be sitting here and that I can perform in the second group tomorrow.”
“Today I was able to just enjoy the audience and I think it was the most fun short program throughout this season,” she added.
Yoshida attempted the triple Axel again the free skate, but it was slightly underrotated and she stepped out the landing as she did at Skate America. There was also an edge call on a triple flip, but she landed a total of six clean triple jumps, including a triple Lutz-triple toe. All spins and footwork were graded a level four and received many positive grades of execution (GOE). She picked up a new season’s best of 139.92 for her routine to “Shakuhachi” and “La Terre Vue Du Ciel,” placing first in the free skate and overall (203.97).
“I’m really surprised that I won today,” Yoshida told the press. “I have lots of things to work on. I want to be able to aim for higher points.”
“After my triple Axel I was a little bit disappointed,” she added. “I wanted to land it clean, but after that, I was able to concentrate on the elements after and forget about the Axel. That was good.”
Watanabe landed a solid double Axel and triple Lutz in her “Avatar” short program. However, both jumps of a triple loop-triple toe were slightly underrotated and landed on the quarter. The 2023 Finlandia Trophy silver medalist also showed three level-four spins and placed second with a new season’s best of 65.09.
“Since Skate Canada, two weeks have passed, and a lot happened during these weeks,” said the 21-year-old. “I worked very hard to adjust my performance.”
The skater greatly improved her free skate score since Skate Canada, earning a new season’s best of 138.13 for second place. Her routine was nearly solid with the exception of an edge call on a triple flip. Watanabe landed a total of six clean triple jumps, including a triple loop-triple toe and triple Lutz-double toe. All three spins were also rewarded a level four while the footwork was a level three.
“Since Skate Canada, two weeks have passed,” she noted. “I feel very regretful for my performance at Skate Canada and I trained very hard to improve. For today, I feel better because I worked so hard. Now I want to keep improving and work hard for the Japanese Nationals. I want to include the triple Axel into my program.”
Hendrickx opened her entertaining short program with a solid triple flip, but then popped a double Axel. She also landed the back end of a triple Lutz-triple toe on the quarter, but the rest of the routine was solid. Her level-four flying camel spin and footwork were rewarded with high grades of execution (GOE) and her score of 70.65 was enough to take the lead.
“It was not my best performance,” said the 2023 World bronze medalist. “I’m a little sad, it was a stupid mistake. “I was a little early in time. I was standing a bit longer before my Axel and the concentration was gone, but I just have to jump anyway.”
The 2023 European silver medalist struggled in her free skate to “Break My Soul.” She turned out the landing on the first jump of a triple Lutz-triple toe, then underrotated the back half. She later underrotated a triple flip in a triple flip-double toe-double loop. The third jump in that combination was also landed on the quarter. She managed a triple flip, but popped the back end of a triple Lutz-triple toe. Only one spin was graded a level four and she placed third in the free skate and overall (130.84/201.49).
“I feel disappointed about my skate today,” said the 23-year-old. “I didn’t feel well for the past five days. I don’t want to use it as an excuse. I didn’t eat well here, I wasn’t hungry. I tried to eat but it was pretty hard. “I didn’t feel ready and confident. I had less energy. It was enough for the short, but not for the free.”
The 2023 Skate America champion now has 26 points for her standing in the Grand Prix Final qualification.
Estonia’s Niina Petrokina opened her short with a strong double Axel, but the underrotated the back end of a triple flip-triple toe. The flip was also landed on the quarter, and she later stepped out of a triple Lutz. She finished fourth (62.58).
The Skate America bronze medalist took a fall on a triple flip in her routine to “Dusty Road and Prelude.” She also put a foot down on the on the back end of a double flip-double toe in which the first jump was intended to be a triple. However, those were the only mistakes. The 19-year-old otherwise produced a double Axel-triple toe and triple Lutz-Euler-triple Salchow, as well as a triple loop and triple Lutz. All three spins were graded a level four and she finished fourth in the free skate and overall (125.46 / 188.04).
Madeline Schizas of Canada scored 61.53 points for her short program which included a triple Lutz-double toe, triple loop and double Axel. Unfortunately, she only received a level one on the layback spin.
The skater, who was fourth at 2023 Skate Canada, stepped out of triple loop in the first half of her free skate to “Summertime.” She later slightly underrotated the backend of a double Axel triple toe and the frontend of a triple loop-double toe. The 2023 Nepela Memorial bronze medalist otherwise landed a triple Salchow and triple flip and earned a level four on two spins. She finished fifth in the free skate and moved up to two spots to fifth overall (118.05 / 179.58).
Rounding out the top 11
South Korea’s Yelim Kim struggled with underrotations in her jumps in both the short program and free skate to place sixth overall (176.68). She is scheduled to compete next at NHK Trophy in two weeks.
Ekaterina Kurakova of Poland, who finished seventh at Skate America (173.75), placed seventh (173.15) again at this event. She will compete next week at the Challenger Series Warsaw Cup in Poland.
After a two-and-a-half-year hiatus, China’s Hongyi Chen placed eighth (168.66) in her first international event of the season. She won the gold at this event in 2020.