Kozuka and Korpi win Trophee BompardPARIS, France - Takahiko Kozuka won figure skating’s Trophee Bompard after an exceptional men’s free program on Saturday, surpassing his Cup of China win three weeks ago with an even better overall score.
Overnight leader Kiira Korpi of Finland won the women’s event, overcoming a fall and one mistimed jump in her free to narrowly hold off American skaters Mirai Nagasu and Alissa Czisny, who took silver and bronze, respectively.
Kozuka was under pressure after a strong free program from Florent Amodio put the Frenchman in the lead. Kozuka recovered from a slight stumble when landing his first jump to deliver an otherwise perfectly synchronized performance to Franz Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1.
“When I got on the ice I heard the spectators cheering for Florent and I realized he skated very well, which made me a little bit nervous,” Kozuka said. “I was able to control my emotions and I felt good on my legs.”
Kozuka clenched his fists as the crowd gave him an ovation and hugged coach Nobuo Sato. His score of 248.07 beat the 233.51 he managed in Beijing.
“I was able to overcome my nerves and that was a big win for me,” Kozuka said.
Amodio scored 229.38 and Brandon Mroz of the United States took bronze with 214.31 - continuing his good form after finishing second at the Cup of China.
“Today was a good effort from me. I got my first medal in China and I’m getting a bronze here, that’s great,” Mroz said. “I too was nervous. We all had the [Grand Prix] final buzzing around in our heads - we were all contenders.”
Korpi finished second behind Nagasu in the free skate program but had tallied enough points in winning Friday’s short for a cumulative score of 169.74 - enough to beat Nagasu’s 167.79. Korpi seemed stunned and jumped up out of her chair, thrusting her arms up when her rank flashed on the big screen.
Czisny scored 159.80, while world champion Mao Asada - still adapting to a new coach - fared better than she did Friday and climbed to fifth. The Trophee Bompard is the sixth and last event in the ISU Grand Prix series. Next month is the Grand Prix Final in Beijing, which features the top six figure skaters in each discipline.
Czisny and Amodio did enough to seal their spots, while Kozuka will compete against countrymen Daisuke Takahashi and Nobunari Oda. Mroz is among the three substitutes.
“Going to the final is a great present for me, I have to get back to work,” Amodio said.
Meanwhile, former Trophee Bompard champion Brian Joubert pulled out of his free skate because of stomach pain.
“This bothers me because we’re in France and in front of my fans,” Joubert said, adding that he has felt sick the past few days. “I didn’t want to show my fans something negative because I am rebuilding.”
Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany won the pairs after dominating the free for an overall score of 197.88.
Overnight positions remained the same, with Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov of Russia getting silver with 183, and German pair Maylin Hausch and Daniel Wende picking up bronze with 157.42. The ice dance free followed later Saturday.