Asada tops Four Continents skating

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Asada tops Four Continents skating

OSAKA, Japan - Two-time world champion Mao Asada won the figure skating Four Continents on Sunday, leading a Japanese sweep of the podium.

After reintroducing her trademark triple axel in Saturday’s short program, Asada was downgraded on the jump in Sunday’s free skate but was solid in her other elements to finish with 205.45 points. Akiko Suzuki was second with 190.08 points while Kanako Murakami finished third with 181.03.

“The short program exceeded expectations and the free met my expectations,” said Asada, who skated to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. “I am happy I was able to challenge the triple axel and that has given me confidence.”

Asada had been struggling with the triple axel since the Vancouver Olympics but was able to win four events this season without it. She pulled it off to perfection on Saturday when she finished first in the short program. Despite being downgraded on the jump Sunday, Asada said she plans to attempt it at the world championships in London, Ontario, next month.

“I plan to include it at the Worlds and hope to build on the success I’ve had here,” Asada said.

The Four Continents is the last major event before the March 11-17 Worlds where Asada will renew her rivalry with Korean skater Kim Yu-na.

Suzuki, who was second after the short program, turned in a strong performance to music from Cirque du Soleil. She under-rotated a double axel on her second element and was deducted points on a triple lutz but was solid otherwise to hold on to second place ahead of Murakami, who won her first medal at a senior International Skating Union event.

Murakami was downgraded on a triple flip earlier in her routine but had no major mistakes in the free skate.

“I missed out on a podium at last year’s Four Continents because of a poor free skate so I was thinking about that today,” Murakami said. “It’s great to see a Japanese sweep.” AP

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