About Asada leads short program at NHK Trophy
|December 1st, 2006||#1|
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Asada leads short program at NHK Trophy info
NAGANO, Japan - With an elegant performance, Mao Asada took the lead in the women's short program Friday at the NHK Trophy figure skating Grand Prix event.
Two other Japanese skaters, Fumie Suguri and Yukari Nakano, were second and third. Only two of the three will qualify for this month's Grand Prix final at St. Petersburg, Russia.
Asada needs a win to have a chance of defending her title. She won last year's final, but was not eligible for the Turin Olympics because she was too young and comes in with just a third-place finish at Skate America.
In the short program, she easily completed her triple lutz-triple loop combination and scored bonus points with her double axel to finish with a career-best 69.50 points.
Asada did triple axels last year as a 15-year-old, but faltered when trying it in the free program at Skate America.
She said the poor performance at Skate America's free program was due to her missing the triple axel at the start.
"I would like to do the triple axel again," Asada said. "I think if I do it, the rest of the program will go well."
Asada is now training in California with Rafael Arutunian, who most recently coached Michelle Kwan
Suguri and Nakano have seconds from Skate Canada and the Cup of China, respectively. Suguri recorded 61.92 points Friday, while Nakano had 56.86.
With the top three positions worth 15, 13 and 11 points, it will come down to the Japanese order of finish to see who qualifies for St. Petersburg. The top six scorers from the season in each event qualify for the final.
"I don't think about the pressure, but I do want to go to the Grand Prix final," Asada said. "If I think about it too much, I will get nervous."
Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon of Canada dominated the original dance portion to maintain their lead in the ice dance competition.
The Canadians, performing to the tango rhythm in the original dance portion, had an overall score of 98.51, scoring 60.23 for the second of three segments.
The free dance is Saturday.
Dubreuil and Lazuzon, silver medalists at the world championships in Calgary, Alberta, in March, failed to finish at the Olympics after Dubreuil fell heavily during the original dance there.
Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski of Russia were in a tight contest for second, leading 88.81 to 88.18 over Americans Melissa Gregory and Denis Petukhov.
The pairs competition was to finish later Friday with a Chinese duel at the top, as former world champions Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo lead Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao.
Also later Friday was the scheduled start of the women's singles, the main event of the NHK Trophy.
Japanese skaters were expected to dominate, with berths at this month's Grand Prix final in St. Petersburg, Russia on the line.
Mao Asada, who won last year's GP final but was not eligible for the Olympics because she was too young, came into this event with just a third-place finish from Skate America. After looking so good in the short program there, she faltered in her trademark triple axel and several other jumps.
Fumie Suguri and Yukari Nakano were second at Skate Canada and the Cup of China, respectively.
With the top three positions worth 15, 13 and 11 points, it will come down to whatever way the Japanese finish, since they are the top skaters in the women's field. The top six scorers from the season in each event qualify for the final.
The NHK Trophy is being held in the city that staged the 1998 Winter Olympics at the Big Hat Arena, site of the Olympic ice hockey events. The 2002 world championships were also held in Nagano, but at the M-Wave rink, venue of the Olympic speed skating.