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Takiahiko Kozuka Wins Skate America Gold

Weir and Lysacek Go 2-3

Going into the Skate America this week, the hype surrounded Americans Evan Lysacek and Johnny Weir.

In the end though it was Japan's Takahiko Kozuka who walked away golden. Weir and Lysacek were second and third, respectively, at the compteition being held this weekend in Everett, Wash. Both had quad jumps downgraded.

Meanwhile the 19-year-old Japanese skater, the 2006 world junior champion, won his first senior Grand Prix medal.

The Japanese teenager landed a triple Axel-triple toe loop combination, a triple flip, a triple Salchow-double toe loop, a triple Lutz-double toe-double loop as well as a triple loop in his "Romeo and Juliet" program. His spins were well done, with good speed and complexity. He earned a level four for two of them. He attempted a quad toe loop to open his routine but fell, and he later tried a triple Axel and a triple Lutz at the end of his routine. He put his hand down on the Axel, but the Lutz was solid.

However, he compiled 146.08 points for his free and 266.18 overall -- both personal bests. "For me, I fell on the quad, and I am not completely satisfied,” Kozuka said. “I am glad I didn't give up and was able to skate until the end."

Weir was happy with his free skate. Performing to “Notre Dame de Paris,” Weir reeled off eight triple jumps including two triple Axels. His three spins and the straight line steps were graded a level three. He went for the quadruple toe loop early in the routine, but underrotated and stepped out of it.

The 2008 World bronze medalist scored 144.65 points (69.75/74.90) and accumulated an overall mark of 225.20 points. "I think my performance was good for the first time out this season. So many things need work. So many things need refining and polishing.”

Lysacek, who won the short program, but had several costly errors in the long. Both his opening quad toe loop and second triple Axel were downgraded, and his footwork sequences a Level 2.

The American landed one triple Axel and six more triples, including a triple flip-triple toe loop combination. The two-time World bronze medalist (2005-06).

Just one day earlier, Lysacek was impressive as he scored 81.30 points and skated a nearly flawless short program to take the lead. "It is a program that I am very proud of, and I was looking forward to doing it," the reigning and two-time U.S. men's champion said about his " Bolero" routine. "I am pretty happy with the way it went."

Johnny Weir was second in the short program with a score of 80.55. Weir opened with a triple Lutz-triple toe loop and a triple Axel. he two-footed landing on his triple flip.

"I am pleased with how the first performance of the season went," said Weir a three-time U.S. champion (2004-06).

Kozuka scored 80.10 to place third and set up Saturday's dramatic comeback. "I was able to show everything, and I am very happy about that," he said.

1 Takahiko KOZUKA JPN (226.18)
2 Johnny WEIR USA (225.20)
3 Evan LYSACEK USA (223.21)
4 Kevin REYNOLDS CAN (204.89)
5 Shawn SAWYER CAN (199.98)
6 Alexander USPENSKI RUS (177.81)
7 Adrian SCHULTHEISS SWE (177.26)
8 Adam RIPPON USA (174.82)
9 Igor MACYPURA SVK (169.61)
10 Ian MARTINEZ CAN (155.18)
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