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Mao Asada - Golden in Korea

Goyang City -- Reigning Japanese champion, Mao Asada claimed her first Four Continents title with Canada’s Joannie Rochette placing second and Miki Ando from Japan, third.

Asada, 17, skated into the lead by a slim margin after the short program. Her “Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra” program by Jean-Claude Petit earned a new season high score of 60.94 points. Ando finished less than a point behind with 60.07 points as did Rochette, who scored 60.04 points, a new personal best.

Asada came out firing in the long program. Opening with a stunning triple Axel she landed all her jumping passes but the second jump of her triple flip-triple toe loop combination was cheated and downgraded. The 17-year-old earned a level-four for her spiral sequence, flying sit and flying combination spin. She scored 132.31 points and a new season best point total of 193.25 to claim the gold.

“I am very happy about how I skated today,” Asada said. “I am especially pleased to have landed the triple Axel and I will try my best for the World Championships.”

Rochette, who skated first of the top contenders, opened her program with a solid triple Lutz-double toe-double loop combination. Her performance to “Don Juan” by Felix Gray earned her a new season best sore of 119.50 points and moved her up from third to second with a total of 179.54 points. It was her second consecutive medal at Four Continents. She claimed the bronze last year.

“The first two jumps were very important. I was glad I could stand up strong. For Worlds, I’ll have to get the sequence,” Rochette said. “I know I can do the triple-triple sequence.”

Ando, the last skater of the evening, got off to a bad start by doubling the second jump of her opening combination, a triple Lutz-triple loop. The reigning World Champion then popped her quadruple Salchow attempt into a single and stumbled out of it. She rallied back to land four clean triples as well as a double Axel-double loop combination. Ando earned 117.59 points, a new seasonal best, but slipped to third with 177.66 points.

“I am sad about popping the quad Salchow and missing the triple-triple combination,” she said. “I was thinking too much about the quad, that’s why I just popped it.

Korea’s Na-Young Kim placed fourth with 158.49 points. Mira Leung from Canada finished fifth with 157.36 points and Katrina Hacker from the United States came in sixth with 153.06 points. The young American had an error-free skate and landed five triple jumps.