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Figure Skating

Asada wins Grand Prix in Russia after stellar free skate

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Associated Press
12/8/2012 9:18:43 AM
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SOCHI, Russia -- Mao Asada of Japan won the Grand Prix Final of figure skating on Saturday following a free program that ranged from sprightly to quietly refined.

Asada landed six triples in her program to excerpts from Tchaikovsky's "Swan lake," a musical choice that delighted the Russian spectators to boost Asada's spirits.

"When it began, I head some people clapping and I was happy to hear that," she said." Looking back on my performance there were no major mistakes, so that's a great takeaway from today."

Asada's only significant misstep was doubling what would have been her seventh triple of the program. But her presentation followed the music's emotional range, from the dreamy opening to its lively conclusion.

Ashley Wagner of the United States, who was just half a point behind Asada heading into the free skate, fell twice and ended up a distant second. Akiko Suzuki of Japan took the bronze.

Wagner said her second fall, a frontal plunge on a double axel in combination after a triple loop "was a bit of a freak fall. But to have such a hard fall and then go and complete the triple flip of that quality is definitely something I can take away from this competition."

She'll also take away some pain from the fall. The team doctor told her she injured a hip.

"I can't tell you what that is but I can tell you it really hurts," Wagner said. "For me, I always like to go big or go home, so when I fall I like to fall really hard."

Suzuki also fell twice in her program, after opening with a solid triple-double-double cascade and a double axel-triple toeloop.

"I thought I did a very good short program yesterday, so I wanted to bring that momentum and mood into my free program. So I just realize how difficult it is to have both a good and solid short as well as a long program," she said.

Kiira Korpi of Finland took fourth, followed by Russia's Elizaveta Tuktamysheva and American skater Christina Gao.

Mao Asada (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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