A little more than a month after a disastrous short program denied Mao Asada a medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, the popular skater redeemed the mistake by capturing gold at the 2014 World Figure Skating Championships in front of a home nation crowd in Saitama, Japan on March 29.
Asada, 23, won both segments of the competition to take the title with a sky-high score of 216.69, which included a world record setting 78.66 points for her short program. She bested silver medalist Julia Lipnitskaia of Russia for the top mark by nearly 10 points (207.50). Despite finishing just sixth in the free skate, reigning Olympic bronze medalist Carolina Kostner of Italy held off a hard charge by Russian Anna Pogorilaya to claim the last spot on the podium by a final mark of 203.83 to Pogorilaya's 197.50.
The title is Asada's third overall. She previously won the competition in 2008 and 2010, and holds a silver world medal from 2007, and a bronze from 2013.
Although the American ladies haven't earned a medal at worlds since 2006, when Kimmie Meissner took gold and Sasha Cohen claimed bronze, all three U.S. entrants scored top 10 placements behind Asada. Reigning national champion Gracie Gold finished fifth, while former U.S. champ Ashley Wagner and upstart Polina Edmunds finished seventh and eighth, respectively.
The 2013-14 figure skating season will conclude April 3-6 in Slovenia with the Triglav Trophy.