Technically conservative? Not anymore. The skater who has spent much of her career pushing the technical envelope in figure skating is back to her old ways. Mao Asada hit a triple axel today to take the lead after the short program at the 2013 Four Continents Championships in Osaka, Japan.
Ladies' short: Videos
Asada has been playing it safe this season, not putting the triple axel in her programs in competition. She hit the jump today, becoming the only skater on the ladies' side this season to successfully complete it, and skated a clean short program to lead the field by almost nine points. Her score of 74.49 is among the high short program marks of her career.
Following Asada are her two teammates, giving Japan a stranglehold of the top three spots going into the free skate. Both Akiko Suzuki and Kanako Murakami skated cleanly, hitting triple toe-triple toes to put themselves in second and third, respectively. They are separated by just over one point.
In fourth is Skate America silver medalist Christina Gao, who continues her ascent this season with a career-best short program score of 62.34 after a clean skate. She also hit a triple toe-triple toe in her effort, putting her two points ahead of teammate and U.S. silver medalist Gracie Gold. Gold turned out of her opening triple flip-triple toe and put her hand down on her solo triple lutz to score a 60.36.
U.S. bronze medalist Agnes Zawadzki fell on her double axel, as she had done in her short program at U.S. Nationals two weeks ago. She is currently in seventh, ahead of Canadian champion Kaetlyn Osmond, who saw her medal chances dashed after a fall on her solo triple flip.
LADIES (after the short program)
1. Mao Asada JPN - 74.49
2. Akiko Suzuki JPN - 65.65
3. Kanako Murakami JPN - 64.04
4. Christina Gao USA - 62.34
5. Gracie Gold USA - 60.36
6. Kexin Zhang CHN - 57.56
7. Agnes Zawadzki USA - 57.45
8. Kaetlyn Osmond CAN - 56.22
9. Amelie Lacoste CAN - 54.74
10. Zijun Li CHN - 54.51
11. Brooklee Han AUS - 48.54
12. Julianne Seguin CAN - 46.82
13. Chantelle Kerry AUS - 43.93
14. Reyna Hamui MEX - 43.72
15. Yeon Jun Park KOR - 39.78
16. Melinda Wang TPE - 39.75
17. Melissa Bulanhagui PHI - 38.58
18. Crystal Kiang TPE - 37.99
19. Lejeanne Marais RSA - 34.28
20. Ami Parekh IND - 30.07