COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO – Japan’s Mao Asada had to make do with a runner-up finish as newly crowned U.S. champion Ashley Wagner came from behind to win her first international title at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships on Saturday.
Two-time former world champion Asada had established a slim lead over Wagner after Friday’s short program but she under-rotated her opening triple axel and also put a hand on the ice trying to land a triple lutz, while Wagner enjoyed an elegant, error-free skate to win with a career-high total of 192.41 points.
Asada, who posted a courageous victory at the national championships in December just weeks after the death of her mother, scored 188.62 while American Caroline Zhang was third with 176.18.
Former junior world champion Kanako Murakami was a distant fourth with 169.32 and injury-affected Haruka Imai ended up in ninth place.
“It is a shame (about the triple axel downgrade) but I think the fact that I went for it really is a plus for me,” said Asada.
Asada’s runner-up finish in the last international event before next month’s world championships in Nice, France came a day after compatriot Daisuke Takahashi also finished second in the men’s program — almost 30 points behind reigning world champion Patrick Chan of Canada.
“My goal at the world championships is to land a triple axel in both the short program and the free skate and iron out the creases in my free skate,” said Asada.
Narumi Takahashi and Mervin Tran were fourth in the pairs short program won by China’s Sui Wenjing and Han Cong. The ice dance short dance was won by U.S. champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White.