TAIPEI – Satoko Miyahara set a personal best with a total score of 214.91 as she cruised to her first Four Continents Championship title on Saturday.
Having led by nearly four points from her best career short program two days ago with 72.48, Miyahara nailed all seven of her free program jumps. She received a standing ovation from the Taipei Arena crowd for a performance that received 142.43 points.
“I was a bit nervous and remained so until the last jump, but am relieved not to have made any big mistakes,” said Miyahara, who finished second last year. “With elements I can always execute for the free skate, I skated aggressively, but was able to concentrate and remain calm.
“I was first here after the short program for the first time last year and that got me unsettled but the fact that I could perform calmly in the same situation this year is the biggest positive.”
Miyahara was runnerup in her maiden Grand Prix Final in December and now heads to the world championships, which start in late March in Boston, on a high note, alongside three-time winner Mao Asada and Rika Hongo, who was third in this competition for the second straight year.
Starting in fourth place after her free skate, the 19-year-old Hongo failed to land her opening triple combination but recovered well to land her four triple jumps and showed some brisk steps as she skated to an Irish theme, adding 117.51 points for a total of 181.78. American Mirai Nagasu was runnerup 193.86.
“I wasn’t sure if I could reach the podium right after finishing but I’m relieved I’m somehow there,” Hongo said. “Failing with my triple combination frustrates me the most, I feel I’ve grown in continuing to execute all the rest but it is best not to make mistakes and I’ll practice ahead of the worlds.”
Kanako Murakami entered the free skate in second, but touched the ice slightly following her initial triple Lutz and lost her balance on her triple flip. She didn’t make any standout mistakes, but her technical score dragged her down to 106.61. She finished seventh with 175.12.
Gracie Gold of the United States improved on her ninth-place finish in the short program to come in fifth with 178.39 points.
“I’m not sure what happens in the short,” Gold said. “But there is something in the free program that is much more calming for me.”