HELSINKI – Fourteen-year-old Mao Asada claimed her first title at the figure skating Junior Grand Prix Final on Saturday, marking the fourth straight year a Japanese skater has won the Grand Prix season finale of the junior division.
Junior national champion Asada, who led after the women’s short program Friday, earned a total of 172.83 points after a flawless free skate which featured a clean triple axel and won with a wide margin over second-place Kim Yu Na of South Korea.
Kim had 137.75 points and Kimmie Meissner of the United States was third with 133.14.
“I surprised myself when I landed the triple axel,” said Asada, who became the first skater to successfully execute the 3 1/2-rotation jump in a major competition for juniors.
“I want to practice hard so I can continue to skate with no mistakes as I did today. I want to make my performance more complete,” she said.
Fellow-Japanese Miki Ando won the Junior Grand Prix Final in 2001 and 2003, and Yukina Ota was the winner in 2002.
Also for Japan, Akiko Kitamura finished sixth, Aki Sawada seventh and Nana Takeda eighth.
In the junior men’s division, short program leader Yasuharu Nanri let a win slip away after falling on a triple jump attempt and had to settle for second and Ryo Shibata was fourth. American Dennis Phan won the top honors.