• Kyodo


Shizuka Arakawa held her position with a stirring performance in the women’s free skate to finish second at the Grand Prix figure skating final Saturday in the Chinese capital of Beijing.

News photoShizuka Arakawa of Japan performs Saturday at the ISU Grand Prix final in Beijing.

Arakawa, who received a total of 160.24 points, failed to follow in the footsteps of Fumie Suguri for Japan, who won the Grand Prix final title last year.

Irina Slutskaya of Russia dominated both the free and short programs to take home her fourth overall title and first in three seasons with a final tally of 180.88.

“I think the Japanese skaters did pretty well tonight, but the score has shown my advantages on the ice, and I do not think they can give me too much of a challenge in the near future,” said Slutskaya, the 2002 world champion.

“Yes, Irina Slutskaya is back,” she said. “I am a strong competitor and I think I can compete with all the girls, all the best girls in the world.”

Miki Ando, who was fifth after the short program, moved up to finish in fourth with 151.10, while Yoshie Onda fell into fifth after her fourth-place start Friday.

“I think she (Slutskaya) did perfect tonight, and she deserved the title. I just made some mistakes this time and I hope to do better later,” Ando said.

In the pairs, Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo of China captured their second straight title with a total of 206.54.

Navaka and Kostomarov’s ice-dancing victory came at the expense of Americans Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto, who won silver.

The International Skating Union (ISU) Grand Prix finals pitted the top six ranked skaters and pairs from six rounds of competition since October.

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