• Kyodo


Japanese teenager Mao Asada made a bright start in her senior Grand Prix debut after taking second place in the women’s short program at the Cup of China on Thursday.

News photoJapan’s Mao Asada, the world junior champion in 2004, performs a spin during her short program at the Cup of China on Thursday night in Beijing. Asada is in second place going into the free skate.

The 15-year-old Asada, last year’s world junior champion, skated an error-free program that earned her 62.92 points for second behind leader Irina Slutskaya of Russia (70.22).

Japan’s Shizuka Arakawa, the 2004 world champion, finished in third place on 57.56.

Asada was delighted with what she described as a “100-point performance.”

“I am the youngest skater here and there isn’t an Olympic berth or anything like that at stake so I just thought I would go out there and give a lively display,” said Asada.

“I landed all my jumps and enjoyed my skating. Hopefully, I can land a triple axel in the free skate,” she added.

Compatriot Arakawa was disappointed with her skate but hopeful she could turn things around in the free program.

“There weren’t any major flaws in my skate, but I didn’t seem to be able to get in time with the music,” said Arakawa, the 2004 world champion.

“I couldn’t focus properly on my jumps and other parts of my routine,” she shrugged.

Russia also took the top slots in the pairs short program and the ice dance compulsory event.

Maria Petrova and Alexei Tikhonov won the pairs, while Tatiana Navka and Roman Kostomarov moved to the top of the table after the ice dance.

Michelle Kwan pulled out the event with a strained hip.

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