PARIS – Japanese teenager Mao Asada turned in a brilliant free skate performance Saturday to win her first senior figure skating title at the Trophee Bompard, the fourth leg of this year’s Grand Prix series.
The 15-year-old Asada took the lead ahead of American Sasha Cohen after Friday’s short program and sealed the gold with a program highlighted by a perfectly executed triple axel.
Dressed in a pink outfit, Asada impressed the Paris crowd with a series of jumps and won the Paris title in just her second tournament since making her senior Grand Prix debut this year.
She collected a total of 182.42 points, followed by Cohen in second with 175.12 points. The bronze went to Japanese compatriot and 2004 world champion Shizuka Arakawa with 173.30 points.
“I’m so happy that I was able to complete all of my jumps without any mistakes but I was disappointed when I messed up the final spin,” said Asada, who became the third Japanese woman to perform the triple axel last season.
Her score of 182.42 was the second highest at an international meet this season after world champion Irina Slutskaya, who won the Cup of China over Asada two weeks ago.
“I didn’t think I had a chance of winning, so I’m really surprised,” said Asada, who won four junior international titles in as many appearances last season.
The Aichi native took second at the Cup of China and booked a spot in an elite field of the Grand Prix final
Despite her Olympic-caliber showing, Asada will have to wait until 2010 for her Olympic debut due to the age regulation set by the International Skating Union.
“Next I’d like to put two triple axels in my program and make a combination with a triple jump,” she said.
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