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Mao takes 1st from Miki at national c'ships


Teenage star Mao Asada moved into position for her first national title after taking the lead over Miki Ando in the women’s short program at the National Figure Skating Championships on Thursday.

News photoTeenage Star Mao Asada performs in the women’s short program during Thursday’s National Figure Skating Championships at Nagoya’s Rainbow Hall. Asada ranked first after the short program.

Asada, who missed out on a second consecutive Grand Prix Final title after surrendering her lead in Russia just under two weeks ago, produced a flawless skate at Rainbow Hall in Nagoya to top the standings with 71.14 points.

“I am really pleased as I performed even better than I did at the NHK Trophy,” said Asada, who won the NHK title with the highest ever score in women’s figure skating in Nagano this month.

“I was able to stay composed. I want to do a triple axel in the free program and win the title with an error-free skate,” she added.

Asada’s score bettered the world’s highest mark of 71.12 set by American Sasha Cohen at Skate Canada in 2003, although it will not be recognized by the International Skating Union as it was recorded at a domestic event.

Ando, who upstaged Asada at Skate America to win the season-opening event in October, had 69.50 to eclipse the personal best 67.52 she scored at the Grand Prix Final.

“Home support gave me extra strength and I’m glad my skate was rated so highly,” said Ando, whose performance at the Grand Prix Final was affected by illness. “The last couple of days I feel I’ve been able to skate well again.”

Yukari Nakano placed third on 63.34 and was followed by Yoshie Onda in fourth but defending champion Fumie Suguri’s hopes of capturing a sixth national crown took a hit after a slow start left her in fifth place.

“I wasted points with mistakes on my jumps but I didn’t think the rest of my performance was that bad,” said Suguri.

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