• Kyodo

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Yukari Nakano got off to a flying start in a bid to win her first national title, taking the lead after the women’s short program at the national championships Friday.

With a near-perfect performance, Nakano scored 67.26 points, 1.96 ahead of two-time defending champion Mao Asada, and Miki Ando placed third 2.24 behind the leader at the Big Hat sports arena.

“It was one of my best short programs ever. I’d never had the lead after the short program, so I’m thrilled,” Nakano said after outscoring the winners of the past two world championships.

“I have to admit I feel pressure heading into the free skate, but I’ll just focus on four minutes of free skating tomorrow. I’ll do what I have to do and hopefully I can earn a place at the world championships,” she said.

The national meet doubles as a qualifier for the figure skating world championships in Los Angeles next March.

Asada under-rotated a second jump in her triple-triple combination early in her performance, ending up with a triple-single.

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