Higuchi places third at Trophee de France; Mao finishes ninth


Senior Grand Prix debutant Wakaba Higuchi clinched bronze while Mao Asada finished in a career-worst ninth place on Saturday, the final day of action at the Trophee de France.

Fifteen-year-old Higuchi, a student at Nihonbashi Joggakan High School, moved up from fifth after the short program a day earlier by accumulating 194.48 points overall, while Evgenia Medvedeva and Maria Sotskova completed a 1-2 finish for Russia.

Skating to “Scheherazade” by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Higuchi, a two-time World Junior bronze medalist, scored a personal best 129.46 points for her four-minute free program at AccorHotels Arena that featured a triple Lutz-triple toe combination and three more triples.

“I wasn’t expecting to stand on the podium so I’m really happy. I’m pleased with the points I got but I also made some major mistakes. I’m really eager to work on fixing those,” said Higuchi.

Meanwhile Mao, who is still recovering from a left knee injury, was far from being at her best as she placed 10th in the free skate with a series of jump mistakes and finished 55 points behind her personal best with a total of 161.39.

“I’ve lost confidence in myself but I hope I’ll be able to bounce back from this disappointment at the national championships,” Mao said, referring to the Dec. 22-25 competition in Osaka.

“I’ll have to be determined and have a strong will,” the 26-year-old said.

Also for Japan, Yuka Nagai finished in 10th.

In the men’s event that was won by Javier Fernandez of Spain who earned 285.38 points, Japan’s best performance came from Takahito Mura, who was fifth with 248.42.