Figure Skating

Wakaba Higuchi finishes second in women's short program at Cup of China

Kyodo

Wakaba Higuchi placed second in the women’s short program on Friday at the Cup of China, the third event of the Grand Prix series.

Higuchi, third at the season-opening Cup of Russia last month, scored 70.53 points at Capital Stadium to finish behind Canada’s Gabrielle Daleman.

Daleman, last season’s world bronze medalist, scored 70.65 while Russia’s Elena Radionova was third with 70.48.

“Overall I was able to skate well,” Higuchi said. “I was able to focus on my performance.

“I am happy that I was able to get more than 70 points. If I hadn’t made some small mistakes on my spins and steps, I would have scored even more.”

Also for Japan, Marin Honda scored 66.90 for sixth place ahead of compatriot Mai Mihara.

Mihara, skating in her first Grand Prix event of the season, also had 66.90, but Honda was one place above her because of a better technical score.

All three Japanese skaters are among the contenders for the nation’s two women’s spots for the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics in February.

“There is still the free skate so I am going to try and not think about it,” Higuchi said in reference to being the top-ranked Japanese female after the short program.

In the men’s short program, Keiji Tanaka placed fourth with 87.19 points.

Russia’s Mikhail Kolyada leads with 103.13 points while China’s Jin Boyang and Spain’s two-time world champion Javier Fernandez were second and third with scores of 93.89 and 90.57, respectively.

“Considering that I am coming back from (an anterior hip muscle) injury I think I skated well,” said Tanaka. “I skated without fear and so I am moving in the right direction.

“(But) I have to be looking to getting points up in the 90s range, so I can’t be completely satisfied.”