Figure Skating

Wakaba Higuchi earns women's runner-up spot at Cup of China; Alina Zagitova claims title

Kyodo

Wakaba Higuchi claimed second place after the women’s free program on Saturday at the Cup of China.

Second after Friday’s short program, Higuchi scored 141.99 points in a clean long skate at Capital Stadium to close with a total of 212.52 points, just 1.36 behind Russian winner Alina Zagitova.

“I was so happy the moment I finished as I knew I’d completed my performance without making any mistakes,” said the 16-year-old Higuchi, whose podium finish was her second in succession after taking third at the GP season-opening Cup of Russia last month.

“I looked at the score and saw (the margin) between first and second was only a little over a point and that was really frustrating. (But) I was able to put everything out there that I have been doing in practice,” she said.

Zagitova came back from fourth in the short program to win the title with 213.88 points. Compatriot Elena Radionova was third with 206.82.

Mai Mihara (206.7), skating in her first Grand Prix event of the season, and Marin Honda (198.32) were fourth and fifth, respectively.

“I got a really high score looking at the way I skated today,” said Four Continents champion Mihara, who was seventh after the short program.

“I was a little down after the short program but (today) I was able to control my emotions well.”

Honda, however, felt she could have done better in the free skate.

“I am not satisfied but it was good that I was able to keep my mistakes to a minimum,” said Honda, who finished fifth in her GP debut at Skate Canada last week. “I feel like I have regained my confidence.”

In the men’s event, Keiji Tanaka dropped from fourth in the short program to finish seventh with 247.17 points.

Russia’s Mikhail Kolyada held onto his lead to win with 279.38. China’s Jin Boyang was second with 264.48 and American Max Aaron was third with 259.69.

Two-time world champion Javier Fernandez, third after the short program, had an error-strewn free skate and dropped down to sixth with 253.06.

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