Figure Skating

Wakaba Higuchi fourth after short program at Autumn Classic

KYODO

World silver medalist Wakaba Higuchi sits in fourth place after the women’s short program on Thursday at the Autumn Classic International, an ISU Challenger Series event held ahead of the Grand Prix season.

In her first international competition in the 2018-2019 season, the 17-year-old earned 57.54 points for her performance to upbeat dance track “Energia,” while Evgenia Medvedeva, who won back-to-back world titles in March, took the lead with 70.98.

Bradie Tennell of the United States is second heading into Friday’s free skate with 69.26. France’s Mae Berenice Meite is third with 58.23 and Yura Matsuda is 12th.

“I’ve been struggling for speed lately and my jumps were not clean,” said Higuchi, who over-rotated on her triple lutz and landed the triple flip on two feet.

“It wasn’t smooth and it wasn’t good. I’m worried that I won’t be able to complete my routine (tomorrow),” she said after changing her free skate music at the last minute.

The women’s free program will be held Friday after the men’s short program and the pairs free program. The ice dance free dance and men’s free program are scheduled for Saturday.

Also on Thursday, two-time Olympic gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu took part in official training as he prepared for his first competition since the Pyeongchang Games.

“I’d like to focus on each and every movement as well as quality while I perform,” said Hanyu, who is not planning on attempting a 4½-revolution quadruple axel.

“I was able to think about how to optimize performance in my current physical condition while I practiced.”