Figure Skating

Satoko Miyahara, Kaori Sakamoto finish 1-2 at Skate America

Kyodo, AFP-JIJI, AP

Satoko Miyahara started the 2018 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating series on a winning note Sunday after claiming the Skate America title for the second year in a row.

Miyahara’s score of 145.85 in the women’s free skate put her on top of the podium at the Angel of the Winds Arena, following her first-place finish in the short program on Saturday. She earned a two-day total of 219.71 and picked up her third Grand Prix victory.

“I was nervous during the performance, so I’m glad,” Miyahara said. “The best thing was that there wasn’t a lack of turns in my jumps at this tournament.”

Kaori Sakamoto repeated as runner-up with 142.85 in the free skate and 213.90 overall, while Russia’s Sofia Samodurova earned bronze with 198.70.

Marin Honda, who finished fourth in Saturday’s short program, placed ninth in the free skate and ended up eighth overall to round out the Japanese competitors at the three-day season opener.

Miyahara became the first woman to win back-to-back titles at Skate America since South Korean Yuna Kim in 2008-09.

She had to pull out all the stops after Sakamoto, lying second after the short program, skated just before her and threw down a challenge with an accomplished free skate packed with jumps that briefly moved her to the top of the standings.

In ice dance, world silver medalists Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue of the United States broke the 200-point total for the first time in their long career together to capture the gold medal.

The previous best for the two Americans, who have been skating together since 2011, are defending U.S. champions and competed at the Pyeongchang Olympics, was 197.42 at last month’s U.S. International Classic in Salt Lake City, which they won.

“I think there have been a million beautiful ‘Romeo and Juliet’ interpretations,” Hubbell said. “But I think there’s something special Zach and I can bring to this with the raw emotion and absolute intensity that goes into dying for the person you love. So we’ll see where it goes.”