GRENOBLE, FRANCE – Mai Mihara grabbed the top spot in the women’s short program on Friday at the Internationaux de France, edging Rika Kihira to take a narrow lead in the sixth and final leg of this season’s Grand Prix series.
Mihara scored 67.95 points and Kihira received 67.64. Russian two-time world champion Evgenia Medvedeva was third with 67.55 and Marin Honda had a personal-best short program score of 65.37 for fourth.
Skating to “It’s Magic,” Mihara nailed a triple flip and a double axel but under-rotated her triple lutz-triple toe loop.
“I am disappointed that I under-rotated my triple combination jump,” Mihara said. “My target was to score at least 70 points and I wasn’t able to reach it.
“Hopefully I will be able to produce my best-ever performance in the free skate.”
Skating to “Clair de Lune,” Kihira, who won the NHK Trophy earlier this month in her senior Grand Prix debut, had a triple flip-triple toe and a triple lutz but singled her planned triple axel.
“I was in a good state mentally so it (the triple axel miss) was a technical issue,” the 16-year-old Kihira said. “I really want to try to turn things around in the free skate.
In the men’s short program, Jason Brown built a solid lead without attempting a quad jump.
The American skater was rewarded for his crisp technique and flowing ease in landing four triple jumps en route to 96.41 points.
His rivals, meanwhile, were penalized for failing to cleanly execute more difficult quads.
Alexander Samarin of Russia goes into the free skate on Saturday trailing Brown by nearly six points. Samarin fluffed the landing of his opening quad lutz but quickly recovered and scored 90.86.
World champion Nathan Chen fell on his second jump, a quad flip, and was third with 86.94.
In the pairs, Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii lead going into the free skate. The Russians scored 68.83 in the short program. North Koreans Tae Ok Ryom and Ju Sik Kim earned 67.18 for second, followed by French pair Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres (65.24).
In ice dance, Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France outlassed the field in the rhythm dance. The three-time world champions and Olympic silver medalists scored 84.13 with their sultry and intense crowd-pleasing short dance to “Tango: Oblivion” and “Primavera Porteno” by Astor Piazzolla.
The Russian pair of Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov was second with 77.91, followed by Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, who scored 74.25.