Suzuki claims her spot in Grand Prix Final
Japan’s Akiko Suzuki held off a very solid come-back of her countrywoman and 2010 World Champion Mao Asada to win NHK Trophy 2011 tonight in Sapporo, Japan.
Akiko made two mistakes in her jumping elements during her free skate but hung on to her lead from the short program and won the ladies’ title with 185.98 points overall.
Mao Asada switched her famous triple axel to a double and this, according to specialists, gave her an additional power for other elements. Asada executed five other jumps clean and hit a maximum level (four) in each of her spins.
Vancouver Olympics silver medalist finished with 1.79 points behind her teammate Suzuki. But she topped the free skate program with 125.77 against 119.43 for Akiko and 109.77 for Russia’s Alena Leonova. Leonova finished third with 170.68 points overall. She executed both of her programs at a very high level. Also notable that her jumping technique became much stronger since the beginning of a work with a famous Russian coach Nikolai Morozov.
“I feel happy about my victory but I’m not satisfied with the way I performed today,” said NHK Trophy 2011 winner. “I was alright with my first jumps and tried to build up momentum. But I under-rotated my first toe-loop in the second half and I was shaken. I could not put myself back on the track and I regret it.” she added.
Akiko Suzuki qualified for the ISU Grand Prix Final, which will bring together the top six skaters in each discipline.
Mao Asada, who competed for the first time since she finishing sixth at the 2011 World championships in Moscow, had hoped to end her gold medal drought, ongoing since March 2010.
She is the only ladies skater who regularly attempts such a complex jumping element as the triple axel but avoided the demanding jump in the free skate after she singled it in her short program.
“I failed it in the short and lost many points. My coach told me last night I would have scored more points if I did a double axel,” 2010 World Champion said. “I will rework my triple axel and I want to be able to land it again at my next Grand Prix event.” she added.
NHK Trophy 2011 – All medalists
1. Akiko Suzuki (JPN) 185.90
2. Mao Asada (JPN) 184.19
3. Alena Leonova (RUS) 170.68
1. Yuko Kavaguti / Alexander Smirnov (RUS) 177.51
2. Narumi Takahashi / Mervin Tran (JPN) 172.09
3. Aliona Savchenko / Robin Szolkowy (GER) 171.68
1. Maia Shibutani / Alex Shibutani (USA) 151.85
2. Kaitlyn Weaver / Andrew Poje (CAN) 151.76
3. Elena Ilinykh / Nikita Katsalapov (RUS) 149.48
1. Daisuke Takahashi (JPN) 259.75
2.Takahiko Kozuka (JPN) 235.02
3. Ross Miner (USA) 212.36