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Wagner fourth at Final

Ashley WagnerIn her last appearance before the 2010 U.S. Championships, Ashley Wagner was just a point off her personal best free skate, scoring 107.81 points Saturday at the Grand Prix Final in Tokyo, Japan. She finished fourth in the free, pulling up to fourth place overall following a sixth place short program.

World Champion Yu-Na Kim of Korea won her third competition of the season, taking the Grand Prix Final gold medal 188.86, pulling up from second place following her first place free skate. Japan’s Miki Ando and Akiko Suzuki captured the silver and bronze medals with 185.94 and 174.00, respectively, while Wagner had 162.07.

“I felt I held myself back a little in the short,” said Wagner, who was the only American woman to qualify for the competition. “I wanted to let go more in the free. That was my major goal. There was overall improvement even though I still have some work to do.”

She landed six triples in her program to Borodin’s “Polovetsian Dances,” although her second flip, in the triple flip-double Axel sequence, was downgraded and her Lutz had an edge call. Two of her spins were Level 4 and another was Level 3. For her spiral sequence, she received a Level 3 and also earned a Level 2 on her step sequence.

Kim landed four clean triples and three double Axels in her program to George Gershwin’s “Concerto in F” to score 123.22 points, securing her third Grand Prix Final title.

“Today in the practice my blades hit each other and got flat,” Kim said. “I fixed it but it’s still a little bit not too comfortable to skate with. So I tried to forget about it, but even though my performance was not perfect, it was OK. I didn’t give up and that led to this wonderful result. I think it was a good fight for the Olympics. And as could keep up my strength, I found some self-confidence again.”

In the pairs competition, Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao of China continued their successful comeback with their third gold medal in as many competitions. The husband-and-wife team nailed a triple toe and showed a rare forward outside death spiral to earn not only a personal best of 138.89 points for their lyrical program to “Adagio,” but also to post a new record total score of 214.25 points.

China’s Qing Pang and Jian Tong claimed the silver medal after finishing on the top of the podium last season. The 2006 World Champions broke 200 points  for the first time in their career with a total of 201.86 points, putting them ahead of the reigning World Champions. Germans Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy dropped to third at 200.38 points after she failed to complete the opening triple toe-triple toe sequence and stumbled on the throw triple flip.

The Grand Prix Final is the culmination of the 2009 International Skating Union (ISU) Grand Prix of Figure Skating circuit. The series, now in its 15th season, consists of six international events in a cumulative, point-scoring format. The top six scoring athletes in each discipline moved onto the Final.

The six Grand Prix events are Trophee Eric Bompard, Oct. 15-18, in Paris, France; Rostelecom Cup, Oct. 22-25, in Moscow Russia; Cup of China, Oct. 29-Nov. 1, in Beijing, China; NHK Trophy, Nov. 5-8, in Nagano, Japan; Skate America, Nov. 12-15, in Lake Placid, N.Y.; and Skate Canada, Nov. 19-22, in Kitchener, Canada.

The points toward the Grand Prix Final that are awarded for each place are 15 points for first; 13 points for second; 11 points for third; nine points for fourth; seven points for fifth; five points for sixth place; four points for seventh place; and three points for eighth. In pair skating, only the top six receive points.


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