Mar 27, 2014, 7:56 AM EDT
This time there was no room for tears, no room for dreams dashed on the world stage, no regretting what she had done as soon as it was over.
Just a month after veteran Mao Asada skated herself out of medal contention at the Sochi Olympics, the two-time world champion brought her A-game – and set a new world record – at the World Figure Skating Championships Thursday in Saitama, Japan.
The 23-year-old home favorite didn’t shy away from the triple Axel that abandoned her in Sochi and left her in 16th place, instead attacking it with gusto to open her Chopin short program, then executing a triple flip and a triple-double combination to score a 78.66, topping Yuna Kim’s 78.50 record from the Vancouver Games.
Asada, the Vancouver silver medalist, who ended up sixth after a brave free skate in Sochi, topped the leaderboard after an enthralling and emotional ladies short program in front of over 20,000 ardent fans at the Saitama Super Arena.
Fellow veteran Carolina Kostner, who at 27 won her first Olympic medal last month (bronze), continued her inspiring run at the twilight of her career, skating to a 77.24, a personal best by three points.
Kostner finished in second behind Asada while 15-year-old Yulia Lipnitskaya, the phenom who helped Russia to a team gold at the Olympics, was in third, skating to a 74.54.
Reigning national champion Gracie Gold was good if not great in her short program, scoring a 70.21 to land in fifth place. Ashley Wagner finished in seventh place while 15-year-old Polina Edmunds was 12th.
“That’s a pretty good score,” Gold said matter-of-factly to coach Frank Carroll after seeing the marks, her best-ever.
It wasn’t a best-ever for two-time U.S. winner Wagner, who appeared tired during her short program that left her in seventh. The 22-year-old was downgraded on her triple-triple combination, costing her valuable points and leaving her outside of the medal conversation.
Solid night…typical Ash Wags move two footing the triple toe…gotta just chop off that leg! Great end to my absolute favorite short ever!
— Ashley Wagner (@AshWagner2010) March 27, 2014
San Jose-based Edmunds was ninth in Sochi, but sits just two points outside of eighth, five skaters separated by 2.33 points.
Gold, meanwhile, is still within striking distance of the podium at 4.23 points back from third place.
“I’m looking forward to skating it clean and being on my feet for all my jumps and really nailing the spins,” she said about her free skate in a U.S. Figure Skating statement. “Especially the last minute of my program when all the hard tricks are done and just enjoying myself at my second Worlds.”
“It’s been a long season and I’m exhausted,” Wagner said in the same statement. “Mentally, it’s tough to go out and compete after I’ve given all I could this season. I’m ready to wrap this season, go home and start working on some stuff next season when I want to come back stronger than ever.”
Reigning Olympic gold medalist Adelina Sotnikova pulled out of the event last week, the Russian skating federation saying the 17-year-old was resting and recuperating for the following season. Silver medal winner Yuna Kim has officially retired.
The controversy from Sotnikova’s win lingered in Saitama. The Japanese audience, ever supportive and knowledgeable, met Lipnitskaya with lukewarm applause as she took to the ice.
The crowd, however, roared for Asada, who has said this will be her last competitive event. She’ll skate Saturday in Japan for a third world title (2008, 2010) and in a much different position than in Sochi: she was 16th after the short program there. Here, she’s the frontrunner.
Ladies short program standings
1. Mao ASADA JPN 78.66
2. Carolina KOSTNER ITA 77.24
3. Yulia LIPNITSKAYA RUS 74.54
4. Akiko SUZUKI JPN 71.02
5. Gracie GOLD USA 70.31
6. Anna POGORILAYA RUS 66.26
7. Ashley WAGNER USA
12. Polina EDMUNDS USA 60.59
Apr 28, 2015, 1:41 PM EDT
“My mission in life has never seemed clearer.”
Apr 28, 2015, 10:02 AM EDT
The IOC will also provide assistance to the Himalayan nation.
Apr 28, 2015, 9:42 AM EDT
The U.S. has one more preliminary game left before the medal round.
Apr 27, 2015, 7:00 PM EDT
The U.S. can move closer to clinching a semifinal berth.
Apr 27, 2015, 1:40 PM EDT
The five-time Olympic medalist also discussed getting to know Mark Spitz in a Q&A.
Apr 27, 2015, 12:28 PM EDT
Austrian Alpine skiers with eight combined Olympic medals also got hitched.
Apr 27, 2015, 9:17 AM EDT
The U.S. is back on the ice on Monday night on NBC Sports Live Extra.
Apr 27, 2015, 8:45 AM EDT
The 2026 Olympics could be particularly meaningful for ski jumping’s old man.
Apr 27, 2015, 8:29 AM EDT
Lee captured silver medals at the last two Olympics but was stripped of a World Championships medal.
Apr 26, 2015, 7:00 PM EDT
The U.S. beat Russia in the Sochi Paralympic final.
Apr 26, 2015, 7:55 AM EDT
Also, Paula Radcliffe was interviewed by the BBC in the middle of her marathon farewell.
Apr 25, 2015, 11:10 AM EDT
The U.S.’ first opponent marks a rematch of the Sochi gold-medal game.
Apr 25, 2015, 10:33 AM EDT
Only two men have ever run faster this early in the season.
Apr 25, 2015, 9:08 AM EDT
ISAF official says demands will be made.
Apr 25, 2015, 8:53 AM EDT
Jenner explained how he felt different while winning the decathlon at the Montreal 1976 Olympics.
Apr 24, 2015, 3:51 PM EDT
Several Olympic champions are in the fields at the two meets.
Apr 24, 2015, 3:50 PM EDT
Phelps has followed Bowman to an NCAA stop before.
Apr 24, 2015, 12:24 PM EDT
Biles is in the middle of a four-month break from competition.
Apr 24, 2015, 11:09 AM EDT
Sweeney and Team USA begin World Championship play Sunday.
Apr 24, 2015, 10:26 AM EDT
NBC’s figure skating analysts will be visible daily during Kentucky Derby week.
- Missy Franklin on her dream relay, unusual autographs, ‘the worm’ 0
- Tanith Belbin, Charlie White get married 2
- Bruce Jenner: I’m a woman; Olympians react 5
- Michael Phelps to move to Arizona with coach Bob Bowman 0
- Simone Biles discusses Martha Karolyi’s team selfie, U.S. teammates, more 0
- Usain Bolt: Tyson Gay’s reduced ban ‘the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard’ 0
- Doug E. Doug reflects on ‘Cool Runnings’ 0
- Emotional Bode Miller medals in race that mattered most (61)
- Russian women kissing after relay victory at World Championships causes stir (60)
- IOC drops wrestling from 2020 Olympics (47)
- South Korea filing official complaint over Yuna Kim’s Olympic silver (39)
- Zola Budd, 47, dominates college runners in 5K (33)