Mao Asada wins figure skating gold at Cup of China
Canadian pairs post top-10 finishes
Three-time world champion Mao Asada won the Cup of China on Saturday, completing a successful return to the Grand Prix series after taking a year off.
The Japanese skater led after the short program and was third in Saturday's free skate to finish with 197.48 points, edging out compatriot Rika Hongo who was second with 195.76. World championship bronze medallist Yelena Radionova of Russia was third with 184.28.
Lubov Iliushechkina and Dylan Moscovitch led the Canadian contingent with a seventh-place finish in pairs.
It was their first competition since partnering in 2014.
"It wasn't the skates we were hoping for," Moscovitch told reporters. "But it is just the beginning of the season and there is still a lot of work to be done.
"Today we upped our speed and our twist in the short was definitely a step up. We just need to get more mileage in."
Quebec's Vanessa Grenier and Maxime Deschamps posted a personal best score in the short program, free skate and overall score at 159.34 for eighth place.
World champion Javier Fernandez of Spain won the men's event with 270.55 points while Canada's Elladj Balde of Pierrefonds, Que., was 11th. Balde has been slowed by a flu bug that affected his training since he won gold in September at the Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany.
"It was a difficult evening but better than the short [program]," said Balde. "But I couldn't get any rhythm in my training since my victory. I was happy to come back here but you could see today in the second half of my free skate, the fatigue started to set in."
Asada falls, penalized for late start
Meanwhile, Asada opened with her trademark triple axel, as she did in the short program, but fell on the second half of a triple flip-triple loop combination. She landed forward on a triple lutz and was penalized for a late start.
"I wasn't satisfied today," Asada said. "I feel like there are areas that need working on in the free program but I have taken one step toward the Grand Prix Final [in December]."
Asada, the 2010 Olympic silver medallist , took a year off from competitive skating but announced in May she would make a comeback. She will next skate in front of home fans at the NHK Trophy starting on Nov. 27 in Nagano.
Hongo had seven triple jumps but stepped out of a triple loop. Radionova had a strong free skate after finishing sixth in the short program. Her only major mistake was falling on a triple lutz.
China's Boyang Jin finished well behind Fernandez on the men's side, scoring 261.23. Han Yan, also of China, was third with 230.33.
Fernandez, who was first after the short program, executed a quad loop to start his routine. Boyang attempted an ambitious program with a planned four quads but faltered on three of them.
Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte of Italy won the ice dance event, finishing first in the free dance for 173.30 points. Madison Chock and Evan Bates of the United States were second with 169.16 followed by Elena Ilinykh and Ruslan Zhiganshin of Russia with 159.00.
The fourth stop on the ISU Grand Prix circuit is Nov. 13-14 in Bordeaux, France.
With files from CBCSports.ca