Japan’s Miyahara captures Skate America crown


NEW YORK: Satoko Miyahara reached the top of the podium for the first time in two years by leading a one-two Japanese sweep at the 2017 Skate American competition on Sunday.

The 2015 world silver medallist beat out runnerup Kaori Sakamoto by 13.44 points after winning Sunday’s free skate at the Herb Brooks Arena in Lake Placid, New York.

Miyahara finished first in both Saturday’s short programme and the free skate for a combined score of 214.03 points.

Sakamoto, who dazzled the crowd with her skating to “Amelie” by Yann Tiersen, finished second with 210.59 points.

American Bradie Tennell was a distant third with 204.10 points, while Russia’s Polina Tsurskaya placed fourth with 195.56.

Russian rising star Serafima Sakhanovich, 17, rounded out the top five, finishing with 189.75 points.

Performing a graceful and finely-tuned programme to “Madame Butterfly” by Giacomo Puccini, the 19-year-old Miyahara won the crowd over with her complex footwork and artful jumps.

After missing much of last season while coping with a bone density deficit that caused a series of stress fractures and bone inflammations in her pelvis, hip and foot, the three-time Japanese champion announced her return to top form Sunday.

Sakhanovich, who is coached by 2010 Olympic champion Evgeni Plushenko, also skated a clean programme to “Adagio” by Joaquin Rodrigo.

World bronze medallist Gabrielle Daleman of Canada struggled through her routine and placed a disappointing sixth.

It was a night American Ashley Wagner would like to forget. The three-time US champion abruptly stopped skating during her long programme and then withdrew, citing an ankle injury.

Earlier in the day, two-time world medallists Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani turned back the clock and claimed the gold medal in Ice Dance.

The 2014 World champions Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte of Italy claimed the silver medal and the bronze went to Russia’s Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov.

The Skate America was the sixth and last event in the ISU Grand Prix Figure Skating series and marked the final chance for skaters to qualify for the Grand Prix Final in Nagoya, Japan, in December.