Rachael Flatt wins silver medal in Nagoya, Japan

Rachael Flatt is headed home with hardware. On Saturday at the NHK Trophy in Nagoya, Japan, the 2010 U.S. Champion won the free skate to capture the silver medal with 161.04, coming in just behind Italy’s Carolina Kostner (164.61).

Japan’s World Junior Champion Kanako Murakami earned the bronze medal, scoring 150.16 points in her debut on the senior Grand Prix. Americans Ashley Wagner (143.73) and Caroline Zhang (133.86) placed fifth and seventh overall, coming in ahead of two-time World Champion Mao Asada, who placed eighth.

Flatt opened her routine to “Slaughter on 10th Avenue” with a double Axel-triple toe combination followed by a triple Lutz-double toe and three more clean triples, the flip, loop and Salchow. Her triple Lutz and the triple flip in her triple flip-double toe-double loop combination were downgraded.

“I’m very excited to have medalled at my first senior Grand Prix this season,” said Flatt, who ended her program with a Level 4 combination spin with change of foot. “I certainly look forward to improving.”

Overnight leader Kostner landed four triple jumps and a double Axel, but a triple loop-double toe was underrotated. “I had a lot of fun skating, but I did a lot of little mistakes and so I was not expecting to win tonight,” she said.

Murakami, who stood in second place after the short program, nailed a triple toe-triple toe combination right out of the gate in her program to “The Mask of Zorro”, but missed three jumps and slipped to third.

“I met my goal of making the podium, so I’m very happy about that, but regarding tonight’s skating, I’m not very satisfied with it,” she said. “Hopefully next time I’ll have a more satisfying performance and will be on the podium.”

Reigning U.S. Championship bronze medalist Wagner won the bronze medal at 2009 NHK Trophy but could not replicate that success this season. After starting her free skate with a rough triple flip-double toe combination that earned a negative grade of execution, the problems really started.

The second jump in her double Axel-triple toe was downgraded as were her solo triple Lutz, which also received a deduction for the wrong takeoff edge, her solo triple loop, which she fell on, and her triple loop in combination with a double toe.

Zhang started her program with a solid triple flip-double toe but on her next element, the solo triple Lutz, she was called for the wrong takeoff edge and under rotation. She singled her planned triple Salchow and triple flip before having a triple loop downgraded.

Asada, who was heavily favored to win the NHK Trophy after a 2009-10 season that included an Olympic silver medal, remained in eighth place after making errors on most jumps.  She finished in Nagoya with her lowest score ever in Grand Prix competitions, 133.40.

Asada received no points for popping the opening jump of her free skate, the triple Axel, and fell on a triple flip which would have been a combination with a double loop. After singling a triple lutz and a double axel, she fell again after a triple flip but went on to nail a triple Salchow and a triple loop.

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Photo courtesy of Leah Adams

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