Chen, Ki­hira win in France to reach fi­nal

Amer­i­can shows his con­fi­dence, win­ning by 15 points in Grand Prix event

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - FRONT PAGE -

GRENO­BLE, FRANCE — World cham­pion Nathan Chen won the last round of fig­ure skat­ing’s Grand Prix se­ries and se­cured a spot in next month’s fi­nal with a pul­sat­ing free skate at the In­ter­na­tionaux de France on Satur­day.

Ooz­ing con­fi­dence de­spite an un­tidy short pro­gram on Fri­day, the Amer­i­can skater out­classed the field in scor­ing 184.64 for an event-win­ning to­tal of 271.58. He won by 15 points.

Vic­tory en­sured him a spot in the Dec. 6-9 fi­nal in Van­cou­ver, Canada, re­served for the top six skaters or pairs in each dis­ci­pline from the Grand Prix se­ries.

Chen also won the se­ries’ first event, Skate Amer­ica, in Oc­to­ber.

On the women’s side, 16-year-old Rika Ki­hira was a con­vinc­ing win­ner, with a free skate packed with triple jumps and grace. The Ja­pa­nese skater booked her fi­nals berth with an over­all score of 205.92. Ki­hira also won this month in the Ja­pa­nese leg, the NHK Tro­phy.

Mai Mi­hara of Ja­pan was sec­ond over­all, not enough to make the fi­nal, with an over­all score of 202.81. Amer­i­can skater Bradie Ten­nell’s good free skate bumped her up to third, with an over­all 197.78.

Also miss­ing out on the fi­nal was a very out of sorts Ev­ge­nia Medvedeva. The for­mer two-time world cham­pion and Olympic sil­ver medal­ist from Rus­sia had an er­ror-strewn free skate and fin­ished fourth over­all with 192.81.

Among the men, 19-year-old Chen’s free skate fea­tured three tough quad jumps.

Coun­try­man Ja­son Brown was sec­ond over­all, plac­ing third in the free skate with a more pedes­trian rou­tine that lacked quads. Brown also avoided quads in win­ning the short pro­gram on Fri­day. His over­all score was 256.33.

Third over­all was Alexan­der Sa­marin of Rus­sia.

Nei­ther Brown nor Sa­marin fin­ished among the se­ries’ top six.

In pairs, Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres of France won the free skate for over­all vic­tory, se­cur­ing their ticket for the fi­nal. Tarah Kayne and Danny O’Shea of the United States were sec­ond, ahead of the third-placed Rus­sian pair of Alek­san­dra Boikova and Dmitrii Ko­zlovskii.

In ice dance, the French pair of Gabriella Pa­padakis and Guil­laume Cize­ron was un­touch­able, win­ning the free dance after win­ning the rhythm dance on Fri­day.

But the three-time world cham­pi­ons and Olympic sil­ver medal­ists will not be at the fi­nal, hav­ing missed the pre­vi­ous five events in the Grand Prix se­ries.

Vic­to­ria Sinitsina and Nikita Kat­salapov will be in Van­cou­ver, hav­ing se­cured their spot with sec­ond place.

Fin­ish­ing fourth in France was enough for Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker to also qual­ify for the fi­nal. The Amer­i­can cou­ple pre­vi­ously won in the NHK Tro­phy.

But Cana­di­ans Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier missed out, with their third place in Greno­ble not enough for a fi­nals berth.

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