Japan’s Mao Asada has won her third women’s world figure skating title before a roaring home crowd, springing back from a disappointing result at last month’s Sochi Olympics.
Russia’s 15-year-old European champion Julia Lipnitskaia finished second and Italian veteran and Olympic bronze medallist Carolina Kostner took third at the world championships in Saitama, near Tokyo.
Asada, the 2008 and 2010 world champion, finished sixth in Sochi landing her trademark triple axel, fighting back from a disastrous 16th spot in the short program.
The 23-year-old, who broke her South Korean rival Kim Yu-Na’s world short program record on Thursday, made a few minor jumping mistakes in the free skate of what could be the last competition of her career.
But she excelled in other elements, hitting a maximum level-four in three spins and a step sequence to collect a table-topping 138.03 points.
Her total of 216.69 points was her personal best, breaking the previous mark of 207.59 she set last November for Japan’s NHK Trophy.
“I have regrets on the one mistake I made today but I think I could control myself and I have done what I have to do,” she said on Saturday.
“But overall I am very satisfied with my performance.”
Asada, the only skater who regularly attempts the technically demanding but high-scoring triple axel in top competitions, under-rotated the 3.5-rotation jump in her opening element, skating to the music of Piano Concerto No.2 in C minor by Sergei Rachmaninov.
She also under-rotated her next jump, a triple flip, in a combination with a triple loop, and took a triple lutz off the wrong edge.
But her graceful spins, steps and spirals were enough to send a sell-out crowd of 18,200 to their feet at the Super Arena which also saw men’s Olympic champion and compatriot Yuzuru Hanyu win his first world title overnight.