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Miyahara skates last, skates best in ladies short

Park of South Korea earns second; Hicks leads Americans in fourth

Satoko Miyahara of Japan tallied a score of 54.76 to lead the ladies field by 2.43 points.
Satoko Miyahara of Japan tallied a score of 54.76 to lead the ladies field by 2.43 points. (Daphne Backman)

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By Josh Ellis, special to icenetwork.com
(08/31/2012) - Skating as the 25th and final competitor of the ladies short program, Satoko Miyahara of Japan saved the best for last, as she earned 54.76 points to take first place at the 2012 JGP Lake Placid on Friday evening.

Miyahara, the reigning Japanese junior champion, in her second season on the JGP series, was the lone competitor to land a triple-triple combination. She opened her program with a triple Lutz-triple toe, which earned 9.50 points, the highest-scoring single element of the event. Her combination, along with her triple flip and two Level 4 spins, helped her earn the lead, but she expects more in the free skate on Saturday.

"I didn't have a miss, but it wasn't my best," Miyahara said. "I want to do my best in the free skate."

In second after the short program is So Youn Park of South Korea, who earned 52.33 points. Park was one of just two skaters in the competition to earn positive grades of execution (GOE) throughout her program.

Opening with a triple Salchow-double toe combination which earned 6.30 points, Park executed throughout, earning two Level 3 spins and a Level 4 spin. She will look to earn her first medal in a JGP competition on her third attempt in the free skate.

In third is Evgenia Gerasimova of Russia, who skated to a total of 52.30 points in her short program. Gerasimova is making her JGP debut after finishing 12th last year at the Russian championships.

Gerasimova opened her program with triple Lutz-double toe, which earned a negative GOE, but boosted her score with the highest program components score of the competition. Throughout the remainder of her skate, she landed a clean triple flip and earned Level 4s on two of her spins.

Just outside the top three are the three Americans.

Courtney Hicks, who is coming off a broken leg at JGP Italy last season, is in fourth with 51.36 points. Hicks, skating to "Korobushka," has made a full recovery from her injury and has been back on the ice and jumping since February of this year. She's happy to be back.

"To be able to skate like that after coming back from the injury I had was very good for me," Hicks said. "It's nice to be back competing again."

Hicks is in medal contention, despite struggling on her opening element. However, she recovered nicely and finished with six elements that each received a positive GOE. She is hoping for another solid performance and is planning big things on Saturday in the free skate.

"I am going to be attempting a triple-triple and then hopefully just some great skating," Hicks said.

One place behind Hicks is Kiri Baga, who is in fifth after earning 47.80 points for her short program. Baga returns to the JGP after a year away dealing with injuries, but she is thrilled to be back.

"It's really exciting to be invited," Baga said. "It's exciting to be here with so many countries, and this is a great rink to skate in."

Baga, like Hicks, opened her program with a mistake, but she didn't let that affect the remainder of her performance.

"I was pretty happy with my skate," Baga said. "I had a minor detail on my flip, but I felt really good about everything else, and I felt like I really brought the performance, which always feels good."

Currently in eighth, Angela Wang -- who has been blogging throughout the event for icenetwork.com -- rounds out the trio of Americans with 44.71 points.