MOSCOW, November 2 (R-Sport) - Chinese 17-year-old figure skater Han Yan leapt to his first Grand Prix title in front of his home crowd in Beijing on Saturday, while Russia’s Maxim Kovtun staked a claim for a place at the Olympics with second place.
Skating to Strauss’ “Blue Danube,” Yan fell on his opening quadruple jump and underrotated a triple flip but was bailed out by his 10-point lead from the short program, finishing with a total of 245.62 to become the first Chinese individual skater, male or female, to win his home Grand Prix.
Han’s winning total was seven points more than Kovtun, who is regarded as the main threat to Turin Olympic champion Evgeny Plushenko claiming Russia’s sole men’s slot at February’s Winter Games in Sochi.
Kovtun’s trademark jumping skill was on full display as he posted the best free skate with 156.81, landing both the quads in his program. The 18-year-old had never previously finished higher than fifth at a Grand Prix event.
Third place went to Japan’s Takahiko Kozuka on 226.92 after his hopes of a medal evaporated with a flawed free skate in which he did not perform his scheduled opening quad.
Kazakhstan’s Denis Ten, this year’s world silver medalist, was unimpressive all weekend on his way to a disappointing 224.80 score and fourth place and performed a solid, if unambitious, free skate. Former European champion Florent Amodio of France could only manage 213.39 for sixth, behind Richard Dornbush of the U.S.
Earlier in the day, 15-year-old Russian Anna Pogorilaya announced herself as an Olympic contender by winning her debut senior competition, pushing compatriot Adelina Sotnikova into second place and five-time European champion Carolina Kostner of Italy into the bronze medal position.
France's Nathalie Pechalat and Fabien Bourzat overhauled Russian short program leaders Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitry Soloviev to win the ice dance. Third went to Madison Chock and Evan Bates of the United States.
The Cup of China is the third Grand Prix of the six-event season, from which the top skaters qualify for next month's finals in Fukuoka, Japan.