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November 7, 2009

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Wagner leads Ando at NHK Trophy

ASHLEY Wagner of the United States finished first in the women's short program at the NHK Trophy in Nagano last night, edging Miki Ando of Japan.

Wagner opened with a triple flip, double toeloop in a routine to the soundtrack from "Once Upon a Time in America." Her only mistake came on a double axel that was downgraded and she finished with 56.54 points. Ando was second with 56.22 points, while Yukari Nakano of Japan was third with 54.92.

"First place is a good place to be but it wasn't my best performance," Wagner said. "My double axel was downgraded but hopefully I can do it cleanly tomorrow in the long program."

Wagner, who finished second at the Rostelecom Cup in Moscow, is bidding for a place in the Grand Prix final, which will be held in Tokyo on December 3-6.

Ando, who won the Rostelecom Cup two weeks ago, fell on her second element -- a triple flip -- but recovered to keep herself in position for a second Grand Prix title.

"I wasn't pleased with my program today. It was poor from my viewpoint," Ando said. "It wasn't just that I fell but the overall performance wasn't good. I was able to finish second perhaps because of the support of the fans but the result today just wasn't good enough."

In the men's short program, Brian Joubert of France finished first and Jeremy Abbott of the US was second.

Joubert opened his routine with a quadruple toeloop, triple toeloop combination and received 85.55 points. Abbott was second with 83.00 points, ahead of compatriot Johnny Weir, who scored 78.35.

"I'm very happy because my first Grand Prix was difficult," said Joubert, who finished fourth at the Trophee Bompard in Paris. "I was very disappointed with the result (in Paris) so it was important for me to get a good result today and for the rest of this competition."

Joubert, the 2007 world champion, stumbled on the landing of a triple lutz but skated a clean program otherwise.

Daisuke Takahashi of Japan, skating in his first GP since returning from knee surgery, turned in a solid performance but had a weak landing on a triple lutz and fell during a step sequence.

American pair Meryl Davis and Charlie White were first after the compulsory dance, and Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov of Russia topped the pairs short program, ahead of Chinese duo Pang Qing and Tong Jian. The Russians scored 68.90 points while Pang and Tong finished with 67.30. Americans Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett were third on 55.20.


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