Chen, Kihira Win Figure Skating in France to Reach GP Final

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.

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