Familiar shutout

TERRY JONES

, Last Updated: 8:49 AM ET

GOTEBORG, Sweden -- For the seventh straight year, there's a new women's world figure skating champion. For the 35th straight year she isn't a Canadian.

Mao Asada of Japan won the championship here yesterday, a title which has gone from Michelle Kwan to Irina Slutskaya, back to Kwan to Shizuka Arakawa, back to Slutskaya to Kimmie Meissner and to Miki Ando.

Canada's Joannie Rochette, attempting to become the first Canadian on the women's podium since Liz Manley in 1988 and the first on top of it since Karen Magnussen in 1973, ended up fifth.

The result matched her previous best - fifth at the Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games - and was her best ever at Worlds, where she's been eighth, 11th, seventh and 10th, respectively, in her previous appearances.

"To make it back to the top five was my goal," said the four-time Canadian champion from Ile Dupas, Que.

Rochette, without landing a triple-triple combination in the short program, put two together in a sequence in the free skate final last night and moved up a position from sixth in the short.

TOUCHED DOWN

But she touched down on a triple Lutz and popped a triple loop to take away any chance of moving up further.

"The loop was my biggest mistake," she said of single-rotating the jump. "It was silly. I rushed it. I don't think I've missed that all year."

Meanwhile, Canada's Mira Leung, second at nationals for three straight years, failed to make any headway here this year. The 18-year-old Vancouver skater who was 24th at her first Worlds two years ago in Calgary and who improved her position to 13th last year in Tokyo, ended up 14th after the free skate final here yesterday.

"I'm disappointed in myself but I'm glad I came back," she said of trying to pick up the pieces after finishing 14th in the short program the night before."

She fell on a triple toe attempt.

"I think I got ahead of myself," she said.

"I'll go home and catch up on my school and get ready for next season."

It was an interesting night at the Scandinavium as a capacity crowd of 9,431 watched defending champion Miki Ando of Japan, eighth after the short program, fall on her first jump and withdraw because of injury. The ISU medical bulletin said she suffered from acute trauma on her left leg, which appeared early in the day in practice.

Meissner, the American who won gold two years ago at the Calgary Worlds, ended up seventh.

CHAMP IS ONLY 16

New champion Asada is only 16-years-old. At the 2005 Japanese Nationals, she became the first female skater to land two triple Axels in the same free skate program. She finished second in that event but was too young to qualify for the Torino Olympics. She now trains in the U.S.

Carolina Kostner of Italy was a surprise silver medal winner, with Yu-Na Kim of Korea taking the bronze.

The men's short program and free skate final are scheduled for today.


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