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Japan's Oda wins men's figure skating title



Published: Sat, October 28, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) -- Maybe they should call it Skate Japan.

Nobunari Oda won the men's title at Skate America on Friday night, a couple of hours after countrywoman Mao Asada performed exquisitely in the short program.

The 19-year-old Oda, fourth at this year's world championships, finished second to American Evan Lysacek in the free skate.

But he had a big enough lead after winning the short program to easily skate off with the gold.

Oda, appropriately dressed in a gold shirt, albeit a somewhat tattered one, hit seven triple jumps, including one at 4:11 of his 41/2-minute routine.

"I won Four Continents last year, but I did not feel good about it because I crashed," Oda said through an interpreter.

"I did not do so well. I was a little bit concerned about competing in the U.S., but things went well."

While he appeared exhausted when the music stopped, he finished with 231.39 points and his smile never faded.

Not even after Lysacek, using the same "Carmen" program that helped him move up to fourth at the Turin Olympics and third at March's worlds, surged past him in the free skate.

The two-time world bronze medalist is so in tune with Bizet's music he seems to own it.

"It's easy music for a skater to get into and for anyone who hears it to get into," Lysacek said.

Had the Californian done better than third in the short program, he might have challenged Oda.

"He's a great long-program skater," coach Frank Carroll said of Lysacek.

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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