Ashley Wagner outperformed reigning world champion Elizaveta Tuktamysheva to win her first grand prix of the season, Skate Canada, in Lethridge, Alberta. The 2015 U.S. champion scored a total of 202.52 to the Russian’s 188.99. Japan’s Yuka Nagai took bronze with 172.92.
Both her short program (70.73) and free skate (131.79) were personal best scores for Wagner.
Yet Wagner says she is just getting started.
“It was practice for me and an opportunity to train the program under pressure for nationals and worlds, which are my main focuses this year,” Wagner said according to the Associated Press. “To go out and deliver that performance and receive that score, with the mistakes that I had, I think that’s a really good sign for things to come this season, and I think that for me it’s just really going to be about keeping my head on straight, doing that over and over and over again.”
The win put Wagner halfway toward her goal of qualifying for her fourth straight Grand Prix Final. Her other grand prix event is NHK Trophy in Nagano, Japan, in late November. The top six skaters in the six-event series will qualify for the final.
Wagner would become the first U.S. woman to qualify for four consecutive Grand Prix Finals.
In her nine seasons on the senior circuit, Wagner has now won 15 grand prix medals – four golds, four silvers and seven bronzes – including medals at each of her finals appearances, though none of those are gold.
2014 U.S. Olympian Polina Edmunds placed sixth in Lethridge.
In ice dance, the sister-brother duo of Maia and Alex Shibutani earned silver to reigning Grand Prix Final champions Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje of Canada. Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev of Russia were third. The medal was the 10th for the Shib Sibs in their six seasons as seniors.
Marissa Castelli and Mervin Tran impressed in their grand prix debut as a pairs team, finishing fourth, 1.45 points off the podium. Castelli, a 2014 Olympian with Simon Shnapir, teamed up with Tran, formerly of Japan and Canada, after the Sochi Olympics.
The pairs title went to world champion Canadians Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, while Russians Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, and Canadians Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro were second and third.
Adam Rippon was in podium position after the men’s short program Friday, but ended up fourth after placing fifth in the short program. The medals went to Patrick Chan of Canada, and Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu and Daisuke Murakami. Timothy Dolensky finished seventh in his grand prix debut.
The series continues with the 2015 Cup of China on Nov. 6-8 in Shanghai.