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July 28, 2017

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Wagner posts high score in ladies' short program

KENT, Washington -- Ashley Wagner delivered a clean performance in the short program to grab the lead at Skate America on Saturday.

The U.S. champion, who scored 60.61 points, is trying to build on her breakthrough season last year. She placed fourth last year at the world championships, the best for a U.S. woman since 2007.

Adelina Sotnikova was second at 58.93. The 16-year-old has won the last two Russian titles.

American Christina Gao was third at 56.63, followed by France's Mae Berenice Meite at 54.41.

Russian Alena Leonova, expected to compete for the title, struggled during her routine and was ninth at 46.72.

Wagner is hoping to build on last year's breakthrough season. In addition to her U.S. title, she placed fourth at the world championships, the best finish for a U.S. woman since 2007. She also beat two-time world champion Mao Asada to win the Four Continents title.

"I was a little rusty out there, but it's been seven months since my last real competition," Wagner said.

Her score could have been even better if not for a botched triple loop.

Sotnikova wasn't quite as pleased. The 2011 world junior champion popped her final jump. She finished with a score of 58.93.

"I'm not so happy with what I did today because I did not do what I wanted to do," Sotnikova said through a translator. "I popped the last jump and it's a jump that I usually never miss."

Later, Takahiko Kozuka overtook 17-year-old Yuzuru Hanyu to win the men's title as Japan swept the top three spots. Kozuka won with 251.44 points, Hanyu had 243.74 and Tatsuki Machida 225.95.

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