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Japan's Mihara wins 2nd Four Continents figure skating title

Mai Mihara won her second career Four Continents figure skating title on Saturday in a strong recovery from missing out on the Japanese team for the Winter Olympics.

Mihara was near-flawless in Saturday's free skate with a program packed with triple jumps until she ran out of momentum on her final combination spin. It was still more than enough to keep her lead from the short program.

Mihara scored a total 218.03 points to win a second Four Continents title after claiming the gold in 2017. Japanese skaters have won the women's gold at the last six editions of the event, which brings together leading skaters from outside Europe. Mihara placed fourth at Japanese nationals, when the top three were selected for the Olympic team.

A winner Mai Mihara of Japan pose with her gold medal after the women free skating program during the ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Tallinn, Estonia, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022. (AP PhotoSergei Stepanov)

South Korean skaters claimed the silver and bronze, with Lee Hae-in scoring 213.52 and Kim Ye-lim on 209.91.

The risk of catching the coronavirus ahead of the Winter Olympics has meant many of the top U.S., Canadian and Japanese skaters have opted to skip Four Continents, which was relocated to be held in Europe for the first time amid the pandemic.

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A winner Mai Mihara of Japan pose with her gold medal after the women free skating program during the ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Tallinn, Estonia, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022. (AP PhotoSergei Stepanov)

Mai Mihara of Japan, centre, first placed, Haein Lee of South Korea, second placed, left, Yelim Kim of South Korea, who finished third, pose with state flags after the women free skating program during the ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Tallinn, Estonia, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022. (AP PhotoSergei Stepanov)

Haein Lee of South Korea performs in the women free skating program during the ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Tallinn, Estonia, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022. (AP PhotoSergei Stepanov)

Mai Mihara of Japan, centre, who finished in first place, Haein Lee of South Korea, second placed, left, Yelim Kim of South Korea, who finished third, pose with their medals after the women free skating program during the ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Tallinn, Estonia, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022. (AP PhotoSergei Stepanov)