Lambiel returns to skate in Japan Open

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The retired Swiss champion brings Europe to victory Saturday in the annual free-skating contest.

Saitama -- Two-time world champion Stephane Lambiel brought Europe to victory in the Japan Open team event here Saturday.

The 24-year-old Swiss earned 150.52 points to lead the male competitors.

The annual free-skating contest -- featuring two men and two women each from Europe, North America and hosts Japan -- allowed skaters to test their new programmes at the start of the Olympic season.

"I'm very satisfied with my performance. It was not perfect and I still have to work hard for the Olympics," Lambiel said after his second competition of the season.

The 2005 and 2006 world champion and Turin Olympic silver medalist retired in 2008 because of a muscle injury. But he has returned to compete at the Vancouver Olympics in February.

Canada's world silver medallist Joannie Rochette topped the women's table with her personal best free-skate of 126.39 points, bringing North America to second place with 463.90.

"Me and my coach wanted to take it as a good warm-up for the season," said the 23-year-old Rochette, whose previous personal best was 124.15. She skated to Camille Saint-Saens' Samson and Delilah.

"I think this programme is definitely a step-up from last year. It's more powerful but it's a bit of a challenge for me."

Japan's 2008 women's world champion Mao Asada made several mistakes to finish third at 102.94.

Asada, who recently turned 19, fell after a 3.5-revolution triple axel jump.

She is one of the few female skaters who can regularly jump triple axels.

"I could not do a lot of things I have practiced. I need to work hard ahead of the Grand Prix series," said Asada.

She is due to compete against world champion Kim Yu-Na of South Korea in the season's first Grand Prix event in Paris later in October.

AFP / Expatica

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