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Japan's Kanako Murakami overcomes ankle injury to win Four Continents gold

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TAIPEI, Taiwan - Japan's Kanako Murakami took gold in the women's competition at the Four Continents after a brilliant performance in the free skate on Saturday despite a lingering ankle injury.

Murakami finished 10 points above Satoko Miyahara, also from Japan, whose free skate performance vaulted her from fourth to second overall.

Despite a sore ankle hindering her practice, the 19-year-old Murakami hit a triple toe-triple toe combination, triple lutz and triple flip-double toe for her first gold at an international championship event.

Ahead of her first Winter Olympics next month, Murakami earned a segment score of 132.18 and overall total of 196.91.

"I was anxious the whole time because of my leg," Murakami said. "But I was able to relax when my performance started."

Making her Four Continents debut, the 15-year-old Miyahara produced a stellar performance which included a triple lutz-triple toe and double axel-double toe combinations for 126.26 in the free skate and a total of 186.53.

"I know this will be a great start for the next season," Miyahara said.

Li Zijun of China took bronze, ahead of Haruka Imai of Japan and Courtney Hicks of the United States in fourth and fifth respectively.

The 17-year-old Li enjoyed a season best of 118.72 for a total 181.56 with a triple flip-double toe and double axel-triple toe combinations.

Imai dropped from third in the short program to sixth in the free skate with 112.68. Hicks produced a solid effort that earned her 113.63 and fourth in the free skate.

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