Japan's Kaori Sakamoto produced her season's best score in the free skate as she sealed the women's singles title at the World Figure Skating Championships in Montpellier on Friday.
With Russian pair, and Olympic gold and silver medallists Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova banned from the event, Olympic bronze medallist Sakamoto led the women's competition after the short programme. Her score of 80.32 gave her a 5.32 advantage over Belgium’s Loena Hendrickx ahead of Friday’s free skate. Mariah Bell of the USA was third.
Hendrickx - the penultimate competitor on the ice - set the mark to beat with a combined score of 217.70, but the overwhelming favourite Sakamoto produced her season's best performance in the free - a 155.77 - to finish on 236.09, some 18.30 clear of Hendrickx. The Belgian - carrying an unspecified injury - made history in Montpellier, collecting her country's first world medal in the women's event.
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The USA's Alysa Liu, 16, completed the podium with a combined score of 211.19, following an excellent free skate in which she landed her triple Axel. Liu edged out compatriot and US title open winner Bell for the final podium spot; Bell finished with a combined score of 208.66.

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Britain's Natasha McKay - who was 24th after the short programme - moved up a position to finish 23rd after the free skate, finishing with a score of 159.27.
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