On the second day of the fourth stage of this season’s International Skating Union (ISU) Grand Prix series in Japan – the 2021 NHK Trophy – none of the medal positions changed from the short programs as Japanese figure skaters won gold in the men’s and women’s disciplines, while Russian figure skaters took gold in the pairs’ and ice dance events.
Silver medalist at Skate America at the end of last month – only losing out to Vincent Zhou but placing ahead of Nathan Chen – 2018 Olympic silver medalist Shoma Uno improved his score and finished his home Grand Prix on the very top of the podium. Skating to Bolero, the 23-year-old from Nagoya began his free skate routine with a quad loop, a quad Salchow, and a quad toe loop in a combination with a double toe loop. Following a triple axel and a doubled flip attempt, Uno landed a fourth quad jump – a solo toe loop. He commenced his jumping sequences with a triple axel-Euler-triple flip combination. The two-time World silver medalist received a score of 187.57 points for the presentation and earned a total competition score of 290.15 points.
Winner of this year’s Skate America, Vincent Zhou was unable to replicate a clean free skate performance from that event; however, despite only receiving the sixth-best free skate score, the 21-year-old American maintained the silver medal position. Zhou popped his opening Lutz attempt but then landed quads in the next four jumping sequences – a clean quad flip, an under-rotated quad Salchow, a quad toe loop with a low positive grade of execution because of a q call (quarter-under-rotation), and another under-rotated quad Salchow in a combination with only a single toe loop. In his final two jumping sequences, the three-time runner-up at U.S. Nationals received more quarter and full under-rotation calls by completing the triple axel-Euler-triple Salchow combination and a solo triple axel. He received a score of 161.18 points for his performance and earned a total competition score of 260.69 points.
Third after the short program, just like he was last week in Italy, South Korean representative Junhwan Cha managed maintain third place in Japan – winning his first medal at an international competition since a bronze medal at the ISU Grand Prix Final in December of 2018. The 20-year-old five-time national champion landed his opening quad toe loop but then fell on his following quad Salchow. He later completed a triple flip-double toe loop combination, a triple axel-Euler-triple Salchow combination, a triple axel, a triple Lutz-triple loop combination, and a triple flip. Despite some under-rotation calls, Cha’s free skate score of 163.68 points – the fifth-best in the even – was enough to maintain the bronze medal position with a total competition score of 259.60 points.
- Shoma UNO (JPN) – 290.15
- Vincent ZHOU (USA) – 260.69
- Junhwan CHA (KOR) – 259.60
- Makar IGNATOV (RUS) – 257.20
- Matteo RIZZO (ITA) – 255.84
- Alexander SAMARIN (RUS) – 255.65
- Sota YAMAMOTO (JPN) – 238.90
- Kao MIURA (JPN) – 232.89
- Tomoki HIWATASHI (USA) – 217.08
- Nam NGUYEN (CAN) – 208.39
- Camden PULKINEN (USA) – 193.18
Following a fourth place finish at Skate America – where many people believed she deserved a podium position – 2019 Japanese national champion Kaori Sakamoto defended her NHK Trophy title from last year, although the event was more so considered a domestic competition then. Skating to a combination of No More Fight Left In Me by Imany and Armand Amar as well as Tris by Ellie Goulding and Junkie XL – choreographed by Benoit Richaud – the 21-year-old figure skater started her free skate routine with a double axel and a triple Lutz. Sakamoto then completed a triple flip-double toe loop combination, a triple Salchow, a triple flip-triple toe loop combination, a double axel-triple toe loop-double toe loop combination, and a triple loop. Sakamoto received season’s best score of 146.78 points for her performance and earned a total competition score of 223.34 points.
After only a ninth place finish a Skate Canada two weeks ago, 17-year-old Japanese representative Mana Kawabe did not attempt a triple axel at the start of her free skate presentation, as she did in the short program, but, unfortunately, fell on a double axel. The 2020 Japanese Junior national champion later completed a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination, a triple loop, a triple Lutz-double toe loop combination, a double axel-triple toe loop-double toe loop combination, a triple flip, and a triple Salchow. Kawabe received the fourth-best free skate score of 131.56 points but remained second overall with a total score of 205.44 points.
Third after the short program, South Korean talent Young You celebrated a second bronze medal on this season’s ISU Grand Prix series circuit – as she was third at Skate America. The 17-year-old figure skater began her free skate routine with an unsuccessful triple axel attempt and later landed – a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination, a triple loop, a double axel, a triple Lutz-Euler-triple Salchow combination, a double axel-triple toe loop combination, and a triple flip. Three out of her seven jumping sequences were deemed to be under-rotated. Nevertheless, You received the second-best free skate score of 135.52 points and earned a total competition score of 203.60 points.
As a reminder, yesterday, during the six-minute warm-up of the short program, Russian figure skater Daria Usacheva fell on a flip attempt and had to be carried away from the rink. The 15-year-old 2020 World Junior silver medalist was forced to withdraw due to an injury – according to the official website of the Figure Skating Federation of Russia, she suffered a ligament tear of one of the internal muscles of the right leg in the growth zone of the femur.
- Kaori SAKAMOTO (JPN) – 223.34
- Mana KAWABE (JPN) – 205.44
- Young YOU (KOR) – 203.60
- Alysa LIU (USA) – 202.90
- Eunsoo LIM (KOR) – 186.68
- Rino MATSUIKE (JPN) – 186.17
- Amber GLENN (USA) – 175.83
- Nicole SCHOTT (GER) – 172.37
- Seoyeong WI (KOR) – 170.54
Russian pair Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov continued their winning streak at their first ISU Grand Prix series appearance of the Olympic season – the 2019 World Junior champions and 2021 World champions celebrate their fifth consecutive gold medal at domestic or international competitions (2020-2021 Cup of Russia Final, 2021 World Championships, 2021 World Team Trophy, 2021 Finlandia Trophy, and, now, the 2021 NHK Trophy).
Mishina and Galliamov were superb in both of their performances in Japan. Skating to The Snowstorm and Time, Forward by Georgy Sviridov, the duo began their free skate performance with a successful side-by-side triple Salchow-Euler-triple Salchow combination, received the highest level for their triple twist lift, and Mishin landed a triple flip throw. Later, the couple also landed side-by-side triple toe loops and Mishina completed the triple loop throw. Mishina and Galliamov received a score of 148.88 points for the free skate performance and earned a total competition score of 227.28 points.
Three-time World medalists Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov were in striking distance after the short program but committed too many errors in their free skate presentation. Skating to Lighthouse by Patrick Watson, they began their routine with good side-by-side triple Salchows and an impressive triple twist lift but then struggled on subsequent jumps – the Russians only managed a side-by-side double toe loop-double toe loop-single toe loop combination and Tarasova had to hold on to her triple flip and triple loop throws. The three-time national champions received a score of 137.49 points for the free skate and earned a total competition score of 213.27 points.
Silver medalists at Skate America, 2020 Japanese national champions Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara completed a side-by-side triple toe loop-double toe loop-double toe loop combination and Miura successfully landed a triple Lutz throw. Later, the pair completed but received slight negative grades of execution on their side-by-side double Salchows and on the triple loop throw. Miura and Kihara a score of 135.44 points for their free skate performance and earned a new personal best total score of 209.42 points.
- Anastasia MISHINA / Aleksandr GALLIAMOV (RUS) – 227.28
- Evgenia TARASOVA / Vladimir MOROZOV (RUS) – 213.27
- Riku MIURA / Ryuichi KIHARA (JPN) – 209.42
- Ashley CAIN-GRIBBLE / Timothy LEDUC (USA) – 202.79
- Audrey LU / Misha MITROFANOV (USA) – 190.03
- Evelyn WALSH / Trennt MICHAUD (CAN) – 167.98
- Minerva Fabienne HASE / Nolan SEEGERT (GER) – 161.89
Reigning World champions in ice dance, from Russia, Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov were supreme in both performances at the competition and celebrated the win. Skating their free dance to a mixture of Piano Concerto No. 2 and Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini by Sergei Rachmaninoff, Sinitsina and Katsalapov received a score of 129.11 points for their presentation and increased their lead of less than one point to almost five points – earning an overall competition score of 215.44 points.
Silver medalists at Skate America, Madison Chock and Evan Bates found themselves just a fraction of a point behind the winners after the rhythm dance. Skating to music by Daft Punk for their free dance program, the two-time World medalists received a score of 124.76 points for their presentation and earned a total competition score of 210.78 points.
- Victoria SINITSINA / Nikita KATSALAPOV (RUS) – 215.44
- Madison CHOCK / Evan BATES (USA) – 210.78
- Lilah FEAR / Lewis GIBSON (GBR) – 191.91
- Sara HURTADO / Kirill KHALIAVIN (ESP) – 188.09
- Marjorie LAJOIE / Zachary LAGHA (CAN) – 187.38
- Kana MURAMOTO / Daisuke TAKAHASHI (JPN) – 179.50
- Misato KOMATSUBARA / Tim KOLETO (JPN) – 172.20
- Alexandra NAZAROVA / Maxim NIKITIN (UKR) – 165.38
- Sofia SHEVCHENKO / Igor EREMENKO (RUS) – 160.13