Yuma Kagiyama, Kaori Sakamoto win NHK Trophy titles
OSAKA, Japan (AP) — With two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu sitting it out, 17-year-old Yuma Kagiyama displayed plenty of flair on Saturday to win the men’s title at the NHK Trophy, the final event of the figure skating Grand Prix series.
Skating to music from the film “Avatar,” Kagiyama landed a quad salchow at the start of his routine and added two quad toe loops en route to 188.61 points in the free skate for a total of 275.87.
“I didn’t worry about the points but was more focused on my performance and was happy I could put in a performance with almost no mistakes,” said Kagiyama, who was first after the short program.
Kazuki Tomono was second with 226.62 points followed by Lucas Tsuyoshi Honda with 217.56.
Hanyu, who has asthma, elected not to participate in the NHK Trophy but has said he intends to compete in the Japanese national championships next month.
Kagiyama is the world junior silver medalist and the Japanese junior national champion. He is the son of two-time Olympic figure skater Masakazu Kagiyama.
In the women’s event, Kaori Sakamoto produced a near-flawless free skate to win the women’s NHK title.
Skating to music from the film “The Matrix,” Sakamoto, who was first after the short program, landed a double axel and followed with a triple flip, triple toe loop combination en route to a score of 153.91 for a total of 229.51.
“I was nervous but was able to execute the free skate as I did in practice,” Sakamoto said. “I hope this result will give me confidence for the Japan nationals.”
Sakamoto also landed a triple lutz, a triple salchow and a triple loop as well as two more combination jumps.
Wakaba Higuchi, the 2018 world silver medalist who was second after Friday’s short program, landed a triple axel at the start of her free skate and was second overall with 200.98 points. Rino Matsuike was third with 198.97 points.
Misato Komatsubara and Tim Koleto won the ice dance gold with a total of 179.05 points. Rikako Fukase and Eichu Cho were second with 157.89 while Kana Muramoto and former singles skater Daisuke Takahashi were third with 157.25.
The NHK Trophy normally draws competitors from around the world but was limited to mostly Japanese skaters because of travel restrictions put in place because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite concerns about the coronavirus, there was a near-capacity crowd on hand for Saturday’s program. Japan has managed to keep the virus under control so far but is experiencing a recent surge in cases.
The Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final that was to be held as an Olympic test event on Dec. 10-13 in Beijing has been postponed. The Grand Prix events in Canada and France were canceled due to COVID-19.
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