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Sakamoto dominates women’s short program at NHK Trophy

November 27, 2020 GMT

OSAKA, Japan (AP) — Kaori Sakamoto dominated the women’s short program Friday at the NHK Trophy, the final event of a figure skating Grand Prix series that has been shortened because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2018 Four Continents champion opened her routine with a double axel and added a triple lutz and a triple flip-triple toe-loop combination for 75.60 points.

Japanese skater Wakaba Higuchi, the 2018 world silver medalist, fell on her opening triple axel but landed all her remaining jumps to finish second with 69.71 points. Mako Yamashita, also of Japan, was third with 67.56.

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Vancouver Olympic bronze medalist and 2010 world champion Daisuke Takahashi was set to make his debut as an ice dancer later Friday.

The NHK Trophy normally draws skaters from around the world but was limited to mostly Japanese skaters this year because of travel restrictions.

Despite concerns about the coronavirus, there was a near-capacity crowd for Friday’s opening day program. Japan has managed to keep the virus under control so far but is experiencing a surge in cases recently. Tokyo reported 570 cases on Friday.

Two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu, who has asthma, is not taking part in the men’s program.

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.

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