Saturday, Nov. 24 – Miyagi, Japan
Team USA has four medals, including one gold and three bronze, to its credit with only the pairs free skate to go from 2012 NHK Trophy in Miyagi, Japan.
Meryl Davis and Charlie White earned their 11th straight Grand Prix Series gold medal, dating back to 2009, with a top performance in Japan. Their nine-point lead heading into the free dance grew to nearly 22 points total after earning 108.62 points for their Notre-Dame de Paris free dance. The performance included four level 4 lifts and level 4 twizzles that earned 7.07 points. They earned 178.48 points for the week. With the win, Davis and White became the one-seeded team headed into the 2012 Grand Prix Final, an event at which they are three-time reigning champions. Teammates and training mates Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani earned their first medal of the season, the bronze, with a total score of 154.56 points. Their Memoirs of a Geisha free dance netted 93.72 points, over 10 points more than their score at Rostelecom Cup two weeks ago when Alex was battling leg cramps. Their program was highlighted by level 4 twizzles and three level 4 lifts. The silver medal and a spot in the Final went to Russia’s Elena Ilinykj and Nikita Katasalapov with 156.62 points.
Mirai Nagasu earned the bronze medal behind teammates Mao Asada and Akiko Suzuki of Japan. Nagasu, who was competing at this event for the first time since 2008, totaled 176.68 points. She began the event by earning 61.18 points for her “Downhill Special” short program after executing elements including a triple toe-triple toe combination and two level 4 spins. The “Symphony No. 3 in C minor, Op. 78″ free skate, for which she earned 115.50 points, began with a solid triple Lutz followed by a pair of double Axels, one done in combination with a triple toe, and two level 4 spins. Asada barely edged Suzuki to win her second gold of the season. She totaled 185.27 points while Suzuki totaled 185.22 points after winning the free skate. Suzuki, the reigning World bronze medalist, set a personal best score of 126.62 points for her Once Upon a Time in Mexico free skate. Agnes Zawadzki, who won the bronze at Rostelecom Cup for her first Grand Prix medal, moved up from seventh place after the short program to finish the event in fifth position. She earned 160.37 points overall. With the conclusion of the qualifying events for the Grand Prix Series, reigning U.S. champion Ashley Wagner secured the No. 1 seed heading into the Final.
Ross Miner moved up from fourth place after the short program to edge Spain’s Javier Fernandez for the bronze medal with a total of 235.37 points. He performed the best international free skate of his career, crushing his personal best score set at 2012 Four Continents by 12 points. The “Captain Blood” free skate earned 161.96 points. The program began with a perfect quad Salchow that, with a GOE of 1.29 points, totaled 11.79 points. The performance continued in impressive fashion with 12 of 13 elements receiving positive GOEs. In the skate’s second half, Miner executed a triple Lutz-loop-triple Salchow jump sequence that earned 13.07 points. Like Nagasu, Miner was joined on the podium by a pair of Japanese skaters. Both Yuzuru Hanyu, who earned his second career Grand Prix gold with 261.03 points, and Daisuke Takahashi, who totaled 251.51, will skate at the 2012 Grand Prix Final. Also representing Team USA, Richard Dornbush placed fifth and Adam Rippon finished eighth. The field was depleted by one skater after Japan’s Daisuke Murakami dislocated his right shoulder in the short program and withdrew.
The pairs competition, featuring three U.S. teams, concluded Sunday from Miyagi with Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir becoming first-time Grand Prix Series medalists. The veteran team earned the bronze medal with a total score of 174.51 points. Their tango inspired free skate received a career mark of 112.66 points and featured a trio of level 4 lifts, side-by-side triple toes and a throw double Axel. Entering NHK Trophy, Castelli and Shnapir had competed in five Grand Prix events and recorded their best finish, fourth, at 2010 Skate Canada. Their short program also earned a career-best mark of 61.85 points. The short earned positive GOEs on each of its seven elements, including the triple twist, side-by-side triple Salchows and throw triple Salchow. Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim, in their career debut on the Grand Prix Series, moved up from fifth after the short program to finish fourth overall with a points total of 163.10 points. Their free skate, set to music from The Last of the Mohicans and 500 Nations, was clean and included five elements that earned more than six points each. They closed the show with a group five lift scored as a level four that netted 7.85 points. Lindsay Davis and Mark Ladwig finished sixth with an career-best of 143.70 points. Russia’s Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov earned the NHK Trophy title with 192.02 points, while silver went to Canada’s Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch with 180.63. Both the gold and silver medalists earned spots in the Grand Prix Final.
Complete coverage of NHK Trophy is available on icenetwork.com.