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2011 NHK Trophy
Team USA enjoyed a strong show in Sapporo, Japan, which includes a gold medal win from Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani and a bronze medal finish for Ross Miner.
Ross Miner battled back from sixth place after the short program to earn the bronze medal, his first career Grand Prix Series medal. He was joined on the podium by a two representatives of the host country, gold medalist Daisuke Takahashi and silver medalist Takahiko Kozuka. After falling on his “Blues for Klook” program-opening attempt at a quad flip, Takahashi executed five triple jumps and two level four spins to net a season-high 169.32 points for the segment. He assured his spot in the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final with his second medal of the season and netted 259.75 points overall. Kozuka, skating to “Nausicaa Princess of the Wind,” produced two triple Axels and a total of six triple jumps. His attempt at a quad toe was two-footed on the landing. He totaled 235.02 points for the weekend (155.25 for free skate). Miner skated to music from The Untouchablessoundtrack. The program was highlighted by two triple Axels earned 141.24 points. Though he was fourth in the free skate segment, his overall score of 212.36 moved him into third place. American Armin Mahbanoozadeh, the finished eighth. His teammate Brandon Mroz sat in third after the short program, thanks in part to a landed Quad Lutz. He suffered some errors in the free skate and went on to finish ninth.
A week after earning the silver medal at 2011 Cup of China, Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani won their first ever ISU Grand Prix Series gold medal and did so by battling back from a third-place showing in the short dance to win the free dance and the competition. The outcome sees the Shibutanis and silver medalists Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje of Canada book their tickets to the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in December. Shibutani and Shibutani edged the Canadians by just 0.09 points for the gold medal. Russian’s Elene Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov, who were in first after the short dance, took home bronze. Performing their free dance to “In the Mood” and “Moonlight Serenade,” Shibutani and Shibutani earned level fours for five out of seven elements. The reigning World bronze medalists posted a new season’s best of 92.83 points and totaled 151.85 overall. Weaver and Poje’s skate was highlighted by difficult level four lifts and twizzles. They earned the silver with 151.76 total points. Ilinykh and Katsalapov danced to an arrangement of “Ave Maria” and had level four lifts and twizzles. Their free dance score of 87.65 dropped the team to third place at 149.48 points. Americans Lynn Kriengkrairut and Logan Giulietti-Schmitt finished the weekend in sixth place.
Japan’s Akiko Suzuki captured the gold and a spot in the Grand Prix Final as teammate Mao Asada claimed the silver medal. The bronze went to Russia’s Alena Leonova, while Americans Ashley Wagner and Agnes Zawadzki finished fourth and eighth, respectively. Skating to “Die Fledermaus,” Suzuki, who won both segments of competition, performed a triple Lutz, double Axel-triple toe and triple loop. With 119.43 points she was ranked second in the free but was able to hold on to first place at 185.98 points. Asada’s “Liebestraum” free skate included five triple jumps and three level four spins. The 2010 Olympic silver medalist was the free skate winner with 125.77 points (184.19 points overall). Leonova landed a triple toe-triple toe combination and two triple flips in her program. She scored 108.92 points for the free and accumulated 170.68 total.
Russia’s Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov rebounded from a fifth-place showing in the short to win the pairs title followed by Narumi Takahashi and Mervin Tran of Japan and German’s Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy. Overcoming a rough short program, Kavaguti and Smirnov produced a triple toe, triple twist, triple throw loop and Salchow in their “Clair de Lune” free skate. They earned scored 122.49 points, setting a season’s best, and totaled 177.51 points. Takahashi and Tran’s program to “Concerto de Quebec” included a triple twist, level four spins and lifts as well as a throw triple Salchow. They maintained silver medal standing and earned 172.09 total points. Short program sinners Savchenko and Szolkowy opened their program to the Pina soundtrack with a throw triple flip, but they made errors on the side by side jumps and did not perform a planned lift. The reigning World Champions received 112.45 points for the free and 171.68 overall. Americans Caydee Denney and John Coughlin placed fifth (163.75 points) in their second outing of the season while teammates Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir finished seventh.