NAGANO – Americans Maia and Alex Shibutani won the ice dance at the NHK Trophy on Sunday with a solid performance in the free dance at Big Hat.
The duo led after Saturday’s short dance and retained their position with an energetic routine to Coldplay’s “Fix You.” Their total score in the victory was 174.43 points.
The triumph marked the second time the Japanese-Americans have won the NHK Trophy. They also topped the podium in 2011 in Sapporo. It also qualified them for the Grand Prix Final next month in Barcelona, Spain.
“The last time we won a Grand Prix was in 2011, also at the NHK Trophy,” said Maia Shibutani. “So we are excited and happy to be going to Barcelona.”
Alex Shibutani said he and his sister hope to continue their success this season in Spain.
“We want to carry all the positive momentum that we have built this season,” he said. “We are not focused on results so much as becoming the best team that we can.”
Russia’s Ekaterina Bobroa and Dmitri Soloviev moved up from third after the short dance to finish in second place with 169.33. The difference between coming in second and third was huge for Bobroa and Soloviev, as it earned them a trip to the GP Final.
Bobroa and Soloviev qualified in the sixth and last spot on a tiebreaker, edging out compatriots Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov, who did not compete here.
Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue of the United States slipped from second after the short dance and wound up in third on 167.49.
The results mean that half of the six teams going to the GP Final next month will be American. The Shibutanis and the Hubbell/Donohue tandem will be joined by compatriots Madison Chock and Evan Bates, the silver medalists at last season’s world championships.
Canada’s Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, the bronze medalists at last season’s worlds, and Italy’s Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte, are also set for the trip to Spain.
Japan’s Kana Muramoto and Chris Reed (134.97) came in seventh, while Japan’s Emi Hirai and Marien de la Asuncion (115.59) were eighth.
Next year’s NHK Trophy will be held in Sapporo.
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