OSAKA – Two-time world champion Evgenia Medvedeva retained her lead after the short program despite a fall in the free skate to win the NHK Trophy on Saturday night. The elegant Russian qualified for next month’s Grand Prix Final with the victory.
Medvedeva skated to “Anna Karenina” and hit the ice on the back end of her opening triple flip/triple toe loop combination jump, then two-footed the landing on her next jump (a triple jump), before righting herself and finishing with a total score of 224.39 points.
The Russian’s victory was still decisive over Carolina Kostner, who was second with 212.24. Medvedeva’s compatriot Polina Tsurskaya took third on 210.19.
Russia’s Sergei Voronov won the men’s event with 271.12, maintaining his lead after the short program.
American Adam Rippon moved up from fourth after the short program to take second with 261.99, while Israel’s Alexei Bychenko was third at 252.07.
“I’m so excited to show my performance for people who love figure skating,” stated Medvedeva, showing her appreciation for the Japanese audience. “I’m not satisfied with my free skate today. I was glad with the combination in the second half. The flip was the best part in the second half.”
Medvedeva, who has won the last two GP Finals, put her feelings about competing into perspective.
“My goal is to do my best. When I finish I want to feel satisfied,” commented the Moscow native, who won the Cup of Russia last month. “If it is a clean skate, the audience doesn’t think about the elements but focuses on the performance.”
Kostner competed to “L’apres-midi d’un faune” and held onto second place despite a fall on a planned three-combination jump and an invalid element by repeating a double toe loop on her second combo jump.
“The two mistakes were on easier elements. It happens,” Kostner said. “It helps you to calibrate the work and improve the construction.”
Mirai Nagasu (194.46) was fourth, while three-time national champion Satoko Miyahara (191.80) came in fifth.
Miyahara under-rotated the back end of her planned triple lutz/triple toe loop combo and a double axel, then did a double salchow instead of a triple.
The result for Miyahara was significant, because it means she will not qualify for the GP Final, and could have an impact on her attempt to make the team for the Pyeongchang Olympics. She just doesn’t look like the skater she was before the hip injury that kept her out of competition for the past 11 months.
“I was happy to execute the triple/triple. It has been a long time since I did it,” Miyahara stated. “I was able to skate as I practiced.”
Miyahara says stamina is an issue for her at this point.
“The problem is that I don’t have enough energy now,” she noted. “I need more power to improve my condition.”
Rika Hongo (187.83), who was fourth after the short program, ended up seventh following an error-filled free skate.
Yuna Shiraiwa (171.94) came in eighth in her first senior GP after starting out well to “Pictures at an Exhibition.” She began with a nice triple lutz/triple toe loop combo and then hit a double axel, but two-footed the landing on the back end of her second triple lutz/triple toe combo.
She was fairly efficient from then until the end of the program when she botched her three jump combo by doing just a double axel, then doubled her final jump (a planned triple loop).
Voronov opened with a fine quad toe loop/triple toe loop combo and hit six triples in all in a fine performance to “Sarabande Suite,” to earn his first victory on the GP circuit.
The 30-year-old did under-rotate his quad toe loop, but is enjoying a late career renaissance, and will attempt to make the GP Final when he competes at Skate America in Lake Placid, New York, in two weeks.
“I’m satisfied with the win but tired,” Voronov said. “I put everything out there and am happy I won. There were hardly any mistakes today.”
Adam Rippon skated to “Arrival of the Birds” and under-rotated his opening quad lutz, but went on to land eight triples and remained in contention for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team with the result.
Kazuki Tomono (231.93) was seventh, while Hiroaki Sato (199.20) ended up 11th.
Japan ended up without a medal in either the men’s or women’s singles at the NHK Trophy for the first time since 2000.
China’s Sui Wenjing and Han Cong won the pairs with a score of 234.53, retaining the lead they held after the short program.
Russia’s Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov were second with 222.74, while their compatriots Kristina Astakhova and Alexei Rogonov (203.54) were third.
World champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada are on top in the ice dance after the short dance with 80.92.
The American team of Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue are second with 76.31, while Italy’s Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte are in third at 75.87.
The NHK Trophy will conclude on Sunday with the free dance and Exhibition Gala.
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