Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker of the United States won the ice dance title at the NHK Trophy on Sunday with an excellent free dance.

The American duo were in second place after Saturday’s rhythm dance, but vaulted to the top of the podium with their routine to “Trampoline Theme.” Their winning total score was 184.63 points.

Russia’s Tiffani Zagorksi and Jonathan Guerreiro, who led after Saturday’s rhythm dance, were second with 183.05, while the American team of Rachel and Michael Parsons took third at 178.64.

“We are pretty excited. We had a great skate today,” stated Hawayek. “We really felt the energy from the crowd. It was an honor to perform here.”

Baker talked about the objectives he and Hawayek had coming into the event.

“Our main goal was to put out two solid programs,” Baker recalled. “We are happy with the gold, of course. This is the start of a four-year plan for us.”

Zagorski and Guerreiro, who were third at Skate America, had been hoping to clinch a spot in next month’s Grand Prix Final with a victory here, but will have to wait now to see how the last two GPs play out.

Hawayek and Baker will compete in the Internationaux de France later this month in Grenoble, where they will look to lock up a spot in the GP Final that compatriots Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue have already secured.

“We have a lot of level we can improve on for the next competition,” commented Hawayek. “We will go home and review our elements with our coaches.”

Japan’s Misato Komatsubara and Timothy Koleto (154.27) finished eighth.

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