Japan’s Kagiyama Leads NHK Trophy Figure Skating Event after Short Programs

AP Photo/Tomohiro Ohsumi
Yuma Kagiyama of Latvia waves after performing in the men’s short program during the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating – NHK Trophy in Kadoma, near Osaka, Japan, Friday, Nov. 24, 2023.

OSAKA, Japan (AP) — Yuma Kagiyama of Japan upstaged two-time world champion and compatriot Shoma Uno on Friday to finish first in the men’s short program at the NHK Trophy.

Skating to “Believer,” Kagiyama opened with a quad salchow and followed with a quad toe-loop, triple toe-loop combination and a triple axel for a season’s best score of 105.51 points.

“I was able to complete a powerful performance just as I had practiced,” said Kagiyama, the 2022 Olympic silver medalist. “This will give me a lot of confidence for the future.”

Kagiyama missed most of last season with a left foot injury but came back this year and finished third at the Grand Prix de France this month.

Uno was almost as good with a quad flip and a quad toe-loop but under-rotated the triple toe-loop of the combination jump and finished with 100.20 points. Switzerland’s Lukas Britschgi was a distant third with 86.42 points.

“I under-rotated one of my jumps but overall, I was pleased with my performance,” said Uno, who is bidding for a third consecutive NHK Trophy title.

Camden Pulkinen of the United States was in fourth place with 86.40 points.

The NHK is the sixth and final event of the International Skating Union’s Grand Prix series and both Kagiyama and Uno are bidding to qualify for the Dec. 7-10 Grand Prix Final in Beijing.

Adam Siao Him Fa of France, Ilia Malinin of the U.S. and Kao Miura of Japan have already qualified for Beijing.

In the women’s short program, Lindsay Thorngren of the U.S. was the surprise leader.

Thorngren’s performance to “Windmills of Your Mind” included a triple lutz, triple toe-loop combination, a double axel and a triple flip for 68.93 points.

“Honestly, it is unexpected to be in first place but I am ready to fight for a medal tomorrow,” Thorngren said. “I will do my best and hope to skate clean.”

Nina Pinzarrone of Belgium under-rotated a triple lutz and was second with 63.44 points followed by world silver medalist Lee Hae-in of South Korea with 62.93.

Two-time world champion Kaori Sakamoto of Japan, Isabeau Levito of the U.S. and Loena Hendrickx of Belgium have already qualified for the GP Final.

European champions Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri of Italy took the lead in rhythm dance with 85.27 points, edging Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson of Britain by less than a point.

Allison Reed and Saulius Ambruvelicius of Lithuania were third with 78.71.

Minerva Fabienne Hase and Nikita Volodin of Germany, who won the Grand Prix Espoo last week, were in first place after the pairs short program with 67.23 points.

“We did everything we could,” Hase said. “It was our first clean skate in competition this season, so we’re even happier.”

Lucrezia Beccari and Matteo Guarise of Italy finished second with 66.77 while Anastasia Golubeva and Hector Giotopolous Moore of Australia were third with 64.61.

The competition concludes on Saturday with the men’s, women’s and pairs free skate and the free dance.