Kagiyama Edges Uno in Men’s Event; U.S. Teenager Ziegler Wins NHK Trophy with Near-Flawless Free Skate

Yuma Kagiyama of Japan performs in the men’s free skating during the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating – NHK Trophy in Kadoma, near Osaka, Japan, Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023.

OSAKA, Japan (AP) — Ava Marie Ziegler performed a near-flawless free skate Saturday to win the NHK Trophy and lead a U.S. 1-2 finish on the podium.

Fifth after the short program, Ziegler landed all of her jumps cleanly to score a personal-best 138.46 points in the free skate for her first title in the Grand Prix series with a total of 200.50, also a personal best.

Lindsay Thorngren, who led after the short program, fell on a double salchow but was solid with all her other jumps and placed second with 198.73 points.

Nina Pinzarrone of Belgium was third with 194.66, a result that allowed her to secure a place in the Dec. 7-10 Grand Prix Final at Beijing. South Korea’s Lee Hae-in was fourth with 188.95 points.

The 17-year-old Ziegler, skating to “Liberation” and “Bound to You” by Christina Aguilera, landed a triple flip-double axel-double axel sequence as well as six more triple jumps.

“I really used my fifth-place result yesterday to motivate me because I know that I could do better and I really used it to push me to be the best that I could be today,” the New Jersey native said.

Thorngren’s program to music from “Twilight” featured a triple lutz-triple toe combination and three more clean triples.

It was the first Grand Prix medal for the 17-year-old Thorngren, also of New Jersey.

“I know I can do better, but I’m really happy with how I’ve performed here and the experience I gained,” said Thorngren, who revealed that she sprained her ankle before the practice of the short program.

Two-time world champion Kaori Sakamoto of Japan, Isabeau Levito of the United States and Loena Hendrickx of Belgium have already qualified for the GP Final as have Japanese skaters Hana Yoshida and Rion Sumiyoshi.

The NHK Trophy is the sixth and last event of the International Skating Union’s Grand Prix series, which leads in the Grand Prix Final.

In the men’s event, Yuma Kagiyama of Japan held on to his lead from the short program to edge compatriot and two-time world champion Shoma Uno.

Kagiyama’s only mistake was when he fell on a triple axel midway through his routine, but he executed his other jumps cleanly and finished with 288.39 points.

“I fell on the triple axel which was disappointing but was able to land my other jumps cleanly,” Kagiyama said. “I will do my best to concentrate and stay focused for the next competition.”

Uno under-rotated all four quad jumps but still won the free skate and finished second overall with 286.55 points.

Lukas Britschgi of Switzerland was third with 254.60 points.

Kagiyama and Uno both qualified for GP Final where they will join Adam Siao Him Fa of France, Ilia Malinin of the United States, Kao Miura of Japan and Kevin Aymoz of France.

In ice dance, European silver medalists Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson of Britain won the gold medal with a personal-best score of 130.26 in the free dance for a total of 215.19.

European champions Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri of Italy were second with 214.56 points followed by Allison Reed and Saulius Ambrulevicius of Lithuania, who were third with 196.86.

With their win in Japan, Fear and Gibson qualified for the GP Final along with Guignard and Fabbri.

Minerva Fabienne Hase and Nikita Volodin of Germany held on to their their lead from the short program to win the gold medal in pair with 202.51 points after the free skate.

Lucrezia Beccari and Matteo Guarise of Italy were second with second with 190.31 followed by compatriots Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini with 189.47.

With their win, Hase and Volodin qualify for the GP Final.