November 29, 2014

OSAKA, Japan (AP) Japanese skater Yuzuru Hanyu finished fourth at the NHK Trophy on Saturday, a result that allowed the Olympic champion to qualify for next month's Grand Prix Final by a slim margin.

Hanyu, who was fifth after the short program, doubled his opening quad salchow and fell on the quad toeloop but finished with 229.80 points. Daisuke Murakami of Japan won with 246.07 points followed by Sergei Voronov of Russia with 236.65. Takahito Mura of Japan, who was first after the short program, placed third with 234.44 points.

Tatsuki Machida of Japan, Maxim Kovtun of Russia and Javier Fernandez of Spain had already qualified for the GP Finals in Barcelona and will be joined by Hanyu, Voronov and Mura.

Hanyu finished just fifteen-hundredths of a point ahead of Jeremy Abbott of the United States, who was fifth with 229.65. His nine points for finishing fourth were enough to put him in the GP Final combined with the 13 points he earned at the Cup of China three weeks ago where he was injured in a scary collision with Yan Han in warm-ups, but competed to place second.

Hanyu, who was diagnosed with bruising to his head and chin after collision in Shanghai, wasn't sure if he could take part in the NHK until Wednesday but decided to go ahead as he felt better in practice and needed the points to reach the final.

''I feel I made the right decision to compete,'' Hanyu said. ''I wasn't in the best shape physically or mentally, but am proud that I was able to take part in the two events after all that happened.''

Murakami hit all his jumps, including a quad salchow, to record a personal best score and win his first GP title.

''Being on the top of the podium is something I never expected,'' said Murakami, who was third after the short program.

Gracie Gold of the United States won the women's free skate to finish first overall and wrap up a place at the GP Final.

Gold, first after the short program, finished the free skate with 191.16 points, ahead of Alena Leonova of Russia, who received 186.40 points. Satoko Miyahara of Japan was third with 179.02.

The U.S. champion only had four triple jumps in her routine to Phantom of the Opera but scored high marks for her spins and step sequences en route to winning her first senior Grand Prix title.

''I'm very happy to win my first GP and senior international,'' Gold said. ''But I know I can do better and improve on this performance.''

She will join compatriot Ashley Wagner and Russians Elena Radionova, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, Anna Pogorilaya and Julia Lipnitskaia at the GP Final in Barcelona next month.

''I'm excited to go to the GP Final in Barcelona,'' Gold said. ''Although it's a bit of a mixed blessing because it will be an extremely difficult competition with the four Russians and Ashley and I.''

In pairs, Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada finished first with 127.08 points ahead of world junior champions Xiaoyu Yu and Yang Jin of China on 121.85 - a result that allowed them to qualify for the GP Final. Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov of Russia were third with 199 points.

It was the second win of the season for Duhamel and Radford, who also won Skate Canada.

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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
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Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)