Hanyu takes NHK Trophy, books spot in GP final
SENDAI, Japan (AP) -- Japanese teenager Yuzuru Hanyu won the free skate at the NHK Trophy on Saturday - one day after breaking his own world record in the short program - to secure a place in next month's Grand Prix final.
The 17-year-old Hanyu, who scored a record 95.32 in Friday's short program, opened his free skate with a quadruple toe loop and hit six triple jumps on the way to victory with a score of 261.03 points.
He was unable to land the second quad - a salchow - and fell on his final jump - a triple lutz - but did enough to beat second-place finisher and compatriot Daisuke Takahashi by nearly 10 points. American Ross Miner finished third with 235.37 points.
"I'm very happy to make the Grand Prix final," Hanyu said. "Despite my mistakes in the free skate, I was able to score more than 160 points, so my training has paid off."
Mao Asada of Japan narrowly edged out compatriot Akiko Suzuki for the women's title. Asada tallied 185.27 points to Suzuki's 185.22. Mirai Nagasu of the United States finished third with 176.68.
Takahashi put on a lively performance to "I Pagliacci" and totaled 251.51 points, helping him qualify for his seventh GP final. Only Russia's Evgeni Plushenko, the 2006 Olympic gold medalist, has made more GP finals with eight.
Takahashi, the 2010 world champion, began with a quad toe loop, but under-rotated when he attempted one for the second time. The mistake took nothing away from the sublime show he put on, however, as he landed seven triple jumps and had the audience completely enthralled with his superior presentation skills.
"I feel good about making the final for a seventh time," Takahash said. "I will give everything I have and go all out there."
Hanyu and Takahashi will be joined by compatriots Takahiko Kozuka and Tatsuki Machida at the GP Final in Sochi, Russia, giving Japan four of the six competitors in the men's event.
Skating to "Swan Lake," Asada doubled her opening triple loop, then later doubled a triple lutz and compounded her problems by singling a triple salchow, but her big lead over Suzuki from the short program was enough to put her atop the podium.
"I feel a lot of disappointment," Asada said. "I couldn't execute any of my jumps. I can't be satisfied with the way I performed."
Suzuki assured herself a spot in the GP final with a tremendous performance to "O" from Cirque du Soleil. The world bronze medalist landed six triple jumps and captivated the audience with her program.
Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White retained their lead from the short dance to capture the title in ice dance with 178.48 points. White and Davis, the 2011 world champions, beat Russia's Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov (156.62) by nearly 18 points. Maia and Alex Shibutani, also of the United States, took third place with a total of 154.56.
Davis and White, the 2010 Olympic silver medalists, locked up another trip to the GP final - which they have won the past three years.
The win marked the third time that Davis and White have captured the NHK Trophy and it was the eighth straight Grand Prix victory for the duo. The last regular GP event they entered and did not win was the Cup of Russia in 2008.
Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov of Russia hold a slim lead in pairs after the short program. The Russians top the field with 65.61 points, with Canada's Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch close behind at 65.14.
Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir (61.85) of the U.S. are third.
The free skate in pairs is set for Sunday.