November 25, 2012

SENDAI, Japan (AP) -- Russian figure skaters Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov won the pairs event at the NHK Trophy on Sunday to secure a place at next month's Grand Prix final.

Bazarova and Larionov, who were first after the short program, finished first with 192.02 points after Sunday's free skate, ahead of Canadians Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch, who were second with 180.63 points. Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir of the United States were third with 174.51 points.

"We're very happy to win," Bazarova said. "This is the first time for us to win a GP event at the senior level. There were a few mistakes with our jumps and that is something we have to work on. We're also happy to qualify for the GP final in Russia."

Barazova and Larionov were deducted points for an under-rotated combination jump early in their routine but recovered by executing some difficult throws to impress the judges.

Moore-Towers and Moscovitch also advanced to the GP final, which will be held in Sochi, Russia, from Dec. 6-9. The NHK Trophy is the sixth event of the International Skating Union's GP series.

"Our skate wasn't ideal and we could have been better but we're happy to go the GP final," Moscovitch said. "The fans here today were incredible, the love they have for the sport is remarkable."

Russians Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov had previously qualified for the GP finals along with compatriots Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov.

"The level of figure skating is improving in Russia," Bazarova said. "We have many new skaters in pairs, especially before the Olympics, so it is very competitive right now, which is good."

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