Shoma Uno defends men’s title at NHK Trophy

SAPPORO, Japan (AP) — Japan’s Shoma Uno defended his men’s title at the Grand Prix of Figure Skating’s NHK Trophy, scoring a season best free skate and total score to beat compatriot Sota Yamamoto.

Uno, the Beijing Winter Olympic bronze medalist, scored 188.10 for his free skate to total 279.76 at the Makomanai Sekisuiheim Ice Arena, finishing 21.91 ahead of Yamamoto. South Korea’s Cha Jun Hwan took bronze with 254.76.

The 24-year-old’s clean routine included several quadruple jumps, including a quad loop and a quad toe loop-double toe loop combination.

“I somehow made it through this meet,” Uno said. “I’m just glad that I am able to get through to the (Grand Prix) Final with this result.”

Yamamoto fell twice on his way to the sixth-best segment score of 161.36, but a strong short program was enough for the Japanese to hold on to the silver medal.

“I was concentrating on my performance but made a few mistakes,” Yamamoto said. “I’m really happy with the result, but I still have a way to go. I will do my best while aiming for a more complete performance.”

In the women’s event, South Korea’s Kim Ye Lim won her maiden Grand Prix title, narrowly beating world champion Kaori Sakamoto of Japan. Rion Sumiyoshi, also of Japan, took bronze.

Sakamoto earned the highest free skate score of 133.80, but her total of 201.87 left her just adrift of Kim’s 204.49.

Sakamoto cleanly landed a series of jumps including a triple lutz and a triple flip-double toe loop combination, but lost points by turning a triple loop into a single, which proved the difference.

“Even though it was a little frustrating, I did the best I could in the moment, so I’m happy about that,” Sakamoto said.

Short program winner Kim touched the ice with her hand on a triple flip and fell on a combination attempt, but landed multiple triple jumps for a score of 132.27.

“I can’t believe I got first place at a Grand Prix series,” Kim said. I’m so happy and I’m going to cry.”

In pairs, Japan’s Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara cruised to their second Grand Prix gold, totaling 216.16 to finish 28.67 ahead of Americans Emily Chan and Spencer Akira Howe. Canada’s Brooke McIntosh and Benjamin Mimar took bronze with 175.65.

In the ice dance, Canada’s Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Soerensen won with 210.41, finishing 1.28 ahead of Madison Chock and Evan Bates of the United States.

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