Kavaguti, Smirnov win NHK Trophy
Russian pair Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov clinched their second Grand Prix title in succession after recovering from fifth position overnight to win the NHK Trophy in Sapporo.
The duo won the Cup of China last week and again thrived as they danced to Claude Debussy's "Clair de Lune" in the free skate.
The Russian pair hit a maximum level-four with a flying change-foot spin, two lifts and a combination spin.
Kavaguti and Smirnov scored 122.49 points in the free skate for a combined total of 177.51, overcoming a 4.21-point gap against Germany's world champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy, who topped Friday's short programme.
The German pair could only manage a third best score of 112.45 in the free skate to finish third overall on 171.68.
Japan's Narumi Takahashi and Mervin Tran, who won last season's junior Grand Prix final, maintained second spot on 172.09 after scoring 114.20 in the free skate.
"Yesterday, we were too happy about skating in Japan to focus on our elements," Kavaguti said.
"But today we stayed calm with nothing on our mind. I only thought about skating with my partner.
"We tried just to skate our best with no thought given to our short programme result. We watched other pairs skate and did not expect to win."
The Russians won the European championships in 2009-2010 but finished runners-up to the German pair last season.
In the short programme, Kavaguti tumbled in her opening triple toeloop and lost her poise when she landed after a throw triple toeloop.
Meanwhile in the free skate Takahashi stepped out at the end of a triple-double combination and was two-footed in landing a throw triple toeloop.
But the pair hit a level-four in five elements, including spins, lifts and a backward outside death spiral.
"I feel very happy because we could show our strong skating to the audience," Takahashi said.
Mixed pairs final results
1 Kavaguti/Smirnov 177.51
2 Takahashi/Tran 172.09
3 Savchenko/Szolkowy 171.68
4 Berton/Hotarek 163.83
5 Denney/Coughlin 163.75
6 Iliushechkina/Maisuradze 159.01
7 Castelli/Shnapir 149.02
8 Purich/Schultz 128.17