Suzuki pips Asada in Sapporo
Akiko Suzuki held off the charge of compatriot and Olympic silver medallist Mao Asada for the second day running to win ladies gold at the NHK Trophy in Sapporo.
Holding a healthy lead after the short program Suzuki just managed to edge out Asada following the free skate to win her first ISU Figure Skating Grand Prix title of the season.
Suzuki, who won silver at the Skate Canada international, finished with 185.98 points after being awarded 125.77 for her free skate while Asada’s effort of 119.43 was only enough for 184.19 overall and silver.
It did ensure a Japanese one-two in Sapporo however with Russia’s Alena Leonova, who was ranked second after the short program, taking bronze with 170.68.
Meanwhile, American ice dance siblings Maia and Alex Shibutani finally got their hands on gold – moving up from third to first following the free dance.
They had to settle for silver a week ago at the Cup of China but had their moment in the limelight in Japan just ending on top with a total of 151.85.
Russian duo Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov led after the short dance but the Shibutani siblings’ free dance score of 92.83 put them on top of the pile.
Canadian’s Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje could only muster 91.69, giving them a total of 151.76 for silver, while Ilinykh and Katsalapov took bronze with 149.48.
Meanwhile, in the pairs Russian’s Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov took gold at a canter after finishing with a total of 122.49 following their free skate for 177.51 overall.
They got the better of home hopefuls Narumi Takahashi and Mervin Tran who settled for silver with 172.09 while reigning world champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy fell to third.
And after the men’s short program Olympic bronze medallist Daisuke Takahashi holds a massive lead over Japanese teammate Takahiko Kozuka scoring 90.43 to his 79.77.