NHK Trophy concluded Sunday in Osaka, Japan with the Free Dance and the Exhibition Gala. NHK Trophy was the sixth and final event in the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating series and thus provided the last opportunity for skaters to qualify for the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Barcelona, Spain in December.
Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje (CAN) dance to gold
Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje of Canada danced to the gold medal. Russians Ksenia Monko/Kirill Khaliavin moved up on spot to take the silver medal and Kaitlin Hawayek/Jean-Luc Baker (USA) pulled up from fourth to pick up the bronze.
Weaver/Poje put out a strong performance to Vivaldi's "Four Seasons", re-arranged by Max Richter. The World silver medalists earned a level four for their lifts and the spin while the footwork and the twizzles were rated a level three. The Skate Canada Champions scored 101.91 points and totaled 169.72 points. They qualified for the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final.
"Kaitlyn and I definitely feel very happy right now. This is the first time that we've won at NHK. We did make a couple of mistakes that we definitely want to fix going into the Final", Poje said. "We are very excited to go to the Grand Prix Final again. We hope to continue to grow the programs that we have chosen this year. We left out some levels at previous competitions and we want to make sure we use this short turn around to work on that and to put out two performances that we are very proud of and that the audience enjoys in Spain", he added.
Dancing to "Sarabande", Monko/Khaliavin completed level-four lifts, twizzels and a level-four spin. The step sequences garnered a level three. The 2011 World Junior Champions posted a new personal best score of 92.84 points which added up to 152.54 points overall. Monko/Khaliavin won their first medal on the senior Grand Prix circuit and are first substitutes for the Final. „This medal is a big motivation for us. It will help us mentally in the next competition. Two weeks ago I had a birthday and this medal is the best present", Khaliavin told the post-event press conference.
Hawayek/Baker's dance to "Romeo and Juliet" by Abel Korzeniowski featured difficult lifts and twizzles, but the circular step sequence and the combination spin garnered only a level two. The reigning World Junior Champions scored 87.91 points and accumulated 146.41 points to win their first senior Grand Prix medal. "Kaitlin and I are both extremely thrilled with this being only our second Grand Prix and it's our first year senior. We really approached the event with little to no expectations for placement and just wanted to put our name out there on the international field and it looks like we got there", Baker commented.
Nelli Zhiganshina/Alexander Gazsi (GER) moved up from sixth to fourth at 138.41 points while Penny Coomes/Nicholas Buckland (GBR) dropped from second to fifth after he fell in the midline step sequence.