Takahashi wins 5th NHK Trophy
TOKYO (AP) - Local favorite Daisuke Takahashi produced a solid free skate on Saturday to win his fifth NHK Trophy.
Takahashi, who had a 10-point lead after the short program, received 268.31 points after the free skate to finish 15 points ahead of second-place Nobunari Oda.
Three-time U.S. champion Jeremy Abbott, who was seventh after the short program, had a strong free skate and finished third with 237.41 points.
Takahashi, who was a disappointing fourth at Skate America, hit his opening quad toeloop. He had a shaky landing on a triple axel and was downgraded on a combination jump but was solid otherwise.
''I didn't do well at Skate America so I was determined to get my confidence back,'' Takahashi said. ''I wasn't perfect today but little by little was able to gain momentum.''
Two-time world champion Mao Asada completed a successful day for the host nation by winning the free skate to capture her fourth NHK Trophy.
Asada, who was first after the short program, under-rotated her opening triple axel but finished with a total of 207.59 points. Coupled with her win at Skate America, Asada secured a berth at the Grand Prix final next month in the Fukuoka, Japan.
''I was a bit disappointed not to do the triple axel cleanly,'' Asada said. ''It's something I want to be able to do well but I'm happy with the overall result.''
Russian Elena Radionova was second with 191.81 points while Japan's Akiko Suzuki finished third with 179.32. Gracie Gold of the United States was third in the free skate but finished fourth overall with 177.81 points.
Russia's Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov won the pairs by an overwhelming margin of more than 50 points. The defending world champions totaled 236.49 in their victory, while second-place Peng Cheng and Zhang Hao of China received just 182.18. Volosozhar and Trankov extended their impressive streak of victories with the triumph and qualified for the GP final.
Two-time world champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the United States lead the ice dance after the short dance. Davis and White (73.70) are more than nine points ahead of Italy's Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte (64.58) heading into Sunday's free dance.
The NHK Trophy is the fourth of six events in the International Skating Union's Grand Prix series. The next event is the Trophee Bompard in Paris next week.
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