Home Figure Skating News Hase and Volodin dominate Pairs’ at NHK Trophy in debut season

Hase and Volodin dominate Pairs’ at NHK Trophy in debut season

by Paula Slater

Minerva Fabienne Hase and Nikita Volodin of Germany dominate at NHK Trophy in debut season

Minerva Fabienne Hase and Nikita Volodin of Germany won their second consecutive Grand Prix gold at 2023 NHK Trophy.

2023 NHK Trophy: Pairs

Minerva Fabienne Hase and Nikita Volodin of Germany dominated the Pairs’ event at 2023 NHK Trophy, winning the title on Saturday in Osaka, Japan. Italy’s Lucrezia Beccari and Matteo Guarise and Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini battled it out for the remaining two medals, winning silver and bronze, respectively.

Hase/Volodin and Ghilardi/Ambrosini are now headed to the Grand Prix Final in Beijing early next month. Beccari and Guarise are the second alternates.

Minerva Fabienne Hase and Nikita Volodin

Hase and Volodin posted a new personal best score (67.23) for first place in their short program to “Stay.” Their routine featured a good level-three twist and solid side-by-side triple Salchows. The throw triple Salchow and throw triple loop were also clean, and the 2023 Grand Prix Espoo Champions received a level four for the lift, spin and death spiral.

“I am overall super, super happy!” said Hase. “Finally, a clean short program how we show it every day in practice! It was important to have the clean skate today as we know we have tough competition here with the Italian teams.”

“It felt overall a bit more of a relaxing competing this week compared to last week,” she added. “Luckily we don’t really struggle with the jetlag, but we actually practiced at being able to compete at any time of the day to be prepared!”

Volodin was also thrilled and added that his foot, which he injured ahead of the Grand Prix in Finland was “all good now.”

The team also scored a new personal best (135.28) for their free skate to “The Path of Silence” and “Power of Mind.” The routine featured a featured a level-three triple twist and three level four lifts. They landed a side-by-side triple toe-double Axel-double Axel sequence, but Hase put her hand down on the Salchows. That was the only mistake made as they also produced a solid throw triple loop and throw triple Salchow. Their total score of 202.51 was also a personal best.

“We are super happy and relieved,” said Hase. “We wanted to skate better than last week in Espoo, and we did that. It is the first time reaching 200 points for both of us and it means a lot to us.”

The team was thrilled to have qualified for the Final.

“The first goal now is to fix Nikita’s boot,” said Hase. “His hook broke ahead of our free skate. We will still figure out tonight if we will fly back to Berlin or stay in Japan and prepare for the Final here. We want to fix our mistakes, refine the programs and prepare the best way possible for Beijing.”

Lucrezia Beccari and Matteo Guarise

Beccari and Guarise put out a strong routine to “Run,” scoring 66.77 points for second place. The 2023 Skate Canada bronze medalists produced a level-four triple twist, side-by-side triple toes and a throw triple loop. Their lift and death spiral were graded a level four, but they lost a level on the steps which were graded a level three.

“I am struggling a bit with the jetlag,” admitted Beccari. “This is my first time flying to Japan and this time the jetlag hit me more than in Canada. So, I was skating a bit on tired legs, but I am happy with how we did today. This is also my first time in front of such a big audience!”

Guarise said he felt a bit “tense” as well as some jetlag.

“But my body remembered the training and I think we skated well!” he said. “There are still little things to improve on which motivate us. In Japan, you always get a lot of stimulation from the audience. There were so many Italian flags! We feel like spectators really care for us! It’s great, so thank you!”

Beccari fell in love with the Japanese Starbucks, especially the matcha latte! Guarise also bought already four packages of Matcha KitKat to bring home.

Their fun routine to Cats was highlighted by two level-four lifts, level-four triple twist and a throw triple loop. Beccari singled the first Axel in a triple toe-double Axel-double Axel sequence. She also put a foot down on the last jump. The side-by-side triple Salchows were not clean either as she underrotated her jump while he put a foot down. The only other mistake was when she put a hand and foot down on the throw triple Salchow. The Nebelhorn silver medalists finished also lost levels on the death spiral (level one) and Group 5 Axel lift (base value). They finished second in the free skate (123.54) and overall (190.31).

“Today there were even more people than yesterday,” said Beccari. “It was new for me, but I am glad I could keep concentrated and show a good skate. I really enjoy my time in Japan!”

“It was a battle today,” added Guarise. “It was a fight, but we still skated well. Even with mistakes we showed that we can score high, so with a clean long we think we can score 130 in the free. Unfortunately, it was not enough to reach the Final, but for our first Grand Prix season we can he very pleased. We are sure we can reach the Final next year.”

They would like to work on quads in the next off season, on twists or throw jumps.

“We think we have the potential to do it and you have to do something that separates you from the rest of the field,” said Guarise. “The goal of team Italy is to have three spots at the Olympic team for Milano. And I think that is very possible.”

The team wanted to thank Guarise’s former roller-skating partner Claudia Germini and her company “Blue Light” for creating their costume for their “Cats” free skate.

“It was great to work again with my former skating partner!” said Guarise.

Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini

Ghilardi and Ambrosini put out a good routine to music from The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly soundtrack. The triple twist was graded a level four, as was the lift and spin. They also produced a good throw triple Lutz, but she put a hand down on the side-by-side triple Salchows while he stepped out of his. Unfortunately, they also lost some levels on the death spiral and footwork. The 2023 Cup of China silver medalists placed fourth with 62.98 points.

The team acknowledged the mistakes and said they were already focusing on the free skate.

The 2023 European silver medalists opened their free skate with a level-four triple twist, but then Ghilardi underrotated her jump on the side-by-side triple Salchows, putting a foot and hand down on the landing. The rest of their program to music from Bram Stoker’s Dracula soundtrack was solid. The 2023 Finlandia Trophy silver medalists produced a double Axel-double Axel-single Axel sequence, throw triple Lutz, throw triple loop, and three level-four lifts. They finished a very close third (123.49) in the free skate and moved up one spot to third overall (186.47).

“Today we wanted to skate our best and fight and see where this leads us,” said Ghilardi. “We are really happy with how we skated today.”

“We are excited,” added Ambrosini. “Today we enjoyed our performance from the beginning to the end. It was just amazing!”

Their favorite part of their free skate are the throws and the choreo sequence.

When asked what they felt their strength was compared to the other Italian teams, Ghilardi said: “Probably our lifts and our performance being able to give emotions to the audience.”

Anastasia Golubeva and Hektor Giotopoulos Moore

Australia’s Anastasia Golubeva and Hektor Giotopoulos Moore improved a bit on their short since Skate Canada. The team two-time World Junior silver medalists produced a level-two triple twist, side-by-side triple toes, and a throw triple loop. The only difference was that they lost a level on the footwork while gaining one for the level-four lift. The death spiral and spin were also graded a level four, and they finished third with a new personal best (64.61) going into the free skate.

“We feel very tired, ready to sleep, but very happy about our clean skate,” said Giotopoulos Moore. “I didn’t mess up the jumps today, so I am really glad! I think we improved on the twist and the jumps overall!”

“It’s so amazing to skate in Japan,” added Golubeva. “It’s just the best possible audience. So exciting! Last week, just two days apart, we both broke a blade, so we are skating on new blades.”

The 2022 World Junior silver medalists placed fourth in the free skate and overall with two new season best scores (120.78/185.39). They still have issues with the triple twist, which was graded a level two, but the side-by-side jumps were clean. She stepped out of a throw triple loop, but the throw triple Salchow as very good and earned many high GOEs. Two lifts and the pair combination spin were graded a level four.

“We take so much experience from our first senior Grand Prix season,” said Golubeva. “It’s so much more professional and bigger than on the Junior circuit.”

“We are very tired now,” admitted Giotopoulos Moore. “We took out the triple-triple combination because I was struggling in the warmup. We wanted to focus instead on a clean skate given the position we were in.”

Their goal is to have a good, solid free skate as they feel the program has yet to show its full potential.

“Next for us is Australian Nationals,” said Giotopoulos Moore. “We are the only senior team competing there. It will be to gain experience with the programs. Maybe we will try a side-by-side flip there for fun.”

They found out that they are skating to the same music as Ice Dancers Hannah Lim and Ye Quan when they met during the summer in Montreal.

“I was asking Hannah casually what music they were skating to, and she said, ‘Umbrellas of Cherbourg.’ I was like, ‘No way!”

Rounding out the top eight

Daria Danilova and Michel Tsiba of The Netherlands placed fifth overall (177.54) ahead of USA’s Chelsea Liu and Balazs Nagy (172.60).

“Japanese people buy the Dutch flags just to support us,” said Tsiba. “We feel so loved here! Thank you so much!”

“Our goal is to steadily progress,” said Liu. “It was the first time we added the throw loop and I stayed on my feet, so that’s a goal reached. Next goal would be to add another side-by-side triple jump! We hope people can feel our passion for skating when we perform!”

“Next up will be Nationals,” added Nagy. “We will work on polishing the programs.”

Canada’s Kelly Ann Laurin and Loucas Ethier finished seventh (160.79) followed by Yuna Nagaoka and Sumitada Moriguchi of Japan (135.39).

“Yesterday, we maybe skated one of our worst programs of our competitive career,” said Ethier. “We really wanted to mainly skate for ourselves today to prove that we can do it. As a next step, we really want to work on our speed and our skating skills in order to be able to compete with the best!”

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