2019 NHK Trophy
Pairs’ Free Skate
Wenjing Sui and Cong Han of China held their overnight lead to win their second NHK Trophy gold on Saturday in Sapporo, Japan. took a comfortable 10-point lead in the Pairs’ Short Program on Friday in Sapporo, Japan. Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro of Canada are taking home their second consecutive Grand Prix (GP) silver, while GP debutantes Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov of Russia earned the bronze.
Sui and Han mesmerized the audience with their powerful free skate “Rain, In Your Black Eyes” by Ezio Bosso. The only error came when Sui went down on the side-by-side triple toe combination. The 2018 Olympic silver medalists otherwise landed side-by-side triple Salchows and showed good difficult level 4 lifts, twist, spin, as well as a strong throw triple Salchow and triple flip. All elements received mostly +4 grades of execution (GOE) with the exception of the side-by-side jumps, and the team finished first in the free skate (145.69) and overall (226.96).
“We are very happy that we were able to compete in a Japanese competition,” said Han. “We were able to exert the levels we had practiced and we are happy that we were able to mark the record high score (in the Short Program). We had some mistakes in the free program, but I think it was very good.”
Han also talked about working with choreographer Lori Nichol and how much they enjoy her frequent trips to China to work with the team.
“She gives us a lot of ideas and which is the best way for us,” he said. “For pairs, not only the elements are such important, but we want to show it from our heart. We want to make the pairs more different so the audience can see your soul in the programs, so we can show who is the best in the world in pairs.”
The team also has high expectations for the Grand Prix Final which will take place next month.
“We will fix the issues for our best performance,” said Han, regarding their preparation for the competition in Torino, Italy.
The 2019 Four Continents and World champions are extremely excited that their home country will be hosting the Olympics in Beijing.
“China is the first country to host both the Summer Games and the Winter Games in the same city (Beijing), so it’s exciting for athletes to come and compete in our home country,” said Han. “I want to do my very best in 2022.”
“For the Winter Olympics, I am very excited,” agreed Sui. “We just want to make sure we practice every day. Our mission was to qualify for the Finals, but then it was the Cup of China, where we saw an unexpected accident. I had a high fever, so I could not practice for about a week. I was not quite sure I could skate the free program completely, so today, I felt completely drained afterwards. Going forward, we want to do our best towards the Olympic Games.”
In their expressive routine to “Carry You” by Ruelle, Canadian champions Moore-Towers and Marinaro produced a triple twist, good side-by-side triple Salchow-double toe-double toes and triple toes, as well as a solid throw triple loop and triple Salchow. The 2019 Skate Canada silver medalists earned a level 4 on two of their lifts and were rewarded with a score of 137.28 for second place in the free skate and overall (208.49). With their second GP medal of the season, the team qualified for a slot at the GP Final and will share ice with Sui and Han in December.
“Overall, we are happy with our week,” said Moore-Towers. “I think it’s every athlete’s hope that they will compete the way they train and we’re happy to have done that this week,” said Moore-Towers. Our goal was to qualify for the Grand Prix Final. It’s our first as a team. We left a few levels on the table that we will pick up in two weeks in Italy.”
Mishina and Galliamov put out a clean routine to music from The Master and Margarita which included a level 3 triple twist, side-by-side triple Salchow-Euler-triple Salchows and triple toes, and a good throw triple flip and triple loop. The 2019 World Junior champions finished third in the free skate with 134.35 and overall (203.35).
“The first time for us to come to Japan as a senior pair, so we appreciate the Japanese audience for their support,” said Mishina. “We were able to do what we set out to do, so we hope to come to Japan again and compete. We want to skate cleanly without making mistakes.”
Teammates Alisa Efimova and Alexander Korovin finished fourth overall (189.34), followed by the new Japanese team of Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara (179.94) and USA’s Tarah Kayne and Danny O’Shea (178.73).