Home Figure Skating News Yuma Kagiyama reclaims NHK Trophy title

Yuma Kagiyama reclaims NHK Trophy title

by Paula Slater
Getty Images

Yuma Kagiyama reclaims NHK Trophy title

Japan’s Yuma Kagiyama reclaimed the NHK Trophy title after winning the event three years ago in 2020.

2023 NHK Trophy: Men

Yuma Kagiyama of Japan reclaimed the NHK Trophy title that he won in 2020 on November 25, 2023, in Osaka, Japan. Teammate Shoma Uno settled for silver, while Lukas Britschgi of Switzerland pocketed his first Grand Prix medal, the bronze.

Both Kagiyama and Uno qualified for the Grand Prix Final in Beijing.

Yuma Kagiyama

Kagiyama delivered a vastly improved short to “Believer” since his last outing three weeks ago. The 2023 Grand Prix de France bronze medalist landed a solid quad Salchow, quad toe-triple toe and triple Axel. All three jumps earned very high GOES, mostly +3 and +4. The level-four spins and footwork were also very good, and he placed first with a season’s best of 105.51.

“I am about 90% satisfied with my performance,” said the 2022 Olympic silver medalist. “I have many thoughts, but I was able to overcome all the hurdles. I was very happy to return to Japan and skate in front of everyone.”

The skater said he felt the program went as smoothly as it did in training, from start to finish, including the warmup.

“I didn’t have a different feeling because this was a competition,” said Kagiyama. “From the start, I paid a lot of attention to my jumps, but I also cared for every single element, the spins and steps. I tried to look into everyone’s face and express myself. Today, I wanted to perform perfectly. I’m happy to have reached 105 points. I also took level 4 in all spins.”

Determined to improve upon his performances in France, the 20-year-old aimed for a better showing in the free skate at this event, still holding regrets about his previous outing. And he did.

The two-time World silver medalist only made one major mistake in his dramatic free skate when he took a fall on a triple Axel. He otherwise landed a quad Salchow, quad toe-Euler-double Salchow and four more triple jumps. All of the latter jumps received very high GOEs, mostly in the +3 range. The level-four footwork and spins were stellar, and he racked up high GOEs for those elements as well. He finished second in the free skate (182.88) and was able to hold on to first place overall with a total score of 288.39.

“Emotionally, I was prepared very well,” said Kagiyama. “I want to watch the recording to know what was wrong with the Axel. About the rest, I was very calm. After the skating, I felt like, “hmm”. I haven’t made this mistake in training, so I was shocked, but I could continue the rest of the program like in training.”

“I felt that this competition was going to be hard, but I didn’t want to overthink,” he summed up. “I just wanted to do what I can do and improve my flaws for the coming competition. It will be my first Grand Prix Final, so I still have many things to work on. I’ll try to improve and focus on myself. As long as I show a good performance, the score will follow, so I’ll try not to make mistakes.”

Shoma Uno

Uno opened his short program to music from the Everything Everywhere All at Once soundtrack with a very good quad flip. However, on the quad toe-triple toe, he landed the first jump on the quarter and underrotated the second jump. The triple Axel was good, and he also earned a level four for two spins and his footwork. He scored 100.20 points for second place.

“I think today’s performance was very good,” said the two-time Olympic medalist. “I gave all I have in terms of my expression. The score isn’t too bad. Overall, I’m satisfied.”

Uno noted his mistake on the second jumping pass but is still happy with the performance.

“In China, my condition wasn’t too good,” pointed out the 2023 Cup of China silver medalist. “I did my best to express myself. This time, I wanted to pull off everything I did at my training. To be honest, a competition is one way to understand what to polish. Last year, I would have jumped a 4-2 combination, but everyone told me to jump a triple combination. So, everyone, how was it?”

Uno also expressed that he was happy to see Kagiyama back on the ice.

“Last year, he motivated me to feel more passionate about skating,” said Uno. “He’s a very special athlete. In the morning, the feeling on the ice was different than during the competition, but he was able to adapt to. He is good at everything. When he skates perfectly, I think he might be able to surpass all the other skaters, even Malinin.”

Uno was also asked about the words “I love you” at the beginning of his short program.

“I haven’t really thought about it, I’m afraid,” he responded. “There is nothing too much about this phrase. It’s a combination of three pieces of music and Stéphane brought it to me. This music is not that typically Japanese, more common in the Western world. Unfortunately, there is really not much for me to talk about.”

Uno struggled with some jumps in his free skate, landing all four quads on the quarter. While he landed two triple Axels, he popped a solo quad toe and the mistakes added up. Yet, two spins and the footwork garnered a level four with high GOEs. The two-time and current World champion placed first in the free skate with 186.35 points. However, the total score (286.55) was shy of the top spot by 1.85 points, and he maintained second overall.

Still, the skater said he was pleased overall with his performance and felt he skated pretty well.

“Now I am really exhausted,” he said. “I noticed that some jumps were underrotated, but the jumps and steps weren’t too bad, so I expected more [regarding the score]. It was like in training, but I failed the quads because I was too cautious about the rotation. I think it was a good performance. Judging my performance regarding the artistry, I would like to look at my performances first. I was really focused on the competition. I want to watch it again and consider how I would feel myself if I was a spectator.”

Lukas Britschgi

Switzerland’s Lukas Britschgi put a hand down on quad toe in combination with a double toe in his short program. That was the only mistake made in his upbeat routine to “I’m in the Mood” and “Superstition.” The triple Axel and triple Lutz were both solid, and his spins and footwork were awarded a level four. All elements, except for the first jump, earned many positive GOEs and he placed third (86.42).

“I feel great!” said the 2023 European bronze medalist. “The audience is incredible! Nowhere else in the world you can experience this. It wasn’t perfect, but I am still glad I could repeat the result from France, and I could show that I am mentally and physically ready.”

“The last weeks have been a bit stressful with the Warsaw Cup,” added Britschgi. “But look at what Adam Siao him Fa is doing, you can get used to that. After this competition, I will take a bit time off before nationals. It’s a new feeling, to be so high in the ranking. It’s an honor for me to compete in between great guys like Deniss (Vasiljevs) and Shoma.”

Britschigi picked up 168.18 points for his free skate which featured two quad toes. He also landed a two triple Axels along with three more jumps. The only mistake came when he doubled the frontend of a triple flip-Euler-triple Salchow. He achieved a level four grading for all spins, securing a third-place finish overall with a total score of 254.60.

He was very happy with his result.

“I did my job, two more or less clean performances,” he said. “The audience was fantastic; it was even more full than yesterday! I felt the energy and the support. It feels amazing to be on the podium here in Japan!”

The 25-year-old is currently working on a quad Salchow.

“This was not the competition to try something out,” he pointed out. “But maybe later in the season or next season. I have to improve!”

Nika Egadze

Georgia’s Nika Egadze was seventh (81.30) going into the free skate. He fell on his opening quad toe, but quickly recovered to land a quad Salchow-triple toe and solo quad Salchow. His routine to music from Moulin Rouge featured four more clean triple jumps and a level four change combination spin. The 2023 Lombardia Trophy silver medalist placed fourth in the free skate (156.04) and moved up three spots to fourth overall (237.34).

“I feel okay,” he said. “It was not the best one; I made so many mistakes. I was fighting to compete well. I rushed into the quad toe.”

“I watch every skater,” said the 21-year-old. “They’re skating very calmly. I would like to learn that.”

His favorite skater is USA’s Nathan Chen. “I really like his jumps and his confidence.”

Camden Pulkinen

USA’s Camden Pulkinen earned a new season’s best of 86.40 for his short program to “A Different Kind of Love.” His routine featured a clean quad toe, triple Axel and triple Lutz-triple toe. The only mistake came when he put a foot down during the change on his combination spin. He earned a level four for his footwork and two additional spins.

“I’m feeling good,” said the 23-year-old. “I had good support from friends and I’m happy to have delivered here. The spin was a little bad, I got a little tired, but I’m very happy of what I pulled off.”

“I feel, between Grand Prixes, it’s hard to push, because one’s always tired, so I’m keeping my body fit,” he added. “I know that in France I skated very well, so I have trust in the work I’ve put in prior.”

Sight-seeing was something Pulkinen was also pleased that he was able to do this time around.

“Last time, NHK was during the pandemic, and I couldn’t go out,” he recalled. “So, I remember pulling the window down in the back of the bus. I’m happy I can go out and enjoy Japan.”

His free skate to Tosca didn’t go as well as he’d hoped. While he landed a quad toe, he doubled the first jump of a triple Lutz-triple toe and then stepped out of the back end of a triple Axel-Euler-double Salchow. He later stepped out triple Axel-double Axel sequence and received an edge call on a triple flip. The fly combination spin was the only one among his three spins that received a level four. He placed eighth (142.92) in the free skate and slipped to fifth overall (229.32).

“It was a fight,” Pulkinen conceded. “I’m definitely tired. The jetlag hit me and it’s the end of the Grand Prix season. I was upset, I left about 30 points on the table. I was a little bit nervous, knowing I was so close to a medal. I was a little bit stressed.”

“I haven’t been in a podium position in a long time, so next time I will try better,” he added. “I’d like to add back a second quad. I think it’s possible considering how it went this week.”

Gabriele Frangipani

Italy’s Gabriele Frangipani moved up two spots to sixth overall (227.15) after his sixth-place free skate (148.95).

“I am happy about the technical part, not so happy with the skating part,” said the national bronze medalist. “I felt very tired today. But overall, I am 50% pleased with my performance at this competition. Now I will go home and do laundry! It’s about time. Especially with the competition costumes!”

The 21-year-old hopes to ready for nationals this season.

“I want to win there!” he said. “If I win there, it means I skated my best! It will be a tough competition, but this year I have the confidence that I can win!”

Rounding out the top 12

Deniss Vasiljevs of Latvia slipped from fifth to seventh overall (221.95).

He really enjoyed training in Japan during the last week and experiencing the Japanese culture.

“I just love coming here!” said Vasiljevs. “I deeply admire the culture and work ethic here. I stayed near the Kyoto area, and I had the authentic experience to live in a Japanese home. And honestly it felt so great and at the same time I wasn’t used to the fact that everything is so well optimized. It felt like “wow”! It’s so different and I appreciate it so much.”

“Here in Osaka, we are staying next to the castle,” he added. “To see this greenery next to these magnificent modern buildings, it stimulates my growth and curiosity in learning. I can compare this actually also to my skating. I am struggling between developing the technical side with keeping my passion for artistry.”

Estonia’s Aleksandr Selevko finished eighth (221.43) and will compete next in the Challenger event in Zagreb, Croatia.

“I didn’t expect to compete here,” said the 2023 Finlandia Trophy bronze medalist. “I was actually prepared for a bit of a longer rest. I was not ready to skate clean, I guess!”

“I love my Japanese fans,” added the 22-year-old. They support me a lot! I get so many gifts that I have my suitcases always super full when I come back from Japan. It’s amazing, I love it here!”

Japan’s Tatsuya Tsuboi finished ninth (216.62) ahead of Luc Economides of France (211.12), Wesley Chiu of Canada (209.16) and Mihhail Selevko of Estonia (207.58).

Related Info:

Related Articles

Founded in 1999, Golden Skate provides resources for the sport of figure skating worldwide. This includes interviews, features, videos, club listings, a discussion board and more.

You cannot copy content of this page