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Virtuoso performance puts Hanyu in front at NHK

Pogorilaya, Sotskova go one-two for Russia; Peng, Jin upset Canadians
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Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu was in vintage form Friday, whipping through his "Let's Go Crazy" short program -- and, in the process, whipping the crowd into a frenzy. The two-time (2012, '15) NHK gold medalist recorded a season's-best score of 103.89 to put almost 16 points between himself and the rest of the field. -Getty Images

Japan's Yuzuru Hanyu, Anna Pogorilaya of Russia and Chinese pair Cheng Peng and Yang Jin took the lead in their respective disciplines at the 2016 NHK Trophy on Friday.


Performing to "Let's Go Crazy" by Prince, Hanyu pulled off a quad salchow-triple toe, triple axel and quad loop (with a step-out). The Olympic champion picked up a Level 4 on all of his spins and his step sequence, and scored a season's-best 103.89 points.

"I was not able to land the quad loop cleanly, and I'm very disappointed about that; however, I really was able to enjoy my skating today, and I hope it will carry over to tomorrow and the next competition," Hanyu said.

Nathan Chen completed a quad flip-triple toe combination but fell on his opening quad lutz and stumbled on his triple axel. The U.S. bronze medalist earned 87.94 points to place second.

"I'm a little bit disappointed with how I did with my short program," Chen said. "I made two pretty big mistakes, but I'm happy that I hit the (quad) flip and added a combination onto it."

Sitting third is Keiji Tanaka. The Japanese skater's tango routine featured a triple axel and triple flip-triple toe, but he stepped out of his quad salchow.

"I regret that I was not able to land the quad (salchow)," Tanaka said. "However, I was able to calm down and regroup and land my other jumps."

Americans Jason Brown and Grant Hochstein both struggled and sit eighth and 11th, respectively.


Pogorilaya hit a triple lutz-triple toe, triple loop and double axel, and collected a Level 4 for two of her spins and her step sequence in her Scent of a Woman short. The 2016 world bronze medalist picked up 71.56 points.

"Overall, I'm satisfied -- I was able to show my skating -- but obviously there were some little errors that I need to work on," Pogorilaya said.

Skating to "Butterflies Are Free" by Alfred Schnittke, Maria Sotskova of Russia landed a triple lutz-triple toe, triple flip and double axel. Her three spins were rated Level 4, and the world junior silver medalist achieved a new personal best with 69.96 points en route to placing second.

"I am very pleased with my performance, and I really like my score, because it is a new record for me," Sotskova said. "My performance was not so good; I can do better, and I will work on that."

Two-time Japanese champion Satoko Miyahara fell on an underrotated triple lutz but recovered to land a triple loop-double toe and got Level 4's for all of her spins and footwork. The 2015 world bronze medalist came in third after earning 64.20 points.

"Today's performance was very disappointing for me, and I am not satisfied, but I am still in third place, and I hope to do better tomorrow," Miyahara said.

Within striking distance of the podium are American Mirai Nagasu (63.49 points) and Wakaba Higuchi of Japan (62.58 points), who are fourth and fifth, respectively.


Peng and Jin's performance to "My Drag" featured side-by-side triple toes, a triple twist and a throw triple loop. The Cup of China silver medalists picked up a Level 4 for four of their elements to set a new personal best with 73.33 points.

"Today we performed to our ability," Jin said. "The elements are not perfect yet -- we still can improve some things -- but in general, we skated better than at the Cup of China."

Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford produced a strong triple twist as well as a Level 4 lift, spin and death spiral in their program to "Killer" by Seal. There were some rough patches, however, as she fell on the team's throw triple axel, and the Canadians' side-by-side triple lutzes were shaky. The two-time reigning world champions scored 72.95 points to slot in just behind the leaders.

"It wasn't our best performance today, but it wasn't our worst," Duhamel said. "We can do [the throw triple axel] -- we did it very well in practice here -- so that was disappointing, but I think the overall program was better than at our first Grand Prix, at Skate Canada."

China's Xuehan Wang and Lei Wang completed a triple twist and throw triple loop in their routine set to "Steppin' Out with My Baby," but she underrotated her triple toe. The Chinese team earned 65.66 points on their way to a third-place finish.

Mari Vartmann and Ruben Blommaert of Germany came in fourth (61.23 points), followed by Americans Tarah Kayne and Daniel O'Shea (57.02 points) in fifth.