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Russia wins ladies, men's titles on Day Two at NHK

Voronov defies age, becomes oldest men's skater to win Grand Prix event
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Evgenia Medvedeva clinched a place at the Grand Prix Final with another triumphant performance. By gaining 144.40 points for her 'Anna Karenina' routine, the Russian won the free skate, and she locked up the gold medal with an event total of 224.39. -Getty Images

Russia's Evgenia Medvedeva and Sergei Voronov claimed the ladies and men's titles, respectively, on the second day of competition at the 2017 NHK Trophy in Osaka, Japan. Wenjing Sui and Cong Han of China claimed their second gold medal of this year's Grand Prix Series, posting a world record free skate score in the process, and Canada's Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir took the lead in the ice dance competition.

Ladies

Medvedeva overcame a fall to win her second Grand Prix gold medal in this year's series. In a repeat of the Rostelecom Cup result, five-time European champion Carolina Kostner of Italy claimed the silver medal behind Medvedeva. Russia's Polina Tsurskaya earned the bronze in her Grand Prix debut.

Medvedeva had a shaky start to her dramatic Anna Karenina program, falling on her opening triple flip and stepping out of her ensuing triple lutz. However, the two-time world champion pulled herself together to produce triple flip-triple toe and triple salchow-triple toe combinations as well as a triple loop, two double axels and Level 4 spins and footwork.

The Russian champion scored 144.40 points, giving her an overall total of 224.39.

"I am not satisfied with my free skating, but I am glad that I did my triple flip-triple toe combination in the second half of my program," she said. "That was the best part of my program today. My main goal is always trying to do my best, not only for the result but first of all for my soul."

Kostner's elegant and fluid performance to "Afternoon of a Faun" by Claude Debussy featured a triple flip-double toe combination as well as three more triple jumps and exquisite spins and footwork. She ranked third in the free skate with 137.67 points and held onto second place overall (212.24 points).

"It is amazing to skate in Japan, where you feel this love for our sport," she said. "It is always a great motivation and inspiration.

"As for my performance, I made two mistakes today, actually on easier elements, which is too bad. But mistakes happen and show you where some work is needed."

Tsurskaya laid down a clean program to "Nocturne in F Minor Op. 55" by Chopin and "Song for the Little Sparrow," reeling off seven triple jumps, including a triple lutz-triple toe combination, and difficult spins and steps.

The 2015 Junior Grand Prix Final champion set a new personal best in the free skate with 140.15 points, the second-best score in the segment, and she remained in third place overall (210.19).

"My performance was very good for today, but we will continue to work," the 16-year-old said. "I will go back home and prepare for my second Grand Prix, Skate America. We want to fix the issues I had, and I hope to skate better and get more points."

American Mirai Nagasu under-rotated her triple axel but landed six clean triples to move up one spot to fourth place (194.46).

Men's

Voronov might have been the oldest man in the competition, but he also proved to be the best, as the 30-year-old claimed the first Grand Prix gold medal of his career. Team USA's Adam Rippon pulled up from fourth to earn the silver, and Israel's Alexei Bychenko took home the bronze.

Voronov put out an emotional and powerful performance to "Sarabande Suite (Aeternae)," nailing a quad toe-triple toe, two big triple axels and three more triple jumps. The only glitch came when he two-footed his second quad toe. The two-time European medalist set a new personal best with 181.06 points in the free skate and racked up 271.12 points overall.

"Right now, I just feel tiredness," Voronov said. "Without any doubts, I am happy to have won this competition. There were some questions today in practice, and it was not easy, but when I stepped on to the ice, thanks to the support of the crowd, I was able to pull myself together and skate almost without any mistake."

Rippon under-rotated his opening quad lutz in his "Arrival of the Birds"/"O" free skate before going on to hit eight clean triple jumps, including two axels. His spins and footwork all merited Level 4 grading. The American picked up a season's best 177.04 points and accumulated 261.99 points overall.

"First, this competition means a lot to me because 10 months ago I was lying in bed, wearing a cast, with a broken foot. From that moment to this moment, it feels great to have skated so well tonight in my first Grand Prix of the season in the Olympic year," Rippon said. "Second, I think it is really cool that the three oldest guys in the competition are on the podium. I'd also like to point out that I am the youngest one."

Skating to the opera Pagliacci, Bychenko completed a quad toe and four clean triples but stepped out of the back end of his quad toe-triple toe and a triple axel. He still managed a season's best of 166.55 points, giving him 252.07 overall and the second Grand Prix medal of his career.

"I made a few big mistakes, like popping a jump, and I almost fell on another jump, but I started the season late, and for my second competition, it was not so bad," Bychenko said. "It was a good experience, and we know what we have to work on."

Jason Brown of the U.S. fell on both of his triple axels and slipped from third after the short to fourth overall (245.95 points). Canada's Keegan Messing came in fifth with 235.80 points, while Deniss Vasiljevs of Latvia ranked sixth (234.80).

Pairs

Sui and Han reeled off a quad twist, side-by-side triple toe-double toe-double toes and side-by-side triple salchows during their outstanding free to Giacomo Puccini's Turandot, which also included a throw triple flip and throw triple salchow. The reigning Four Continents champions received a Level 4 for their lifts, pairs spin and death spiral.

Their segment score of 155.10 points surpassed the previous world record mark of 154.66, set by Russia's Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov at 2013 Skate America.

"Today, we skated relaxed and we performed as we can in training," Sui said. "However, there is still room for improvement, and we are looking forward to doing better next time."

"I didn't even realize that we have a new record score," Han added. "Maybe it will sink in later that we have achieved something big like that."

Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov delivered a sharp performance to Carmen, one that was highlighted by a throw triple flip, a throw triple salchow, side-by-side triple salchows and difficult lifts. The 2014 world silver medalists attempted a rare triple toe-triple toe combination, and although they stepped out of the landing of the second jump, their free skate score of 147.69 and overall tally of 222.74 helped them lock up the silver medal.

"We skated a lot better than in our previous competitions in both short and free skating, so we are very pleased with that," Klimov said. "We are also happy that we go to the Grand Prix Final. We missed the Grand Prix last season, so it is important for us to return to the Final."

Performing to the music of La La Land, Kristina Astakhova and Alexei Rogonov completed side-by-side triple toe-double toe-double toe combinations, a triple twist, a throw triple flip and a throw triple loop. The couple from Moscow posted a new personal-best score of 133.17, and their event total of 203.64 enabled them to win bronze, their second medal on the Grand Prix circuit this season.

"Everything today was at a high level, and we are pleased with our performance," Rogonov said. "Obviously, there are some problems with the jet lag and Kristina is a bit sick, but we are glad that almost everything worked out and we did our job today."

Julianne Séguin and Charlie Bilodeau of Canada finished fourth in the final standings with 194.37 points, while Team USA's Alexa Scimeca Knierim and Chris Knierim slipped to fifth with 192.51 points.

Ice Dance

Virtue and Moir put forth a fast-paced and entertaining dance to "Sympathy for the Devil," "Hotel California" and "Oye Como Va," executing intricate footwork and a rotational lift with ease, though Virtue wobbled a bit at the end of the twizzle sequence. The 2014 Olympic silver medalists earned a Level 4 for their side-by-side footwork, rumba pattern, step sequence and rotational lift, leading them to a score of 80.92 points.

"We had a quick turnaround from Skate Canada to here, so we had to be strategic about the improvements we wanted to make in each program," Virtue said. "It certainly was a step forward in a lot of the elements, and we are pleased with the attack that we had and with our technical proficiency."

Team USA's Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue's short dance was highlighted by excellent twizzles, a curve lift and a Level 4 rumba pattern. The Skate Canada bronze medalists posted a new season's best mark of 76.31 points to place second in the segment.

"We were a bit nervous, we made some mistakes in practice, but we were really able to stay together during this afternoon's performance and show the consistency of skating another strong short dance," Hubbell said.

Dancing to a medley of cha cha and samba arrangements, Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte produced three Level 4 elements and two Level 3 elements to also achieve a new season's best mark of 75.87.

"It's always fun to come to Japan, and Latin is a fun music to skate to," Cappellini said. "We realize that we lost technically a little bit and we'll try to make up for it and improve our score."

Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov of Russia sit fourth with 72.49 points, while Great Britian's Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland are fifth with 65.64 points.