World pairs champions Wenjing Sui/Cong Han of China stormed to gold and set a record Free Skating score as competition at the NHK Trophy in Osaka continued on Saturday. Russia’s Olympic silver medallists Ksenia Stolbova/Fedor Klimov claimed the silver medal, and the bronze went to Kristina Astakhova/Alexei Rogonov, also of Russia.
Sui/Han reeled off a quad twist, side by side triple toe-double toe-double toe, triple Salchow, throw triple flip and Salchow in their spectacular performance to Puccini’s ‘Turandot’ and also collected a level four for their lifts, pair spin and death spiral.
The reigning Four Continents champions scored 155.10 points, surpassing the previous highest score of 154.66 points set by Tatiana Volosozhar/ Maxim Trankov four years ago at Skate America.
“Today we skated in a relaxed was and we performed as we can do in training and showed what we have worked hard for,” Sui said. "However, there is still room for improvement and we are looking forward to doing better next time." Han added: "I didn’t even realize that we have a new record score. Maybe it will sink in later that we have achieved something big like that.”
Stolbova/Klimov put out a sharp performance to ‘Carmen’ that was highlighted by a throw triple flip, a throw triple Salchow at the end as well as a side by side triple Salchow and difficult lifts.
The 2014 world silver medallists went for a rare triple toe-triple toe combination but stepped out of the landing of the second jump. The multiple European medalists achieved a new season’s best with 147.69 points and accumulated 222.74 overall.
“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 ‘La La Land’, Astakhova/Rogonov completed a triple toe-double toe-double toe combination, triple twist, throw triple flip and loop. However, she doubled the side by side Salchow.
The couple from Moscow posted a new personal best with 133.17 points for a total of 203.64 to take their second bronze 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 jetlag and Kristina is a bit sick, but we are glad that almost everything worked out and we did our job today."
The ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating series consists of six events and culminates in the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Nagoya, Japan, in December. The top six skaters/couples in each discipline qualify for the final. The global prize money for the Grand Prix is US $ 272,000.
Full entry lists and results of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating 2017/18 are available here. Follow the discussion on social media by using#GPFigure #FigureSkating.