Osaka / Japan

The 2010 Olympic champions Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir (CAN) dominated in the Short Dance as competition continued at the NHK Trophy in Osaka on Saturday. Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue (USA) edged out Italy’s 2014 world champions Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte by less than a point for second place.

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Virtue/Moir put out a fast-paced and characteristic dance to the samba ‘Sympathy for the Devil’, rhumba ‘Hotel California’ and cha-cha ‘Oye Como Va’, executing intricate footwork and a rotational lift with ease. However, Virtue wobbled at the end of the twizzles sequence.

The 2014 Olympic silver medalists earned a level four for the side by side footwork, rhumba pattern and step sequence, as well as for the rotational lift, and a level three for the twizzles, helping them to a score of 80.92 points.

“We had a quick week 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.”

Hubbell/Donohue’s samba and rhumba was highlighted by excellent twizzles, a curve lift and level-four rhumba pattern. The Skate Canada bronze medalists posted a new season’s best with 76.31 points.

“Zach and I also competed at Skate Canada,” Hubbell said. "As we finished that event and set our sights on NHK, we really wanted to take it as another opportunity to practise the long travel that we sometimes have. It took us a few days of practice to find our legs. It was a good test run. 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."

Dancing to cha cha and samba, Cappellini/Lanotte produced three level-four elements and two level-three elements to also score a season’s best with 75.87 points.

“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. We had a little hiccup at the beginning of the season with me getting 15 stitches in the hand, which slowed us down a bit, but we believe we can catch up.”

Victoria Sinitsina/Nikita Katsalapov (RUS) are ranked fourth on 72.49 points. Penny Coomes/Nicholas Buckland (GBR) finished fifth (65.64 points) ahead of Laurence Fournier Beaudry/Nikolaj Sorensen (DEN), who have 63.34 points.

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.