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2022 NHK Trophy

Sapporo, Japan

by Klaus-Reinhold Kany

Results Details



(21 November 2022) NHK Trophy is named after the Japanese TV channel which has sponsored the Japanese skating Grand Prix for many years. This year, like in 2011, 2016 and 2019 and several times before, it took place in Sapporo, a city of almost two million people in Northern Japan. The ice rink is named Makumanai Sekisui Heim Ice Arena Sapporo and was the rink of the Olympic Winter Games of 1972, and has around 10,000 seats.


The women’s competition at the NHK Trophy 2022 in Sapporo had a good level. 19-year-old Yelim Kim from South Korea, who had been ninth at the Olympic Games nine months ago, won in her fifth Grand Prix her first gold medal, this time with 204.49 points. At the Grand Prix de France she had been second, therefore she qualified for the Grand Prix Final. In Sapporo, she beat the reigning Japanese World Champion Kaori Sakamoto. The skater from Seoul had already taken the lead in the short program, performing a clean program to the music “Mercy” by Max Richter with seven very good elements, among them a combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop, a triple flip and three level 4 spins. GOEs of +3 dominated for all elements and her components had an average of 8.3. She commented, “I am so happy for a clean program today. In France I lost some points in the spin and step sequences and I’ve trained not to lose levels. Maybe I worked on my mental focus just to do what I train.”

Her first element in the free program to the soundtrack of “Summer of 42” and to “Summer Arabesque” by Karl Hugo was her short program combination, again in very good quality. Three good other triples came later, plus a triple flip with a touch down which got a q and she went down on the second triple flip. Two good double Axels, very good spins and step combinations completed her program. Her components were around 8.3. This was only the second best free program, but it was enough to keep her first place. She said, “I can’t believe I just won an ISU Grand Prix event. I think I’m going to cry. I tried to imagine my last training skating; not to think about anything special. The second flip was planned in a sequence with the double Axel and so I did the double Axel with the triple Salchow like I do in practice.”

World Champion Kaori Sakamoto from Japan had won Skate America and therefore is also qualified for the Grand Prix Final although she won only silver in Sapporo with 201.87 points. In her short program, she was four points behind Kim. Skating to “Rock With You”  and to “Feedback”, both by Janet Jackson, she began with a lot of speed and performed an outstanding double Axel, followed by a triple Lutz for which she had to fight to land it cleanly and it got a small edge warning. Therefore the GOEs for this jumps were mostly -1. Her spins were excellent and her step sequence fast and outstanding. On her jump combination the triple flip got a q and the triple toe loop was under-rotated and not cleanly landed. This element had mainly GOEs of -5 although she did not fall. She explained, “Today’s performance was not something that I expected, All my jumps were unsatisfactory. Of course, this is one of the major events in Japan and this makes me nervous. In Japan there are still restrictions in place – you cannot cheer loudly. Nationals is the one I am really nervous at and the NHK Trophy is almost the same.”

Sakamoto was first in the free program with a distance of 1.53 points to Kim, but this was not enough to win gold overall. After a stellar double Axel with a lot of speed on the landing, which had three GOEs of +5, her triple Lutz got a small edge warning again. Three more triple jumps were excellent, one of them in the combination of double Axel, triple toe loop and double toe loop. But both jumps of her triple flip, triple toe loop combination were shaky and got a q for a small under-rotation. All this would have been enough to win, but at the end she made a big mistake and singled the triple loop which cost her seven or eight points and kept her on second place. She said, “I feel that I'm still far away from last year’s condition. I popped the very last jump but overall I did everything I could at this moment this season. I had to overcome a cold after Skate America. Inside myself there were an angel and a devil fighting each other. I want to overcome the devil. It tells me, ‘You gave your best last year, this season you can relax.’”

The second Japanese skater Rion Sumiyoshi won the bronze medal with 193.12 points after being third at the Grand Prix in France. Therefore she has to wait and see the result of the last Grand Prix in Finland before she knows if she has qualified for the Final. She began her romantic short program to “White Flowers Take Their Bath” with a good double Axel, followed by a combination of triple flip and triple toe loop, the second of which got a q. Her triple Lutz was good, her spins and step sequence excellent and she skated with deep edges, soft knees and beautiful transitions. She explained, “In the short program in France I nailed the first two jumps, but then my focus was lost and I made mistakes on the spins and the third jump. This time I made sure to stay focused, I did my jumps and spins. This was my major improvement.”

In her free program to “Enchantress” by the U.S. music company “Two Steps from Hell”, she was the only woman to try a quad (toe loop), but she landed it forward. Therefore it was downgraded and she fell. Five very good triples followed, but she made a three-turn on her sixth triple, which was a flip and went down again on a downgraded triple Salchow. Spins and steps were very good and her components around 7.9. She said, “Considering that this is my first senior Grand Prix and I got third place in both competitions, I am happy. However, regarding my performance today, there were so many regrettable points.”

U.S. skater Audrey Shin of Colorado Springs had been fourth at Junior Worlds in April. In Sapporo, she finished on fourth place again, earning 189.00 points. She began her short program to the tango “Maria de Buenos Aires” with a combination of two triple toe loops, but the second one got a q and therefore had mainly GOEs of -1. Her double Axel and her triple loop were very good, her spins and steps excellent and her components around 7.8. The student of Tammy Gambill commented, “I am so excited to have this opportunity to skate in front of the crowd. It was a dream of mine since I was little. I knew my jumps weren’t very best today, so I am okay with the scores.” In her free program to three music pieces of U.S. singer Michael W. Smith, she performed four clean triple jumps, but two others were under-rotated and she popped the flip. She explained, “I am very relieved because I felt some pressure yesterday to keep that top 4 position and I am very happy I did that. I am glad I could get the mistake at the beginning out of my mind and went through it. The combination with two triple toe loops in the second half was a last minute decision. I thought I was going to try.”

Rinka Watanabe from Japan, who had won Skate Canada three weeks ago,  landed on fifth position with 188.07 points. She had trained in Vancouver for years, but went back to Japan when the pandemic began in 2020. In the short program she was only ninth after falling on a shaky and under-rotated triple Axel and after popping the triple loop. With the third best free program, she could move up four spots. She landed the triple Axel with a three-turn and four more good triple jumps, but landed a triple flip on two feet and singled a Lutz. Seyeon Ji from South Korea trains in Colorado Springs and came sixth with 184.14 points. Her short program was almost flawless with a good combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop. She performed seven clean triples in her free program, but her spins were not very impressive and her components were lower in both programs.

Niina Petrokina from Estonia is ranked seventh with 180.29 points. In the short program, the triple flip was clean, but she went down on the downgraded triple toe loop after the triple Lutz. Four triple jumps in her free program were good, but she touched down on a triple Salchow and the second triple Lutz was a bit under-rotated. Later she explained, “I am so tired now, but happy I made it through my program well. The public was amazing and helped me a lot.” The third South Korean skater Seoyeong Wi came eighth, earning 176.74 points. Her double Axel and her triple loop in the short were very good, but both jumps in her combination of triple Lutz and triple toe loop got a q. In the free program, she fell on the triple loop and four other jumps were not rotated correctly.

Californian skater Starr Andrews, who had won the silver medal at Skate Canada,  landed on ninth place with 174.06 points. She was fifth in the clean short program with a combination of two triple toe loops and very good spins and steps. But she dropped four spots after being only 12th in the free program. She performed only two clean triple jumps, fell on the triple loop, popped a flip and under-rotated four other jumps. Olga Mikutina from Austria finished on tenth position with 173.36 points. In her short program, two jumps got a q and she went down on the under-rotated triple Lutz half a second after thinking she has landed it correctly. In her free program, three triples were good, but the loop was shaky, the Lutz under-rotated and she doubled two jumps which were planned triple. She said, “The full stadium and all the clapping makes me feel like I am at Worlds.”

Amber Glenn of Colorado Springs is 11th with 169.36 points after being third at Skate America. In the short program, she stepped out of the triple flip and fell on the triple loop. Her double Axel was very good. In the free program, the eighth best of the competition, her triple Axel was landed on two feet, four other triples were good, but three more jumps not correctly landed. Eva-Lotta Kiibus from Estonia ended up on 12th place with 162.37 points. She popped the Lutz in the short program and performed only a shaky combination of triple toe loop and double toe loop. In the free program, three triples were good, but three others under-rotated.

Ice Dance

The ice dance competition of the NHK Trophy had a very good level and ended with a surprise at the top. The favorites Madison Chock & Evan Bates, fourth at the Olympic Games and third at Worlds 2022, did not win, but were second. Instead, the Canadian team of Laurence Fournier Beaudry & Nikolaj Soerensen, who had been ninth at these two events and had competed for his native Denmark until 2018, won the gold medal in a tight decision with 210.41 points. This is their first gold medal in their eleventh Grand Prix after winning silver in France two weeks before.

Dancing to three songs by Gloria Estefan, the students of the Ice Academy of Montreal took the lead in the Rhythm Dance with .66 points because they had the higher levels. The stationary lift, the twizzles and the pattern dance type step sequence had a level 4, the Midline Step Sequence a level 3. All five elements were excellent, GOEs of +3 and +4 dominated and their components were around 9.1. Soerensen commented, “I was surprised. I walked out and saw our name on top and I couldn’t really believe it. But we've set really high goals for this year and worked really hard to realize those goals. We came out after the Olympics to recalibrate the way we train, the way we think, really do everything for the purpose. So we're just really happy that we were able to go out there and then it bears fruit with the first place here today.”

In their emotional and passionate free dance with eight different music pieces, which may be called “Mexican Flamenco”, the Canadians kept the lead with a difference of only .62 points and also won the free dance although their combination lift was longer than 12 seconds and one point was deducted. Once again all elements were outstanding, the choreographic steps near the end even had three GOEs of +5 and the components had an average of 9.3. Fournier Beaudry said, “It is a dream come true and something we have worked for for a very long time.” Soerensen added, “There are a lot of emotions and a lot of thoughts. We were just extremely proud of being able to deliver these two performances that brought us to the top of the podium today. Thinking back, it’s been a long journey and I wish that I just could tell everybody that starts somewhere that you can make it anywhere you want to go if you commit properly.”

Madison Chock & Evan Bates, training mates of the gold medalists in Montreal, won silver with 209.13 points. Dancing and entertaining to two Sambas and a Rhumba of “Let’s Dance” by David Bowie, they had two elements with level 4 and the pattern dance type step sequence with a level 3, like the Canadians, but she had only level 1 on the midline step sequence and he had level 3. GOEs of +3 and +4 dominated on all five elements and the components were around 9.2. Chock admitted, “A level one on my midline step, two small errors, but obvious nonetheless and that's costly in any competition. We’ll just be looking to clean that up and continue pushing our performance because we had a great time out there and the audience was fantastic.” Bates added, “We are really happy with this David Bowie Remix. We actually changed it a bit from Skate America, so this current version that we just skate is really up tempo, I felt like the audience was clapping almost immediately through the whole program. It’s true we had a little late start into the season, we had some great touring which was a good way to round up the Olympic season. Jumping back into training was a little quick, but we love competing.”

In their free dance to “Souffrance” by the French band Orange Blossom and to “Les Tectoniques” by Quebec singer Jorane, most elements were excellent, the twizzles good and she had only a level 3 for this element. Their components had an average of 9.2. Chock explained the concept, “We've made some big renovations on both programs and we are very pleased with how we were able to perform this week. We’ve done some evolving of our concept and our character since Skate America. It's about the relationship of the spirit of fire and spirit of air and how one cannot survive without each other. They have the ability to rebuild, devour and produce life to each other and things around them. We wanted to express that relationship. It's something we have connected with and are excited to keep exploring.” Bates added, “Our goal remains the same, We want to win Worlds this year. It’s never a linear line to the top. This season is just a new territory for everyone. Competition will be tough and we just have to be the best.” Both top dance teams are qualified for the Final.

Caroline Green and Michael Parsons from the new dance school in Canton, Michigan, won the bronze medal with 191.10 points after being fourth at Skate Canada. In their Rhythm Dance in Sapporo to two Sambas and one Rhumba, all elements were at least good, the twizzles even excellent, the levels were mixed and their components around 8.4. Parson said. “We're very proud of how we skated, This season for us has been about our constant improvement and the last two weeks we've been really happy with how we’ve trained after Skate Canada and it's cumulated into this Rhythm Dance today.” In their free dance to George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”, GOEs of +3 dominated for all ten elements. Five of them had a level 4, but the two step sequences 1 and 2. The components were around 8.5. They were fourth in the free dance, but remained in third position overall. “Caroline and I are very happy with how we skated here,” Parsons explained. “Of course we know we can be a lot better in terms of execution and our general score so we have a lot to work on, but that's been the theme of our season.”

Allison Reed & Saulius Ambrulevicius from Lithuania, who train in Montreal, finished on fourth position, earning 189.98 points. Japan is special for her because her mother is Japanese and her sister coaches in Japan. In the Rhythm Dance to Mambo, Rhumba and Samba by the Swiss music duo Yello, they had good levels, GOEs of mainly +2 and +3 and components of around 8.3. They had the third best free dance, but remained on fourth position. In this free dance to a Techno medley, all elements were very good, the GOEs had mainly +3 and the components were around 8.4.

Evgeniia Lopareva & Geoffrey Brissaud from France placed fifth with 184.63 points after being third in France. Four elements in the Rhythm Dance to a Rhumba and a Samba were very good, the twizzles good. In their free dance to two songs of French singer Edith Piaf, the levels were relatively high, all elements were very good and the components around 8.2. Brissaud said, “We take from this competition how to skate under different conditions, with the time difference, but it’s a good experience. We also aren’t used to skate last in the group. It was not perfect today, but we fought.”

Kana Muramoto & Daisuke Takahashi were the better of the two Japanese couples, coming sixth with 178.78 points. Takahashi is 36 years old and the single skating World Champion of 2010. He finished his career in 2014 and came back as an ice dancer in 2018. He skates much more flexible now than one or two years ago. Dancing to Salsa, Rhumba and Samba in the Rhythm Dance, the students of Marina Zueva performed five good elements and had components of 8.0. In their free dance to Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera”, his twizzles were a bit shaky, all other elements good. Takahashi said, “Competition is the best practice, as our coach told us. You learn when to be aggressive and when to save energy, so the previous competition helped.”

Shiyue Wang & Xinyu Liu from China, who had been 12th at the Olympic Games in their home country, train in Montreal when they are allowed to leave China, otherwise often online with their Montreal coaches. They are seventh with 174.11 points. They danced to a Cha Cha and two Sambas in the Rhythm Dance. Twizzles and lift were excellent, the other elements good. In the free dance, their twizzles were not ideal, but all other elements at least good. Their components had an average of 7.7. Yuka Orihara & Juho Pirinen from Finland finished on eighth place with 168.45 points. In the Rhythm Dance, their twizzles were a bit shaky, the other elements good. In their free dance to “My Jolly Sailor Bold”, Yuka is a siren who tries to seduce him, then kills him. All elements had positive GOEs. After their free dance, they were overwhelmed because they received the very first standing ovation in their life because Orihara is Japanese.

Misato Komatsubara & her husband Tim Koleto from Japan are ninth with 164.30 points. They mainly train in Montreal. Their elements in both programs were good, but two lifts in the free program were a bit too long and got a deduction. They were a bit slower than last year. Their music in the free dance is from the soundtrack of “The Fifth Element”. He said, “It’s always special to skate in Japan. It’s great to have our two Grand Prix in Canada and Japan as we feel at home in both countries. In Japan everyone is wearing masks and not screaming, but they were clapping very loud and that gave us confidence.” The U.S. team Katarina Wolfkostin & Jeffrey Chen from the new dance school in Canton, Michigan ended up tenth and last with 148.10 points. In their free program they used music from the British band “Florence and the Machine”. In the Rhythm Dance, they had only level 1 in both step sequences, but performed well. In the free dance, she used her second foot in the second part of the twizzle sequence and he fell on the last rotational lift when he skated on one foot – the only serious mistakes in the whole ice dance competition.


The pairs competition had a higher level than the early Grand Prix because not only one or top two teams were good or excellent. Most other teams skated better than at their first Grand Prix or earlier in the season. Therefore in Sapporo the general level was relatively good. There were only six pairs competing because two others withdrew and could not be replaced any more because of the lack of pairs worldwide. Russian pairs are still excluded, Chinese pairs are not allowed to come due to Covid 19 and six good North American pairs had finished their career after the end of last season.

To the delight of the big majority of the spectators, all of whom had to wear face masks, Riku Miura (20) & Ryuichi Kihara (30) from Japan celebrated a run-away victory with 216.16 points and got standing ovations after each of their two strong performances. They had been seventh of the Olympic Games nine months ago, second at Worlds 2022 and won Skate Canada 2022 in late October. The pair trains in Oakville, Ontario, situated one hour southwest of Toronto, mainly with renowned Canadian coach Bruno Marcotte. He had already suggested them to compete together while holding a pair skating seminar for the Japanese federation in springtime 2019. In early summer 2022 Miura dislocated her shoulder and they could not fully train for two and a half months. But this injury did not affect her any more, on the contrary, she looked more confident then ever.

Their short program music pieces are “You’ll Never Walk Alone” by several arrangers and to “Sweet Hope Walk” by Canadian music arranger Karl Hugo. They opened their program with an elegant triple twist, though only level 2. The side by side triple toe loop was excellent, the triple throw Lutz as well and exactly to the beat of the music. Like all other level elements it had level 4. The difficult backwards Axel lift was outstanding. Their components had an average of 8.7 and they had a new personal best of 78.25 points in the short. During their step sequence you could see and feel joy on their faces. Kihara said, “Since Skate Canada we worked with our coach to make sure we get our levels, and we are happy we got to do that. After Skate Canada we were able to do really good training and had absolutely no worries coming here and this naturally came out in our performance today.”

They opened their free program to “Atlas, Two” by the U.S. project “Sleeping At Last” and to “Shared Tenderness” by Karl Hugo with a good triple twist, followed by a combination of triple toe loop and two double toe loops. It was correctly executed, but a bit out of sync. The three lifts were outstanding, her triple Salchow under-rotated, the triple throw loop and all other elements excellent. She only touched down on the triple throw Lutz, She laughed and shook her hands, knowing the program was still good enough for gold. Their components were around 8.7 because of the unique connection between them, which was underlined especially because of their extroverted character.

Miura explained, “More than skating perfectly we want to show our personalities and smile. We were able to completely finish the performance within the allocated time and felt good about that. After the throws jumps, we made a mistake in the choreographic lift for the first time and my reaction was like ‘oh, oh, I made a mistake’. We actually made many small mistakes – despite that, we got a personal best in the total score and we are very happy about that.” Kihara added, ”We had won a spot at the Grand Prix Final last year. But because of the Omicron variation of Covid-19 it was cancelled, and we were very disappointed. We are very happy to go now and we found a lot of things that we will look to improve on. I think one thing I will mention is that we are very similar as skaters. We don’t force ourselves too much. We both like speed on the ice. On a personal level we are very balanced and we compliment each other well.”

Emily Chan & Spencer Akiro Howe of Norwood near Boston won the silver medal with a personal best of 187.49 points after being also second at Skate Canada. With the results of the NHK Trophy being fixed, they know they are also qualified for this year’s Final in Turin in early December. Howe likes especially skating in Japan as his mother is Japanese, “It’s cool to be able to come here and feel a little bit more connected in that sense. I’m able to embrace that culture when I’m here.” In their short program to “Nyah” by CH2 and Hans Zimmer, their triple twist was nice. Chan landed the triple throw loop on two feet and went down on the triple toe loop. The four other elements, all with level 4, were very good and their components around 7.5. Chan admitted, “We had some technical errors in the jumping, but besides that, we got out there and had great energy and enjoyed performing in front of the Japanese crowd.”

They began their free program to two versions of “Unchained Melody”, one from the musical “Ghost”, exceptionally not with the triple twist, like all other pairs did, but with a good jump combination of double Salchow and two double Axels, followed by a toe loop which she doubled and he tripled. The triple twist was a bit wobbly and she landed the triple throw loop on two feet. Two lifts, the other triple throw and the other elements were impressive, the third lift good and their three components around 7.7. Chan explained, “We were coming into the Free Skate with the goal of giving all our love and going for everything. We are very happy to have a new personal best. We are very grateful that we can go to the Grand Prix Final in our first year on the Grand Prix circuit. We hope to take the short time to improve our technical (elements) and fix the small technical errors so that we can increase our score.”

Brooke McIntosh & Benjamin Mimar of Toronto took bronze with 175.65 points. The Canadian students of Dmitri Savin had also won a bronze medal at Junior Worlds six months ago and were fourth at Skate Canada three weeks ago. In the short program to “Release” by U.S. musician Jennifer Thomas, their twist and their triple toe loop were good, the landing of the triple throw loop a bit rough and the reverse lasso lift good. Thhe other three elements were lean and the components around 6.7. McIntosh commented, “It was lot of fun skating in front of the Japanese crowd. Even with the small mistake we were able to get a personal best and we are excited for that.” In their free program to the musical “Les Miserables” by Claude-Michel Schoenberg, most elements were good, the three lifts even very good, she only fell hard on the triple throw loop. Mimar explained, “We are very happy about our first Grand Prix medal, and I am proud of my partner. Even with the fall she fought to the end.” McIntosh confirmed that she was checked by the doctor and was okay.

Irma Caldara & Riccardo Maglio from Torino in Italy finished on fourth position earning 164.23 points. In the short program, they skated to “Brotsjur” (breaker) by Icelandic composer Olafur Arnalds and to “Iron” by French composer Woodkid. Their twist was good, most other elements OK, but the triple throw loop deeply landed. For the free program they used the music “Don’t Be So Serious” by the Californian Band Low Roar and to “BB’s Theme” by British singer Jenni Plant. They made no big mistakes, but several small ones, like being far apart on the double Axel and shaky landing on the two throws.

Camille & Pavel Kovalev from France came fifth with 162.01 points. They were still solid, but did not skate as clean as in Angers where they had won a silver medal. In the short program in Sapporo, she stepped out of the triple throw Salchow and the other elements had less plus points than in France. In the free program, most elements were good again, but her second toe loop in the jump combination was only single and she touched down on the triple throw flip. She said it was difficult for them especially with the jetlag. They had never performed so early in the morning. The Grand Prix Final was in their mind. They were sad after the short program, but less after the free.

Daria Danilova & Michel Tsiba from the Netherlands had been surprising ninth at Worlds 2022. They were invited to Skate America, but Danilova, who is a Russian citizen, did not get a visa for the USA. For Japan, a visa for her was no problem, therefore they came to Sapporo as alternates for the Australian pair of Maria Chernyshova & Harley Windsor who had finished their career in springtime, but announced it much later. The Dutch pair ended up on sixth position with 155.84 points in the first Grand Prix of their career. In their short program to “The Hunger Games”, their twist was a bit shaky, Tsiba fell on the triple Salchow and Danilova touched down on the triple throw flip. The other elements were o.k. In their free program, they made four mistakes, including a fall on the triple throw flip. Two pairs were missing and could not be replaced, The Czech team of Jelizaveta Zukova & Martin Bidar withdrew because Zukova’s mother had died one week before and she had to go home. The German pair of Annika Hocke & Robert Kunkel cancelled their participation because Hocke had been tested positive with Covid 19 some days before.


The level of the men’s competition at the NHK Trophy 2022 in Sapporo was better than at the first two or three Grand Prix, but there were still many mistakes. Reigning world champion Shoma Uno from Japan won his home Grand Prix easily with 279.76 points. The Olympic Bronze medalist opened his short program to the music “Gravity” by U.S. singer John Mayer with an excellent quad flip, but went down on the quad toe loop which was a bit over-rotated. Therefore he had no combination and was second in the short program, five points behind the winner. His triple Axel was very good, his three level 4 spins and his step sequence outstanding and his components had an average of 8.9. He explained, “There was one mistake. Compared to my short program at Skate Canada I did a good job. I am very aware that this competition has some weight and I hope to make it to the Grand Prix Final. I believe each time I skate I identify what the challenges are and I hope to have a finished product at the end of the season.”

In the free program to Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Air on a G string” and other Christian music pieces, the student of Swiss coach Stéphane Lambiel fought back and began with a very good quad loop which is still rare in the world. His quad Salchow was impressive as well. Skating in an elegant but not very fast style, the 24-year-old skater then popped the quad flip and executed it only double. He recovered quickly and performed an excellent sequence of triple Axel and double Axel, a good quad toe loop and a second quad toe loop with double toe loop which was a bit shaky. The second triple Axel was good, the spins excellent and the two step sequences outstanding. His components were around 9.0. He commented, “The Free Skating was not that great. Of course, I had to get the points with my jumps. When it comes to the transitions, there were a lot of omissions. I have to apologize to the choreographer because there were so many things I could have done, but I couldn't today. I will keep training in Japan but will go to Switzerland a few days before the Final to adjust my jetlag and my condition. In Switzerland Stéphane is there to stop me from training too much. In Champéry I do more off ice training than in Japan, for example ballet and physical training. Yesterday after the training we went out to eat something and he told me that I shouldn't try too hard to make a perfect performance. I knew that in my heart, but to hear that from a third person made me happy.”

Uno’s teammate Sota Yamamoto had taken the lead with the only clean short program to three music versions of “Yesterday”. All his seven elements were excellent, including the combination of quad toe loop and triple toe loop and the quad Salchow. His components were around 8.2. He said, “This season I have been quite consistent in my short program and today I was able to land all my jumps, so I’m happy to do that. I do not have a great record at the Grand Prix so far. Making the Grand Prix Final is a goal, but don’t want to think too much about it and just focus on what I need to do.”

But in the free program, he was not that consistent, had only the sixth best program and dropped to second place with 257.85 overall points. The quad Salchow at the beginning was very good, the two quad toe loops (the second one with a triple toe loop) good. But then he fell on the first triple Axel and once more on the second triple Axel. In his next combination, the triple toe loop after the triple flip was shaky. This toe loop did not get any points anyway because he had already repeated two other jumps and it is not allowed to repeat more than two. Another combination triple Lutz (with small edge warning), Euler and triple Salchow did not get many plus points. His spins were excellent, his step sequences good and his components around 8.2. He commented, “I was last to skate, and I had practiced that.” He reached the Grand Prix Final as well and commented, “I had the pleasure to go to the Junior Grand Prix Final together with Shoma. After that I didn’t have too great results on the senior Grand Prix. I am very happy to go to the Final this year together with Shoma.”

Junhwan Cha from South Korea won the bronze medal with 254.76 points. In the last two and a half years, he had trained in South Korea and with Brian Orser in Toronto only online. In his short program to a Michael Jackson medley, he fell on an under-rotated quad Salchow and stepped out of the triple loop which was part of his combination after the triple Lutz. The five other elements were good. With the second best free program to music of a James Bond medley, he moved up from sixth to third place. Two very good quads (Salchow and toe loop) were the first elements in his free program, four triple followed, but an under-rotated first triple Axel and a second one with a rough landing had negative GOEs. His components were around 8.4. He said, “After the very disappointing Short Program I was quite satisfied with my performance today,. It was hard, I had to work a lot today and I fought through my program.”

Kazuki Tomono from Japan, who had been third at the Grand Prix de France and sixth at Worlds, finished on fourth position with 251.83 points. In his entertaining short program to “Happy Jazz” in two versions, his combination of quad toe loop and triple toe loop had a turn between the two jumps. He went down on the under-rotated quad Salchow. His step sequence was excellent. He admitted, “Since the six minutes warm up my body felt wobbly, and I was worried whether it would work out. I need to calm down next time. Concerning the salchow, already during the warm-up I didn't feel physically stable.” He began his free program to “Die Fledermaus” (the Bat) by Johann Strauss with a very good combination of quad toe loop and triple toe loop, but popped the Salchow which was also planned quadruple. Then he went down on the second quad toe loop, but added five impressive triple jumps including two Axels. His two step sequences were outstanding because he moved exactly to the beat of the music, like an ice dancer. His components were around 8.4.

Adam Siao Him Fa from France is fifth, earning 250.45 points. In the short program to “Rain, In Your Black Eyes” by Italian composer Ezio Bosso, his combination of quad toe loop and triple toe loop was very good, but he touched down on the triple Axel and stepped out of the quad Salchow. His step sequence was very powerful, had showy moves. He explained, “My choreographer Benoit Richaud asked me while creating the program what tricks I can do in the step sequence. I tested some new things and he liked them.” In the free program to music pieces mainly by Woodkid, he dropped from third to fifth place because he stepped out of the quad toe loop and later doubled three jumps which were planned triple. Two more quads were good, spins and steps excellent.

Matteo Rizzo from Italy came sixth, earning 240.76 points. In his short program, his quad toe loop was downgraded, he almost fell and had not yet a combination. Therefore he left out the quad loop, went safe and performed a clean combination of triple flip and triple toe loop instead. The triple Axel was good, the other elements very good. In the free, his quad toe loop was quite bad again. Therefore he concentrated on his eight triples, seven of which were good. He said, “Competing in Japan is always hard for us and brings a big jetlag, I really take from this competition that I need to adjust a bit better and earlier the next time.”

Nika Egadze from Georgia placed seventh with 232.86 points. His combination of quad Salchow and triple toe loop was good, his quad toe loop as well, but he made a three-turn on the way out of the triple Axel. In the free program, two quads were good, but he fell on the second quad toe loop and made three smaller mistakes later. He did not skate with much connection to the music and dropped from fifth to seventh position. 17-year-old Stephen Gogolev from Canada finished eighth with 221.02 points. In the short program, the student of Rafael Arutunian touched down on the quad toe loop before performing a double toe loop as second part of his combination. He doubled the Salchow which was planned quadruple. The other five elements were good. His first element in the free program was a good quad toe loop, but then he popped the Salchow. Later he repeated a good quad Salchow with a double toe loop. Two good triple Axels were clean, two other triples good as well, but he touched down on the triple loop. His rotation speed is very high.

Gabriele Frangipani from Italy finished ninth with 212.31 points. He went down on the short program quad toe loop and simplified his combination to double Lutz and triple toe loop. His other elements were mainly o.k. In the free program, his opening toe loop was only triple and he almost fell, then he stepped out of the quad Salchow. Later six triples were good, including two Axels. He said, “I fought until the end. That’s a big improvement for me as I used to give up easily last season.”

Conrad Orzel from Canada is tenth with 202.69 points. He was invited as an alternate for the Chinese skater Boyang Jin who had trained in Toronto, but was injured. In the short, Orzel’s combination of quad toe loop and double toe loop was good. But he stepped out and touched down on the quad Salchow. His triple Axel had a shaky landing. He said, “I just felt the energy of the great Japanese crowd, it was amazing and I tried to embrace that.” In his free program, only four triples were more or less clean, but he stepped out of the double toe loop after the quad toe loop.

Maurizio Zandron from Austria finished 11th with 201.72 points at his very first Grand Prix at the age of 30 years. His technique in the triple jumps sometimes is not clean. He lost balance in one spin in the short program and later said there was something on the ice. His four triple jumps were soso. In the free program, four triple jumps were relatively clean, but four others more or less shaky. U.S. skater Tomoki Hiwatashi ended up 12th and last with 185.05 points after being ninth in Sheffield the week before. He missed three elements in the short program. After performing two tight quads at the beginning of his free program, he later popped four jumps.