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Asada, Takahashi, Russian pair dominate at NHK

Volosozhar, Trankov win by 54 points; Davis, White dance out to lead
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Reigning world champions Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov of Russia were heads and shoulders above the rest of the field, posting 236.49 total points to claim the gold by an astounding 54.31-point margin. -Getty Images

The NHK Trophy continued Saturday in Tokyo, with winners being determined in pairs, ladies and men's and the competing of the short dance.

Ice dance

Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the U.S. won the short dance, with Italians Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte and Americans Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani following in second and third, respectively.

Davis and White turned in a confident dance to My Fair Lady, completing fast steps and a rotational lift. They picked up a Level 4 for the second part of the Finnstsep and their rotational lift, while the step sequence, twizzles and first Finnstep sequence garnered a Level 3.

The two-time, and reigning, world champions scored 73.70 points.

"Charlie and I feel really excited about the direction our short dance is taking. We have a lot of things we want to improve before the Grand Prix Final. But I think since Skate America we've really grown into the presentation of this program, which is really what we were aiming for," Davis said.

Cappellini and Lanotte's dance to 42nd Street and "Broadway Lullaby" featured excellent twizzles (Level 4), and a Level 4 first Finnstep sequence and rotational lift.

The European bronze medalists earned 64.58 points.

"It was kind of tough start in the warm-up, when I fell unexpectedly in the Finnstep. I guess that made us a little more nervous. There were a couple of mistakes, and we left a few points on the ice, but in general we are proud of our short dance. We were able to bring a lot of fun and dance out there. It was not a perfect skate but something we can build on," Cappellini said.

Performing to songs by Michael Bublé, the Shibutanis completed Level 4 twizzles and a Level 3 Finnstep to earn a season's best with 63.09 points.

"Going into this week, our goal was to show improvement from Skate America. The performance felt really good, and our Finnstep levels got better," Maia Shibutani said at the post-event press conference.

Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov of Russia sit in fourth with 61.35 points. Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirer came in fifth (55.20).

Pairs

Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov of Russia claimed the NHK Trophy. China's Cheng Peng and Hao Zhang moved up one spot to take the silver medal, while their teammates, Wenjing Sui and Cong Han, settled for the bronze.

Volosozhar and Trankov put out a strong performance to Jesus Christ Superstar, landing side-by-side triple jumps, a throw triple loop and throw triple Salchow, and completing a triple twist. Five of their elements merited a Level 4.

The reigning world champions scored 154.46 points and racked up 236.49 points overall.

"We feel very comfortable and happy about our free skating. We skated very well today and got good points. We are very happy as this is the first time at NHK Trophy for us, and we did our job very well," Volosozhar told the press.

"I really wanted to skate well for the third time (this season) in order to feel confident. Therefore, this was an important step. It was important for us to get good scores and to skate well," Trankov added.

Peng and Zhang produced a quadruple twist, a big throw triple Salchow and difficult lifts in their program to "Yellow River Concerto," but struggled with their solo jumps. The couple collected 117.09 points and pulled up to second with 182.18 points.

"We are happy with today's result but are not 100 percent happy with the performance itself," Zhang said.

Sui and Han's program to "Kalinka" included a quadruple twist, throw triple Salchow and two Level 4 lifts, but they made several errors, including her falling from a lift.

The three-time world junior champions received 101.19 points and slipped to third.

"It was not a good competition for us. Yesterday I started having a headache and a fever. I ended up getting up at 2 a.m. and couldn't go back to bed until 5 a.m. I had to be on the 6 a.m. bus. I'm feeling very bad," Han explained.

Marissa Castellli and Simon Shnapir of the U.S. moved up from fifth to fourth, finishing with 168.89 points. They went for the throw quadruple Salchow but she stepped out of the landing. Their teammates, world junior champions Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier, dropped a spot to fifth (167.85 points).

Volosozhar and Trankov qualified for the Grand Prix Final with the maximum of 30 points.

Men's

Daisuke Takahashi of Japan skated off with the gold medal, while teammate Nobunari Oda claimed the silver and American Jeremy Abbott surged from seventh to take the bronze.

Skating to a Beatles medley, Takahashi nailed his opening quadruple toe loop, as well as a triple Axel and four more triple jumps, but he stumbled on his second triple Axel and a triple toe.

The reigning Grand Prix Final champion picked up 172.76 points, a season's best, which added up to 268.31 points overall.

"I wasn't able to perform as well as yesterday. In the free skating at Japan Open and Skate America, I wasn't able to perform very well, so I was little bit anxious. I made progress. It was not 100 percent yet, but I think it was OK," the 27-year-old said.

"It was my second Grand Prix and my third competition, and I'm thinking that I'm finally prepared going to the Olympic Games. I think I'm right at the starting line," he continued.

Oda's performance to the "William Tell Overture" by Rossini featured a quadruple toe loop, triple Axel-triple toe loop combination and six more triple jumps, as well as well-centered spins.

The Japanese skater earned 170.46 points and 253.16 overall, pulling up one spot to second.

"Yesterday in the short program, I had a lot of cheers and applause, and I didn't want to forget that. I was hoping to perform well today. I missed my first quad, but I'm happy with how I went on with my performance. I still have margin to improve for the next competition," the 26-year-old said.

Abbott landed seven triple jumps in his routine to "Exogenesis Symphony" by Muse and collected a Level 4 for all three spins and his step sequence, but he tripled his planned quad toe.

The three-time U.S. champion scored 158.63 points and jumped onto the podium with 237.41 points.

"I was very happy with my performance in the short -- just the missing piece of the quad toe -- but the rest of the elements were very strong and very good quality. Even though I was in seventh, I was very close in points to second and third place, and I knew that I could make up those points by doing a good free skate. Again today, the quad was missing, but everything else was there. I wanted to skate a solid program, which I did. I'm happy I was able to make up the points to go from seventh to the podium," the skater from Detroit said.

Adam Rippon of the U.S. finished fourth with 233.71 points. Spain's Javier Fernández dropped from second to fifth with 230.45 points, while Takahito Mura of Japan rounded up the top six (227.22 points).

Ladies

Mao Asada of Japan skated to victory in the ladies event. Russia's Elena Radionova earned the silver medal, and the bronze went to Akiko Suzuki of Japan.

Asada's program to "Piano Concerto No. 2" by Sergei Rachmaninoff was highlighted by five triple jumps and a Level 4 step sequence, but she two-footed and under-rotated her triple Axel.

Asada earned a season's best with 136.33 points and totaled 207.59 points to take the title.

"Ever since the Japan Open, I've been doing well, but I am not satisfied yet. Since Skate America, I am climbing up step by step, and I want to be at a higher level at my next event," the two-time world champion said.

Performing to music from Frida, Radionova hit seven triples, including a triple Lutz-triple toe and triple loop-single loop-triple Salchow combination. She also showed excellent spins and scored 128.98 points, a new personal best.

Overall, she racked up 191.81 points.

"I am very, very happy with today's performance, because I skated clean, and I really wanted to do that. I would like to go to the Grand Prix Final; this is a goal I set for myself this season," the 14-year-old from Moscow said.

Suzuki's program to The Phantom of the Opera included four triples, but she fell on an under-rotated Lutz and singled another Lutz.

The 2012 World bronze medalist collected 113.29 points for her free skating and slipped to third place overall.

"There were a lot of mistakes. I was quite anxious before I skated, and I wasn't able to recover. I have lots of regrets now," the 28-year-old said.

Gracie Gold of the U.S. remained in fourth place at 177.81 points. Japan's Satoko Miyahara moved up one spot to fifth (170.21 points), while Valentina Marchei of Italy came sixth (168.95 points).

Asada qualified for the Grand Prix Final with her two victories and 30 points.

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