Kaori Sakamoto continued to dazzle the Osaka crowd on day two of the NHK Trophy ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating, as the 20-year-old claimed her first career Grand Prix victory in Japan. Sakamoto was the only skater out of the 12 competing to receive a program component score above 70, as she nailed a flawless triple flip-triple toeloop combination and triple loop in her performance to give her an overall total of 229.51 points. Not a single jumping element was marked down during her time on the ice, as the Kobe skater received a standing ovation from the crowd as she finished. "I was so nervous I could only think about the choreography," she said afterwards. ”The best thing today was that everything went like it did in practice.” "If I didn't drop a few points in the short program on my spins and steps I could have topped 230 (points). "I was nervous throughout the entire skate, down to the final spin. I found out today that I perform better when I'm nervous.” Wakaba Higuchi finished second in the women’s event with 200.98 points despite struggling with her jumps, while Matsuike Rino rounded off the podium in third. In the men’s event, Yuma Kagiyama took gold after a sublime display in which he landed two triple axels and three quadruple jumps cleanly to win the title. The Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games champion racked up a score of 188.61 points for his performance, outscoring second-placed skater Miura Kao by some 45 points. The 17-year-old landed a salchow, followed by a toeloop and landed a clean quad toe later in his skate with Kazuki Tomono claiming second, and Lucas Honda winning bronze. In the ice dance free dance, the husband and wife pairing of Misato Komatsubara and Tim Koleto took the top prize to claim their first Grand Prix win. The duo finished the competition on 179.05 points, a whopping 21 points ahead of Rikako Fukase and Eichu Cho in second, despite being deducted points for an error on their final performance. There was despair for ice dance debutants Kana Muramoto and Daisuke Takahashi, with the latter making the move from the men’s singles event to the paired competition. The Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic bronze medalist made a crucial error on the second set of twizzles, tripping over and having to put his hands on the ice to regain balance, seeing them lose a raft of points in the process. Takahashi said: "In training, I don't usually trip up the way I did but things happen in a live competition. You have to have control of your emotions in situations like that.”

Sportsbeat 2020

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