Japan's Oda, Asada take NHK Trophy
AFP - 2 hours 48 minutes ago
TOKYO (AFP) - - Japan's Nobunari Oda managed to clinch the NHK Trophy Sunday by showing off combination leaps and nearly nailing a quadruple jump in his free programme, despite several wobbles.
Among the women, reigning world queen Mao Asada led the Japanese trio sweep of the podium and won a ticket to the Grand Prix Final.
Oda charmed the crowd packing the National Yoyogi Stadium with light yet stable steps and fast spins between succession of high, rotating leaps.
But he tilted his head immediately after his performance to "Warsaw Concerto" by Richard Addinsell, and later admitted he thought he had lost to American rival Johnny Weir, who came in second and advanced to the Grand Prix Final by putting on a strong performance despite suffering from a serious cold.
Oda, the 2005 NHK Trophy winner, collected 236.18 points with his free and short programmes, followed by Weir with 224.42 points and Yannick Ponsero of France with 217.24 points.
It was the college student's first major international competition before home fans after spending last season suspended for a drunk driving scandal that made national headlines.
"I was disappointed at my performance. I failed some jumps and did not think I would receive a good score and thought I lost," Oda said.
"But unexpectedly I received lots of points and I was happy to win," he added.
Weir, who coughed throughout his free programme, put on a confident and clean performance and said he was content with second place considering his condition.
"I have been so sick all weekend. I was so nervous to go on the ice and not know if I would be able to breathe from the beginning and until the end of the programme. I am very happy that I ended on the podium," he said.
Weir, who enjoys a solid Japanese fan base, said he would stay in Japan to train for the elite Grand Prix Final to be held next month in South Korea.
Meanwhile, Asada, 18, triumphed among the women with 191.13 points, followed by compatriot Akiko Suzuki with 167.64, while Yukari Nakano, who also is going to the final in December in South Korea, came in third with 166.87.
In the pairs, Chinese veterans Pang Qing and Tong Jian won the event also on Saturday and advanced to the final.
They were followed by American pair John Baldwin and Rena Inoue, while the third place went to Canadians Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison.
In ice dancing, Italian duo Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali took the trophy and were followed by second placed French couple Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat while American ice dancers Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates came in third.
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