Japan's Suzuki beats Asada for women's title

Japan's Akiko Suzuki won the NHK Trophy on Saturday, holding off compatriot Mao Asada in the free skate to claim her first grand prix title in two seasons.

Seals 1-2 finish for host country

Akiko Suzuki peforms her free skate programin front of hometown fans at the NHK Trophy event Friday in Sapporo, Japan. (Toru Yamanaka/AFP/Getty Images)

Japan's Akiko Suzuki won the NHK Trophy on Saturday, holding off compatriot Mao Asada in the free skate to claim her first grand prix title in two seasons.

Suzuki, who held an eight-point lead over Asada after the short program, made several mistakes in the final but scored 119.43 points for a total of 185.98, just 1.79 points ahead of Asada.

"I'm very happy to have won my first NHK Trophy but I'm not at all satisfied with my free skate," Suzuki said. "I will reflect on my mistakes and try to improve them."

Russian skater Alena Leonova was third with 170.68 points. Ashley Wagner of the United States finished fourth with 165.55 points.

As she did in the short program, Asada's failure to hit a triple axel on her opening element cost her valuable points. She tried the triple again Saturday but only managed a double.

"I cleared my own goals, except for the triple axel," said Asada. "I skated my other elements well. I'm not yet at the level I want to be. I can level up."

Suzuki, skating to "Die Fledermaus" did a single lutz instead of a planned triple lutz later in her routine and singled a triple loop but her lead from the short program was big enough to secure the win.

It was Suzuki's first victory at the senior grand prix series since the 2009 Cup of China. Her victory here, coupled with a second-place finish as Skate Canada, qualified her for the Dec. 8-11 Grand Final in Quebec City, Canada.

The Nov. 11-13 NHK Trophy is the fourth event of the 2011 International Skating Union's Grand Prix series.

In the men's short program, Vancouver bronze medallist Daisuke Takahashi of Japan finished first, hitting all his jumps to score a personal-best 90.43 points. Takahiko Kozuka, also of Japan, was second with 79.77 points.

Brandon Mroz of the United States, who placed third with 74.83 points, made skating history by becoming the first skater to land a quadruple lutz in international competition.

The 20-year-old Mroz hit the quadruple lutz on his opening jump.

"I'm excited to get it done in an international competition," Mroz said. "Getting another jump done is awesome for generations of skaters to come."

Mroz previously made the quadruple lutz on Sept. 16 at the Colorado Spring Invitational, a U.S Figure Skating sanctioned event.

In the pairs final, Yuko Kawaguchi and Alexander Smirnov of Russia won the gold medal after receiving 122.49 points in the free skate. The Russian pair were fifth after the short program but impressed the judges with near-flawless performance to finish with 177.51 points.

Narumi Takahashi and Mervin Tran of Japan were second with 172.09 points while world champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany finished third with 171.68 points.

Broadcast Partners