NHK Trophy Concludes, United States Earns Two More Entries to Grand Prix Final

(11/11/19) – NHK Trophy, the sixth stop of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series, concluded Saturday in Sapporo, Japan. With the results in Sapporo, the United States will now have four total entries in the Grand Prix Final, set for Dec. 5-8 in Torino, Italy.

Based on the results in Sapporo, Bradie Tennell has qualified to compete in the ladies event, and Madison Chock and Evan Bates will return to the Final in the ice dance event. It will be Tennell’s first career appearance at the event while Chock and Bates will be making their fifth appearance. Reigning World Champion Nathan Chen, as well as ice dancers Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue clinched their Grand Prix Final spots earlier this fall.

It will mark the first time since 2016 that the United States has had an entry in the ladies competition. Chen will be looking for this third straight Grand Prix Final title and Hubbell and Donohue will be seeking their second straight title. Chock and Bates earned the silver medal at the Grand Prix Final in 2014 and 2015.

Alysa Liu and the ice dance tandem of Avonley Nguyen and Vadym Kolesnik will represent the United States in the Junior Grand Prix Final, which will run concurrently to the Grand Prix Final in December. 

In Sapporo, Jason Brown recovered from a tough short program to finish fourth in the free skate with 157.54 points and fifth overall with 231.27 points. Teammate Tomoki Hiwatashi earned 142.76 points in Saturday’s skate for 207.30 total points and a 10th place finish.

Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu won the event and was followed by Kevin Aymoz of France and Roman Sadovsky of Canada.

In the ladies field, Starr Andrews, who scored 107.80 points on Saturday, was the top finishing American lady with 166.72 total points in eighth place. Karen Chen finished just behind in ninth place with 165.70 points. The Cornell freshman was third after the short program, but had a tough free skate, earning 98.49 points. Megan Wessenberg finished 12th with 131.73 total points.

Russia’s Alena Kostornaia won the gold medal in the event, followed by Japan’s Rika Kihira and fellow countrywoman Alina Zagitova.

In pairs, the United States’ duo of Tarah Kayne and Danny O’Shea and tandem of Alexa and Chris Knierim finished sixth and seventh, respectively. Kayne and O’Shea, who scored 120.03 on Saturday, finished with 178.73 total points. The Knierims scored 173.33 total points behind a 109.70-point free skate.

China’s Wenjing Sui and Cong Han of China won the event. Canada’s Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro of Canada finished second, followed by Russia’s Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Gallimov.

In ice dance, Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko, who were competing in their fourth career Grand Prix event, finished sixth with 182.26 total points. Lorraine McNamara and Quinn Carpenter finished ninth with 170.21 points. The duo was competing in their first Grand Prix event of the season, after having to withdraw from Internationaux de France due to injury.

Fans can watch the entire event live, commercial-free and on-demand with the Figure Skating Pass on NBC Sports Gold. Fans can also watch NBC’s recap show on Sunday, Nov. 24 from 4-6 p.m. ET.

The Grand Prix Series, now in its 25th season, consists of six international events in a cumulative point-scoring format. Approximately 300 athletes from 30 countries are expected to participate in the series. Each athlete is eligible to score points in up to two of the six scheduled events. The top six point-earners in each discipline qualify for the 2019 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final.