First Day of Competition Concludes at NHK Trophy

(11/9/18) - Reigning U.S. champions Alexa Scimeca-Knierim and Chris Knierim are in medal contention after the first day of competition at NHK Trophy in Hiroshima, Japan.

The couple is in fourth place and leads the U.S. pairs contingent with 64.75 points after the short program. They trail Canada’s Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro by less than three points. Skating to “Castle” by Halsey, Scimeca-Knierim and Knierim overcame an early fall on their side-by-side triple Salchows to earn three Level 4 elements for their Group 4 lift, step sequence and death spiral. The segment score was a new season’s best for the Olympic Team Event bronze medalists.

2018 Four Continents champions Tarah Kayne and Danny O’Shea debuted a new short program to “Turning Page” by Sleeping At Last, scoring 59.00 points at the event. With six out of seven elements receiving positive Grades of Execution (GOE), the Colorado-based pair are in fifth place. Audrey Lu and Misha Mitrofanov, the 2018 U.S. junior champions, are currently in seventh place (52.35) in their Grand Prix debut.

Russians Natalia Zabiiako and Alexander Enbert are in the lead, with China’s Cheng Peng and Yang Jin in second heading into the pairs free skate.

In the ladies competition, Mariah Bell opened her Celine Dion short program with a solid double Axel. The 2017 U.S. bronze medalist, who trains in Lakewood, California, scored 62.97 to place seventh after errors on her triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination. Angela Wang had a redemptive performance after a disappointing outing at the Helsinki Grand Prix of Figure Skating last week. She received positive GOEs on all elements but one in her short program, choreographed by Michelle Kwan and Karen Kwan-Oppegard, and sits in eighth place with 60.82 points. Courtney Hicks scored 59.10 and is in 10th place.

Elizaveta Tuktamysheva of Russia leads by .09 points over Japan’s Satoko Miyahara. Mai Mihara, also of Japan, rounds out the top three.

Vincent Zhou is in fifth place with 75.90 points in the men’s short program. He ended his emotional performance to “Exogenesis Symphony Part III” by Muse with a Level 4 change foot combination spin. In his Grand Prix debut, Alexander Johnson tallied 72.03 points for his performance to Jamie Cullum’s cover of “Don’t Stop the Music” by Rihanna and is currently in eighth place.

Olympic silver medalist Shoma Uno is in the lead in his home country with two Russians, Sergei Voronov and Dmitri Aliev, in second and third, respectively.

Competition continues tomorrow with the rhythm dance, and the men’s, ladies and pairs free skates.

For more news and results from 2018 NHK Trophy, please visit the U.S. Figure Skating Fan Zone. The competition can be streamed on the Figure Skating Pass on NBC Sports Gold.