Bazarova, Larionov win Japan GP pairs

Bazarova, Larionov win Japan GP pairs

RIFU, Japan - Agence France-Presse
Bazarova, Larionov win Japan GP pairs

Vera Bazarova (front) and Yuri Larionov of Russia perform during the pairs’ short program in the NHK Trophy, the last leg of the six-stage ISU figure skating Grand Prix series, in Rifu, northern Japan.

Russia’s Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov yesterday won the pairs title at the NHK Trophy, the season’s sixth and last figure skating Grand Prix event.

It was the first career GP title for the European championship runners-up who collected 126.41 points in the free skate for a two-day total of 192.02 points after leading Saturday’s short program.

They skated to the music of “Spartacus” by Aram Khachaturian, hitting a maximum level-four in a triple twist, a flying spin and three lifts.

Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch of Canada finished second on 180.63 points with the U.S. pair of Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir third at 174.51.

Bazarova and Larionov have finished second four times in senior Grand Prix events since 2010.

They were runners-up to fellow Russians Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov at the 2012 European championships in January and at the Cup of Russia two weeks ago.

Firs GP victory

“We are full of emotions because this is the first time that we won a Grand Prix,” said Bazarova, 19. “We made a few minor errors on the jumps and that’s something we will work on.”

She said she and Larinov were also happy as they have qualified for the Grand Prix Final to be held at the 2014 Olympic venue in Sochi in their home country.

The top six finishers in each category in the six-leg Grand Prix series have qualified for the elite finale. Each pair has been allowed to compete in just two events and the standings are based on placement with the winner receiving 15 points. Moore-Towers and Moscovitch also advanced to the GP final, which will be held in Sochi from Dec. 6-9. The NHK Trophy is the sixth event of the International Skating Union’s GP series.

“Our skate wasn’t ideal and we could have been better but we’re happy to go the GP final,” Moscovitch said. “The fans here today were incredible, the love they have for the sport is remarkable.”

Volosozhar and Trankov had previously qualified for the GP finals along with compatriots Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov.

“The level of figure skating is improving in Russia,” Bazarova said. “We have many new skaters in pairs, especially before the Olympics, so it is very competitive right now, which is good.”

Yuzuru Hanyu seeks Olympic glory after disaster at home

RIFU, Japan – Agence France-Presse

A couple of morning earth tremors and two pratfalls on the ice failed to stop 17-year-old Yuzuru Hanyu from gliding to a figure skating Grand Prix victory in his tsunami-hit home town. Asserting his place among Japanese figure skaters aiming for Winter Olympic glory, he stroked the ice at the end of his performance at the arena -- used as a temporary mortuary after last year’s quake-tsunami disaster.“I talked my heart out when I was greeted by my local fans,” the high school student said after lifting the NHK Trophy, the season’s sixth and last ISU Grand Prix event, on Saturday. “I also talked to the rink, saying ‘I thank you very much’.”

Hanyu, the 2010 world junior champion, broke his own world short-program record on Friday and topped Saturday’s free skate.