Figure skating: Sakamoto narrowly defeated by Kim at NHK Trophy

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World champion Kaori Sakamoto was narrowly defeated by South Korea’s Kim Ye Lim at the NHK Trophy on Saturday, while Rion Sumiyoshi completed the podium for Japan.

Sakamoto achieved the highest free skate score of 133.80 at the Makomanai Sekisuiheim Ice Arena, but her total of 201.87 left her just adrift of Kim, who claimed her first victory on the figure skating Grand Prix circuit with 204, 49.

Japanese figure skater Kaori Sakamoto performs in the free women’s program at the NHK Trophy at Makomanai Sekisuiheim Ice Arena in Sapporo, Hokkaido, northern Japan on November 19, 2022. She won silver. (TBEN) ==TBEN

Last year’s winner in Tokyo, Sakamoto landed cleanly a series of jumps, including a triple lutz and a triple flip-double toe loop combination, but she lost vital points turning a triple loop into a single.

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“Although it was a bit frustrating, I did my best at the moment, so I’m happy with that,” said Beijing Winter Olympics winner Sakamoto.

South Korean Kim Ye Lim performs in the free women’s program at the NHK Trophy at Makomanai Sekisuiheim Ice Arena in Sapporo, Hokkaido, northern Japan on November 19, 2022. She won gold. (TBEN)

Short program winner Kim touched the ice with her hand on a triple somersault and fell on a combination attempt, but was otherwise solid on her free skate with multiple triple jumps.

“I can’t believe I’ve taken first place in a Grand Prix series. I’m so happy and I’m going to cry,” said Kim, who scored 132.27 for her free skate.

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Japanese figure skater Rion Sumiyoshi performs in the free women’s program at the NHK Trophy at Makomanai Sekisuiheim Ice Arena in Sapporo, Hokkaido, northern Japan on November 19, 2022. She won bronze. (TBEN) ==TBEN

Sumiyoshi totaled 193.12 to take her second Grand Prix bronze in a row after finishing third on her track debut at the Grand Prix de France earlier this month.

In pairs, Japan’s Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara rode to their second Grand Prix gold, totaling 216.16, finishing in 28.67 ahead of Americans Emily Chan and Spencer Akira Howe in second. Canada’s Brooke McIntosh and Benjamin Mimar took bronze with 175.65.

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Japan’s Sota Yamamoto leads compatriot Shoma Uno, the reigning world champion, on his way to the men’s free skate.

Japanese pair skaters Riku Miura (above) and Ryuichi Kihara perform in the NHK Trophy free program at Makomanai Sekisuiheim Ice Arena in Sapporo, northern Japan, on November 19, 2022. The pair won gold. (TBEN) ==TBEN


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