Shoma Uno edged Vincent Zhou of the United States on Friday to take the lead after the short program at the NHK Trophy, the fourth event of the International Skating Union’s Grand Prix series.
Uno opened with a quad flip and then landed a quad toe as part of a planned combination jump but could only manage a double toe instead of a triple toe on the second element.
The Olympic silver medallist also landed a triple axel and finished with 102.58 points.
“That’s a jump I know I can do so it’s a bit disappointing,” the Japanese skater said of the combination jump. “The free skate tomorrow will be twice as hard as the short program so I will have to be at my best.”
WATCH l Japan’s Shoma Uno delivers on home ice:
Skating first in the final group, Zhou landed a quad lutz-triple toe combination as well as a quad salchow and a triple axel for a season-best 99.51 points. The 2019 world bronze medallist is coming off his first Grand Prix title at Skate America, where he upset favourite Nathan Chen.
Zhou’s last two jumps were slightly under-rotated.
“Actually, I felt a little bit shaky. My legs were a little bit nervous, and I think that was reflected in the quality of some of my spins and my triple Axel,” Zhou said. “I definitely understand why I didn’t reach 100 points, but overall I’m pretty happy with my performance. I think it is a good point to move on to tomorrow.”
Canada’s Nam Nguyen heads into the long in 10th place with 64.28. The Ajax, Ont., skater struggled with his opening elements, doubling his salchow combination and under-rotating his triple axel.
WATCH l Canada’s Nguyen skates to 10th after short program:
No Yuruzu Hanyu
Cha Jun-hwan of South Korea, who opened with a quad salchow, was third with 95.92 points.
Two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu was forced to withdraw because of a right ankle injury.
In the women’s short program, defending champion Kaori Sakamoto led a 1-2 finish for Japan.
Skating to “Now We Are Free” from “Gladiator,” Sakamoto landed a triple lutz, a double axel and a triple flip-triple toe combination to score a season-best 76.56 points.
“I was able to skate cleanly and I was very calm throughout,” Sakamoto said. “I was quite nervous and felt like I wasn’t well grounded, but during the warmup, I was able to get my usual jumps back and I was able to realize that I was back to my normal self.”
WATCH l Defending champion Sakamoto tops short program:
Mana Kawabe landed the only triple axel of the women’s short program and followed that with a triple lutz-triple toe and a triple flip for a personal-best 73.88 points.
South Korea’s You Young fell on her opening triple axel but recovered with a triple lutz-triple toe and a triple flip for 68.08 points.
American teenager Alysa Liu also fell on her opening triple axel and finished her short program in fourth place with 67.72 points.
Skate America sliver medalist Daria Usacheva of Russia withdrew from the event after a bad fall in warmup.
Canada’s Lajoie, Lagha less than 2 points off podium
World ice dance champions Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov of Russia edged two-time world medallists Madison Chock and Evan Bates of the United States to take a slim lead in rhythm dance.
WATCH l World champs Sinitsina, Katsalapov lead ice dance:
Sinitsina and Katsalapov received 86.33 points. Chock and Bates, the two-time Four Continents champions, achieved a season-best with 86.02 points. Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson of Britain were third with 76.43 points.
Canadian ice dancers Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha are in fifth place with 74.45, less than two points off the bronze. It was a season-best score for the Quebec duo, following their fourth at the Autumn Classic International, seventh at the Finlandia Open, and sixth at Skate Canada International.
WATCH l Canada’s Marjorie Lajoie, Zachary Lagha in striking distance:
World champions Anastasia Mishina and Alexander Galliamov of Russia skated to the lead in the pairs short program after receiving 78.40 points. Teammates Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov were second with 75.78, followed by Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara of Japan with 73.98.
WATCH l Russia’s Mishina, Galliamov perform in Japan:
Canada’s Evelyn Walsh of London, Ont., and Trennt Michaud of Brantford, Ont., are in sixth with 56.97.
The NHK Trophy wraps up on Saturday. The next event is the Nov. 19-21 Internationaux de France.
WATCH l Canadians Walsh and Michaud currently in 6th: