OSAKA, Japan (AP) — Ava Marie Ziegler performed a near-flawless free skate Saturday to win the NHK Trophy and lead a U.S. 1-2 finish on the podium.
Fifth after the short program, Ziegler landed all of her jumps cleanly to score a personal-best 138.46 points in the free skate for her first title in the Grand Prix series with a total of 200.50, also a personal best.
Lindsay Thorngren, who led after the short program, fell on a double salchow but was solid with all her other jumps and placed second with 198.73 points.
Nina Pinzarrone of Belgium was third with 194.66, a result that allowed her to secure a place in the Dec. 7-10 Grand Prix Final at Beijing. South Korea's Lee Hae-in was fourth with 188.95 points.
The 17-year-old Ziegler, skating to “Liberation” and “Bound to You” by Christina Aguilera, landed a triple flip-double axel-double axel sequence as well as six more triple jumps.
“I really used my fifth-place result yesterday to motivate me because I know that I could do better and I really used it to push me to be the best that I could be today,” the New Jersey native said.
Thorngren’s program to music from “Twilight” featured a triple lutz-triple toe combination and three more clean triples.
It was the first Grand Prix medal for the 17-year-old Thorngren, also of New Jersey.
“I know I can do better, but I’m really happy with how I’ve performed here and the experience I gained,” said Thorngren, who revealed that she sprained her ankle before the practice of the short program.
Two-time world champion Kaori Sakamoto of Japan, Isabeau Levito of the United States and Loena Hendrickx of Belgium have already qualified for the GP Final as have Japanese skaters Hana Yoshida and Rion Sumiyoshi.
The NHK Trophy is the sixth and last event of the International Skating Union’s Grand Prix series, which leads in the Grand Prix Final.
In ice dance, European silver medalists Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson of Britain won the gold medal with a personal-best score of 130.26 in the free dance for a total of 215.19.
European champions Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri of Italy were second with 214.56 points followed by Allison Reed and Saulius Ambrulevicius of Lithuania, who were third with 196.86.
With their win in Japan, Fear and Gibson qualified for the GP Final along with Guignard and Fabbri.
The competition concludes later Saturday with the free skate in both men’s and pairs.
Japan's Yuma Kagiyama upstaged two-time world champion and compatriot Shoma Uno on Friday to finish first in the men’s short program.
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