Lajoie and Lagha Within Striking Distance of Podium ay NHK Trophy

TOKYO – Ice dancers Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha are less than two points from third place after Friday’s rhythm dance to highlight Canadian performances Friday at the NHK Trophy, the fourth stop on the ISU figure skating circuit.

World champions Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov of Russia are first at 86.33, Madison Chock and Evan Bates of the U.S. second at 86.02 and Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson of Great Britain third at 76.43.

Three teams are in a heated battle for that third spot. Sara Hurtado and Kirill Khaliavin of Spain scored 76.40 for fourth and Lajoie and Lagha are fifth at 74.45.

It was a season best score for the Canadians competing for the fourth time this season. They were fourth at the Autumn Classic International, seventh at Finlandia Trophy and sixth at Skate Canada International two weeks ago.

In men’s competition, Japan’s Shoma Uno capitalised on injured Olympic figure skating champion Yuzuru Hanyu’s absence to lead after the short program with 102.58 points. Vincent Zhou of the U.S. who has won his three previous events this season, is second at 99.51 and Junhwa Cha of South Korea third at 95.92.

Two-time Canadian champion Nam Nguyen of Ajax, Ont., stands 10th. His first jump, a quad Salchow – triple toe loop combination did not go as planned as he doubled the Salchow.

In pairs, Russian world champions Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov lead after the short program with 78.40, ahead of compatriots Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov at 75.78.

Evelyn Walsh of London, Ont., and Trennt Michaud of Brantford, Ont., are sixth at 56.97, over two points better than their score at Skate America in October.

In women’s competition, Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto leads after the short program ahead of compatriot Mana Kawabe and South Korea’s You Young. There are no Canadian entries.

Competition ends Saturday with all four free skates.

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