TOKYO –Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha completed a season’s best performance Saturday in their free dance to finish fifth in ice dancing for Canada’s top result at the NHK Trophy, the fourth stop on the ISU Grand Prix figure skating circuit.
World champions Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov of Russia won the gold medal with 215.44 points. Madison Chock and Evan Bates of the U.S. were second at 210.78 and Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson of Great Britain third at 191.91.
Lajoie and Lagha were in a three-way battle for the bronze and produce the fourth best free dance on Saturday but remained fifth overall at 187.38. Their rhythm dance, free dance and total score were all season’s best amongst their four competitions so far.
‘’This is a great way to finish this section of the season,’’ said Lagha, from St-Hubert, Que. ‘’It was like we learned to stay calm while we skated and with the crowd and everything it was a great week overall.’’
The pairs event was won by Russia’s Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov with 227.28. Their compatriots Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov took second with 213.27.
Evelyn Walsh of London, Ont., and Trennt Michaud of Brantford, Ont., remained sixth with 167.98, which was more than 20 points better than their score in an eighth-place result at Skate America last month.
‘’Things that we worked on since Skate America definitely got better,’’ said Michaud. ‘’But there’s still a lot we want to keep working on. There were some different mistakes this time and we are still not where we need to be.’’
Shoma Uno of Japan took the men’s crown for his first top-level international figure skating title in nearly three years, distancing American Vincent Zhou in a battle of Olympic medal contenders.
Two-time Canadian champion Nam Nguyen of Ajax, Ont., remained in 10th spot.
‘’It was a tough week,’’ he admitted. ‘’I’d been working really hard since Skate America leading into this event but unfortunately it didn’t reflect too well this week. When I get back home there’s about 90 percent of the free program I need to deal with.’’
Kaori Sakamato successfully defended her women’s title on Saturday, with a season-best 223.34. Japanese compatriot Mana Kawabe, who started the day 2.68 points back in second, totalled 205.44 to take silver, with South Korea’s You Young rounding out the podium a further 1.84 points behind.
There were no Canadian entries in the women’s event.
The fifth stop on the circuit goes this upcoming Friday and Saturday in Grenoble, France.