Shoma Uno leads NHK Trophy despite short program fall
It wasn't Shoma Uno's best skate. But it was enough.
The home favourite leads after the men's short program at the NHK Trophy in Japan while Russia's Elizaveta Tuktamysheva edged the top in the ladies.
Despite falling on his quadruple toe loop and not having a jumping combination, the PyeongChang 2018 silver medallist scored 92.49 points to edge out a slim lead over Russia's Sergei Voronov.
The 20-year-old, skating to Led Zeplin's Stairway to Heaven, opened with a shaky quadruple flip and then crashed to the ice after failing to land his quadruple toe loop jump and missed out on his planned combination.
“My performance was not that great, there were major mistakes.” - Shoma Uno to isu.org
But the world champion runner-up had a stronger second half which included a triple Axel to narrowly lead by 1.12 points at the Hiroshima Green Arena.
Uno would want nothing more than to repeat his victory at Skate Canada two weeks ago.
"Of course, I have regrets, but the mistake today was different from Skate Canada (when Uno missed a triple Axel). There, it happened mostly because of emotions, while today my body was moving almost too well.” - Shoma Uno to isu.org
Last year's winner, Voronov stayed on his skates throughout to notch up a season's best of 91.37 points. At 31 years of age he is the oldest skater in the competition and managed to improve on his score in Laval by over 10 points.
"I am just happy that I was able to go out after one of the top skaters of the world and show my level and what I am capable of... this is my best score ever.” - Voronov to isu.org
The Russian finished third at Skate America and will be hoping for back-to-back wins in Japan with another strong performance in the free skate.
His younger compatriot, 19-year-old Dmitri Aliev finished third, 11.33 points off the lead and could be on course for a career first Grand Prix podium finish on Saturday.
"Overall I felt good emotionally and it was a good fight" - Aliev to isu.org
Tuktamysheva denies home fans
Skate Canada winner Tuktamysheva landed her second triple axel in as many Grand Prix short programs to lead in the Ladies, but only by 0.09 points.
The 2015 World Champion denied Japan's Satoko Miyahara the top spot at home with a clean program that included a triple toe-triple toe combination and a triple Lutz to amass 76.17 points - the second highest score of the season to-date behind Alina Zagitova.
"I put a lot of energy into my program, because I really wanted to skate well. Now I feel a bit empty emotionally and I want to recover for the free skating and want to skate better than in Canada. - Tuktamysheva to isu.org
The home fans will be fully behind Miyahara to beat Tuktamysheva in the free skate.
The Japanese who took victory at Skate America bettered her score in Everett for a season's best of 76.08.
“I was nervous in the short program today, but I did the jumps better than I thought I would and so I achieved my goal for the jumps." - Miyahara to isu.org
Mai Mihara makes her Grand Prix season debut in third and could well be in contention for the win, only 5.79 points off the lead.
The NHK Trophy winners will be crowned on Saturday with the men and ladies free skate program.