TOKYO — Canada's Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha put up their best performance of the season Saturday with a fifth-place finish in free dance at the NHK Trophy.
World champions Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov of Russia won gold with a total of 215.44 points, while Madison Chock and Evan Bates of the United States took the silver with 210.78 points. Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson of Britain (191.91) finished third.
Lajoie, of Boucherville, Que., and Lagha, of St-Hubert, Que., were in a three-way battle for the bronze, but wound up fifth at 187.38. Their rhythm dance, free dance and total score were all season's best amongst their four competitions.
"A great way to finish this section of the season," Lagha said. "It was like we learned to stay calm while we skated.
"It was a great week overall."
The pairs event was won by Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov with 227.28 points, while Russians teammates Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov took second (213.27).
Japan's Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara were third with 209.42.
Evelyn Walsh of London, Ont., and Trennt Michaud of Brantford, Ont., were sixth with 167.98 — 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," Michaud said. "But there's still a lot we want to keep working on. There were some different mistakes this time.
"We are still not where we need to be."
Japan's Shoma Uno, meanwhile, landed four quadruple jumps to win the men's event and bolster his prospects for the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
First after the short program, the Olympic silver medallist received 187.57 points for a personal-best total of 290.15. Vincent Zhou of the United States was second with 260.69 followed by South Korea’s Cha Jun-hwan with 259.60.
Two-time Canadian champion Nam Nguyen was 10th.
"It was a tough week," said the native of Ajax, Ont. "I'd been working really hard since Skate America leading into this event, but unfortunately it didn't reflect too well.
"When I get back home there's about 90 per cent of the free program I need to deal with."
Uno opened with a quad loop and followed with a quad salchow in his routine to "Bolero." His only major mistake came when he could only manage a double flip instead of a quad.
"I was able to execute the jumps as I do in practice," Uno said after also having two quad toe loops. "Completing those jumps early gave me a little breathing room in the second half of the routine."
With Saturday’s win, Uno also qualified for the Dec. 9-12 Grand Prix Final in Osaka.
Two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu was forced to withdraw due to a right ankle injury.
Zhou, second after the short program, planned to open his routine with a quad lutz but could only manage a single. He recovered after that with four quad jumps but finished the free skate in sixth place with 161.18 points.
Zhou is the 2019 world bronze medallist and was coming off his first Grand Prix title at Skate America, where he upset Nathan Chen.
Cha fell on his second element, a quad salchow, but landed the rest of his jumps. He finished fifth in the free skate but it was enough to maintain third place from the short program.
In the women's event, defending champion Kaori Sakamoto held on to her advantage from the short program to win the free skate and lead a 1-2 finish for Japan.
Sakamoto's routine doesn't feature a triple axel. She opened with a double axel, a triple lutz and a triple flip-double toe combination. The 21-year-old then added a triple salchow, a triple flip-triple toe and a triple loop for a season-best score of 146.78 and a total of 223.34.
"One month ago it would have been hard to imagine today's result," Sakamoto said. "I don't have a big element so I have to make sure I skate clean."
Mana Kawabe fell on her opening triple axel but landed seven triple jumps in her routine to "Miracle" and scored 131.56 points for 205.44 overall.
South Korea's You Young also fell on her opening triple axel, but went on to land five triples to finish third with 203.60 points.
Alysa Liu of the United States opened with a triple axel but it was slightly under-rotated and she finished in fourth place with 202.90 points.
The next Grand Prix event is the Nov. 19-21 Internationaux de France.
-With files from the Associated Press
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 13, 2021.
The Associated Press