NAGANO, Japan, Nov 7 AFP - Former world champions Miki Ando and Brian Joubert claimed gold in the women's and men's events respectively at the NHK Trophy figure skating Grand Prix here on Saturday.
Former world champions Miki Ando and Brian Joubert claimed gold in the women's and men's events respectively at the NHK Trophy figure skating Grand Prix here on Saturday.
Japan's 2007 world champion Ando earned a spot in the Grand Prix final in Tokyo in early December after she claimed her second Grand Prix victory of the season after the Cup of Russia last month.
Ando finished second in both the short and free programs but it was enough to secure victory ahead of Russia's 18-year-old world junior champion Alena Leonova.
Leonova topped the women's free program with 108.51 points and finished second overall at 160.85, still 1.70 points behind Ando.
American teenager Ashley Wagner, who lead the short program, placed third in free skating and third overall with 155.99.
"I don't know why I made so many jumping mistakes today. I must start eliminating the mistakes toward the Final so that I can enjoy skating," said 21-year-old Ando.
Joubert, the 2007 world men's champion, put his disappointing fourth in the season-opening Grand Prix, the Trophee Eric Bompard, behind him, taking a 2.35-point lead from the short program into the free skating final.
And the Frenchman nailed an opening quadruple toeloop but downgraded two more four-revolution jumps in free skating to assure himself of his first Grand Prix title of the season.
He collected 147.35 points in the free program for a total of 232.70, followed by American Johnny Weir at 217.70 and 19-year-old Czech Michal Brezina at 217.48.
Skating to "Ancient Land" by Ronan Hardiman, Joubert touched the ice after a triple axel in an early element before executing six triples with varying success.
"After I landed the first quad, I avoided the rest because I wanted to win this competition no matter what," the 25-year-old said. "I'm very happy because I have worked a lot."
The NHK Trophy is the fourth of the six-stage ISU Grand Prix series over six weeks.
Each skater is allowed to compete in just two events with the best six in points standings in men's and women's singles as well as pairs and ice dance qualifying for the Grand Prix Final in Tokyo.
"I know I must land two or three quadruples as I step toward the Grand Prix Final and my ultimate goal of the Olympics," said Joubert, who finished sixth at the 2006 Turin Olympics before clinching the 2007 world title.
"If I can do three quads with quality skating, it will be great," added the three-time European champion who finished third at the world championships in March.
Weir, the 2008 world bronze medallist who has struggled with a high fever, said:L "I'm proud of myself that I can push through a strong competition."
China's 2006 world pairs champions Pang Qing and Tong Jiang overcame a 1.60-point deficit from the short program to win the NHK Trophy for the second straight year with a flawless free-skating performance.
With two wins, Pang and Tong also assured themselves of a spot in the Grand Prix Final.
In ice dance, Four Continent champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the United States extended their lead over British siblings Sinead and John Kerr in the original dance to 9.61 points.
The ice dance contest was to wrap up with free skating on Sunday.