Japan's Hanyu wins NHK Trophy, qualifying for Grand Prix Finals

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The Japanese figure skating star smashed an overall score of 305.05 points at the men's competition

Two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu clinched his fourth NHK Trophy on Saturday, grabbing a ticket for next month's Grand Prix Finals.

The Japanese figure skating star smashed an overall score of 305.05 points at the men's competition, marking his second straight Grand Prix victory this season.

France's Kevin Aymoz came to second with 250.02 points as Roman Sadovsky of Canada was in third with 247.50 points.

Carrying his comfortable lead at the short programme, Hanyu opened with a quadruple loop and nailed a superb quadruple Salchow at the free programme.

He fluffed a combination jump but kept his nerve delivering clean triple axels and displaying gorgeous steps and spins.

As he completed his performance in style, Hanyu bowed deeply to his fans as they in turn tossed his Winnie the Pooh stuffed toys, his mascot, onto the ice.

"I was nervous," Hanyu admitted after the competition.

"I want to work hard in the (Grand Prix) finals by taking advantage of a lot of energy I received here" from his fans, he added.

Hanyu booked his place at December's Grand Prix Finals in Turin, a showdown by top skaters after the six-round Grand Prix series.

Double world champion Nathan Chen of the US and Russian Alexander Samarin have already qualified.

On the women's side, Russian young star Alena Kostornaia won her first NHK Trophy title.

The 16-year-old landed clean jumps to score an overall score of 240.00 points, sealing her second Grand Prix triumph this season.

With her victory, Russia swept the women's competition of the season's Grand Prix series.

Defending champion Rika Kihira of Japan was in second place with 231.84 points, wowing the home crowd.

Reigning Olympic and world champion Alina Zagitova placed third with 217.99 points, coming back from fourth at the short.

With Saturday's results, Kostornaia, Kihira and Zagitova qualified for the finals.

"I want to produce results that I can be satisfied with" when she competes in the finals, Kostornaia said.

Kihira said: "I want to aim at a perfect performance in the Grand Prix Finals."

Earlier in the day, French ice dance duo Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron won their first NHK Trophy title with a record 226.61 points.

"We were very focused on not doing any mistake and skating well with emotion," Papadakis said.

Asked about qualifying for the Grand Prix Finals, Cizeron said: "We are really, really happy to be able to go to the final. We are going to do our best."

Reigning world champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong of China easily won the pairs title with 226.96 points.

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