Grand Prix Series

Team USA’s Ava Marie Ziegler wins gold at NHK Trophy

By Gina Capellazzi, Team FSO website administrator
Photos by Robin Ritoss

The NHK Trophy was the sixth and final event of the 2023-2024 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series and also marked the final opportunity for skaters to qualify for the Grand Prix Final, which will take place Dec. 7-10 in Beijing, China. 

NHK Trophy, which took place this year in Osaka, Japan, had some surprising results, including the women’s event, where Team USA’s Ava Marie Ziegler won the event, in only her second-ever Grand Prix event.

In fifth after the short program, Ziegler opened her free skate with a triple flip-double Axel-double Axel sequence as well as six more triple jumps. She earned a new personal best free skate score of 138.46. For the first time in her career, Ziegler broke the 200 point-barrier with an overall score of 200.50. This was Ziegler’s only Grand Prix event of the season and only her second Grand Prix event of her career. Last season, she finished 4th at Skate Canada International.

Ziegler will now prepare for the U.S. Championships in January. 

The leader after the short program, fellow American Lindsay Thorngren opened her free skate with a triple Lutz-triple toe combination, but fell on a double salchow and her triple flip was called on the quarter. She earned a free skate score of 129.80, which was third in the free skate. Thorngren’s overall score of 198.73 was enough for her to claim the silver medal, her first Grand Prix medal.

Thorngren revealed during the event that she sprained her ankle before the practice of the short program and was able to push through with the help of her team. Thorngren, who finished fifth at Skate Canada International, is the second alternate for the Grand Prix Final. Unless she’s called up to compete at the Final, Thorngren’s next competition is the U.S. Championships.

The last time U.S. women went one-two in a Grand Prix event was 2016 Skate America, where Ashley Wagner won the gold medal and Mariah Bell won the silver. The last time U.S. women went one-two at an event other than Skate America was the March 1997 Grand Prix Final where Tara Lipinski and Michelle Kwan won gold and silver respectively. Combined with Isabeau Levito’s win at Grand Prix de France earlier in the season, it’s the first time since 2015 that two different U.S. women have won a Grand Prix title in one season.

Nina Pinzarrone of Belgium, who was in second after the short program, earned the bronze medal. In her free skate, she opened with a triple lutz-triple toe combination that was called underrotated. She also attempted a triple loop-double Axel-double-toe sequence, but the triple loop was called on the quarter. She did have four clean triple jumps in her program. Pinzarrone, who won silver at Grand Prix de France, finished second in the free skate with a score of 131.22 and third overall with a score of 194.66. With her second place finish in France (13 points) and her third place finish in Japan (11), Pinzarrone finished with 24 points, which was enough to qualify for her first Grand Prix Final.

World silver medalist Haein Lee, of Korea, struggled with under rotations in the free skate with five jumps called under rotated. She finished fourth overall with a score of 188.95, despite finishing sixth in the free skate. Lee finished fourth at Grand Prix de France. Lee will compete next at the Korean Championships in early January. In her first Grand Prix event, Japan’s Yuna Aoki rosed from eighth place to finish fifth overall with a score of 184.46. European champion Anastasiia Gubanova moved up from tenth to finish sixth with 184.32 points. Grand Prix Final champion Mai Mihara, who withdrew from her first Grand Prix event due to injury, struggled with some of her jumps in the free skate to drop from fourth to eighth place with 172.64 points.

Along with Pinzarrone, Kaori Sakamoto (Japan), Isabeau Levito (USA), Loena Hendrickx (Belgium), Hana Yoshida (Japan) and Rion Sumiyoshi have qualified for the Grand Prix Final. Chaeyeon Kim (Korea), Lindsay Thorngren (USA) and Niina Petrokina (Estonia) are the three alternates.


It was Yuma Kagiyama vs. Shoma Uno in the men’s event in Osaka. Coming out on top was Kagiyama, the 2022 Olympic silver medalist, who is continuing his comeback season after missing last season due to injury.

The leader after the short program, Kagiyama executed a quadruple salchow and a quadruple toe-Euler-double salchow combination, along with a triple loop and triple Axel-double Axel sequence. His only mistake was falling on the second triple Axel. He earned a score of 182.88, which was second in the free skate, but held onto first place overall with a score of 288.39. With his bronze medal at Grand Prix de France (11 points) and with gold at NHK Trophy (15 points), Kagiyama has earned 26 points, enough to qualify for the Grand Prix Final.

In his free skate, Uno, the two-time Olympic medalist who was in second after the short program, landed four quadruple jumps, including quadruple loop, quadruple flip and two quadruple toe jumps. All of his quads were called on the quarter. Uno also produced two triple Axels to earn a free skate score of 186.35, which was first in the free skate, but it was not enough for him to move up and claim the gold medal. He remained in second overall with a score of 286.55. With his silver medal at Cup of China (13 points) and silver at NHK Trophy (13 points), the reigning Grand Prix Final champion has qualified for his sixth Grand Prix Final.

Lukas Britschgi of Switzerland won the bronze medal. In third after the short program, Britschgi executed two quadruple toes as well as five triples, including two Axels in his free skate. The European bronze medalist scored 168.18 points in the free skate and earned a total score of 254.60 to win the first ISU Grand Prix medal for Switzerland since Stéphane Lambiel and Sarah Meier both took a silver back in 2007.

Georgia’s Nika Egadze moved up from seventh place to finish just off the podium in fourth place with an overall score of  237.34 while Team USA’s Camden Pulkinen finished in fifth place with 229.32 points. Italy’s Gabriele Frangipani finished in sixth (227.15 points).

Along with Kagiyama and Uno, Adam Siao Him Fa (FRA), Ilia Malinin (USA), Kao Miura (JPN) and Kevin Aymoz (FRA) have qualified for the Final. Shun Sato, Sota Yamamoto and Lukas Britschgi are the three alternates.


After winning gold last week at Grand Prix Espoo, Germany’s Minerva Fabienne Hase and Nikita Volodin won gold in NHK Trophy, qualifying for their first Grand Prix Final as a team. In the free skate, Hase and Volodin delivered a triple twist, side-by-side triple toe-double Axel-double Axel sequence and throw triple loop and salchow. Their only mistakes was when Hase doubled the side-by-side salchow. They earned a free skate score of 135.28, which was a personal best score. They finished with a total score of 202.51.

Italy’s Lucrezia Beccari and Matteo Guarise, who are in their second season together, took home the silver medal in Japan. In their free skate, they executed a triple twist, triple toe-single Axel-double Axel sequence and a throw triple loop. Guarise fell on the side-by-side triple salchow, and the team had to abort their Axel Lasso lift. Beccari and Guarise finished with a free skate score of 123.54 and a total score of 190.31 to win the silver medal. They had won the bronze medal at Skate Canada International.

Fellow Italian pairs skaters Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini took home the bronze medal. In the free skate, they executed a side-by-side double Axel-double Axel-single Axel sequence, and throw triple Lutz and loop. Their only mistake was Ghilardi underrotated the side-by-side triple salchow. The team earned a free skate score of 123.49 and a total score of 186.47 to take the bronze medal. With their silver medal at Cup of China (13 points and bronze medal at NHK Trophy (11 points), Ghilardi and Ambrosini have earned a spot in the Grand Prix Final with 24 points. Beccari and Guarise also finished with 24 points but lost the spot on the tie breaker. They are second alternates for the Final.

Australia’s Anastasia Golubeva and Hektor Giotopoulos Moore missed the podium by just over a point (185.39 points). The Netherlands’ Daria Danilova and Michel Tsiba finished in fifth place (177.54 points). 

Along with Hase/Volodin and Ghilardi and Ambrosini, Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps (CAN), Lia Pereira and Trennt Michaud (CAN), Sara Conti/Niccolo Macii (ITA), Annika Hocke/Robert Kunkel (GER) have qualified for the Final. Maria Pavlova and Alexei Sviatchenko (HUN), Lucrezia Beccari and Matteo Guarise (ITA) and Cheng Peng and Lei Wang (CHN) are the three alternates.


Another surprising result came in the dance event where Great Britain’s Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson won gold ahead of European champions Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri, of Italy. Lithuania’s Allison Reed and Saulius Ambrulevicius earned their second bronze of the Grand Prix season. To read more about the dance event, visit