Russian teen Kostornaia wins her first NHK Trophy

Sapporo (Japan) (AFP) –


Russian young star Alena Kostornaia won her first NHK Trophy title on Saturday, securing her place at next month's figure skating Grand Prix Finals.

The 16-year-old, maintaining her comfortable lead at the women's short programme, produced clean jumps in the free 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 six-round 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 booked their place at December's Grand Prix Finals in Turin, a showdown by top figure skaters.

"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 being qualified 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.

The men's free programme was scheduled for Saturday evening after two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu overwhelmed his rivals at the short on Friday.