Uno, Sakamoto stumble at figure skating's NHK Trophy

Reigning world champions and home favourites Kaori Sakamoto and Shoma Uno struggled with their jumps Friday and managed only second place in the short programmes at figure skating's NHK Trophy, allowing more junior rivals a chance to shine.

Yelim Kim, 19, of South Korea led the women's field with a graceful routine that earned her 72.22 points, outperforming Beijing Olympic bronze medallist Sakamoto who scored 68.07.

Kim showed off a clean triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination as she opened her elegant routine to the tune of "Mercy" by Max Richter.

A silver medallist at the Grand Prix de France this month, Kim stayed calm throughout her performance, producing a solid double axel and triple flip along with spins, before dazzling the audience with a layback Ina Bauer.

"I am so happy for a clean programme today," Kim said, according to the International Skating Union.

Sakamoto displayed her athleticism during an upbeat performance to "Rock with U" and "Feedback" by Janet Jackson, pulling off a powerful double axel to launch her campaign to defend her home title that she won last year and in 2020.

But she lost control for a moment on her triple Lutz and wobbled when landing a triple flip-triple toe combination, which was under-rotated.

"It was disappointing especially when my title defence and qualifying for the final were at stake," said Sakamoto, the winner of Skate America last month.

For her free programme on Saturday, she said: "I will try to pull off what I could not today and try to catch up."

The men's field was topped by 22-year-old Sota Yamamoto of Japan with 96.49, who was also the silver medallist at the Grand Prix de France.

A dynamic quadruple toe loop-triple toe loop combination kicked off his routine, which also included a quadruple Salchow, triple axel and three level-four spins.

"I am happy with the score," he said, after basking in a standing ovation.

"I will switch my mind and try to forget about today and start fresh tomorrow."

Beijing Olympic bronze medallist Uno, 24, succeeded on his opening quadruple flip but fell after a quadruple toe loop.

He quickly gathered himself to produce a clean show with the rest of his routine and finished with a score of 91.66.

"I was able to land the (triple) axel. Steps and spins were better than Skate Canada," which he won, Uno said.

He vowed to stage a comeback in the free skate programme, slated for Saturday.

Men

Short programme

1. Sota Yamamoto (JPN) 96.49 points

2. Shoma Uno (JPN) 91.66

3. Adam Siao Him Fa (FRA) 87.44

4. Kazuki Tomono (JPN) 85.07

5. Nika Egadze (GEO) 84.47

Women

Short programme

1. Yelim Kim (KOR) 72.22

2. Kaori Sakamoto (JPN) 68.07

3. Rion Sumiyoshi (JPN) 68.01

4. Audrey Shin (USA) 65.87

5. Starr Andrews (USA) 64.13

Pairs

Short programme

1. Riku Miura / Ryuichi Kihara (JPN) 78.25

2. Emily Chan / Spencer Akira Howe (USA) 64.62

3. Brooke McIntosh / Benjamin Mimar (CAN) 62.31

4. Irma Caldara / Riccardo Maglio (ITA) 58.95

5. Camille Kovalev / Pavel Kovalev (FRA) 55.36

Ice dance

Rhythm dance

1. Laurence Fournier Beaudry / Nikolaj Soerensen (CAN) 85.66

2. Madison Chock / Evan Bates (USA) 85.00

3. Caroline Green / Michael Parsons (USA) 77.00

4. Allison Reed / Saulius Ambrulevicius (LTU) 75.23

5. Kana Muramoto / Daisuke Takahashi (JPN) 75.10

hih/axn