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Japanese Skaters Lead at NHK Grand Prix in Tokyo


World champion Mao Asada of Japan and compatriot Nobunari Oda lead after the short programs at the NHK Grand Prix of Figure Skating competition in Tokyo, Japan.

Veteran Chinese skaters Pang Qing and Tong Jian lead the pairs competition and Italians Federica Faiella And Massimo Scali lead the ice dancing after the first day.

In the women's short program, Asada had a season-best score of 64.64 points to finish ahead of American Ashley Wagner, who had 61.52 points. Asada needs to finish first or second in this event to win one of three remaining slots in next month's Grand Prix final in South Korea.

In the men's program, Oda - who is coming off a one-year suspension after a drunk driving arrest - hit all his jumps and finished with 81.63 points. American Johnny Weir is second with 78.15 points, and Frenchman Yannick Ponsero is third. Four men will earn berths to the finals.

Pang Qing and Tong Jian scored 63.1 points for their short program. American Rena Inoue and John Baldwin are in second place with Canada's Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison third.

In ice dancing, Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali took the lead after the compulsory and original events with 89.31 points. The French couple of Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat is second with 87.47 points.

The NHK Trophy is the last event of the International Skating Union's Grand Prix season.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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