Competing for the first time this season in the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating, ice dancers Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker made quite the statement.
Skating to “In This Shirt” by the Irrepressibles, the U.S. team scored 113.92 on their free dance Sunday to take the top overall score at the NHK Trophy in Hiroshima, Japan. They finished with 184.63 points over the two nights, beating Russia’s Tiffani Zagorski and Jonathan Guerreiro by 1.58 points.
The win was Hawayek and Baker’s first on the grand prix circuit.
The sister-brother team of Rachel and Michael Parsons also reached the podium, scoring 109.57 in their free dance to finish third with a point total of 178.64. The 2010 Youth Olympians were also third after Saturday’s rhythm dance with a score of 69.07.
Hawayek and Baker posted personal best scores in both programs. In second place after Saturday’s rhythm dance, they passed Zagorski and Guerreiro, who led after the rhythm dance.
Hawayek and Baker were competing on the grand prix tour for the first time since moving to Montreal to train under Patrice Lauzon, Marie-France Dubreuil and Romain Haguenauer. The current Four Continents champions and 2014 world junior champions won their first grand prix medal four years ago, a bronze medal, at NHK Trophy.
The free dance wrapped up the NHK Trophy, with U.S. skaters winning three medals in Japan. In addition to the two ice dance teams, the pairs team of Alexa Scimeca-Knierim and Chris Knierim won a bronze medal on Saturday local time.
Paul D. Bowker has been writing about Olympic sports since 1996, when he was an assistant bureau chief in Atlanta. He is sports editor of the Cape Cod Times and a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.