Vincent Zhou greets fans after the medal ceremony for the men's free program at Skate America on Oct. 23, 2021 in Las Vegas.
Vincent Zhou made sure his trip to Japan this weekend wouldn’t be his last of the year.
With a silver medal at NHK Trophy in Tokyo on Saturday, the 2018 U.S. Olympian booked his first-ever trip to the Grand Prix Final, to be held Dec. 9-12 in Osaka, Japan.
The U.S. silver medalist, who defeated teammate and three-time world champion Nathan Chen to win Skate America last month, had to fight his way through the five quadruple jumps in his “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” free skate, popping his opening quad lutz into a single and landing a few other quads a bit short of rotation.
Although Zhou placed just sixth in the free skate, his strong short program on Friday, and 260.69 point total, was good enough for second place.
“I’m very disappointed in my performance,” Zhou said. “I made a lot of mistakes. I really wish I could have done better and capitalized on my opportunity here, but thankfully this is not the Olympics. I think this is good to get this out of my system now.”
Team USA’s Tomoki Hiwatashi placed ninth with 217.08 points, while Camden Pulkinen was 11th with 193.18 points.
Two-time world silver medalist Shoma Uno of Japan landed four quads in his free skate to Ravel’s Bolero to win the title with 290.15 points, some 30 points above Zhou’s score. Junhwan Cha of South Korea won bronze with 259.60 points.
NHK Trophy is the fourth of six Grand Prix events held this fall. The top six performers in each discipline will qualify to compete at the Final.
The U.S. ice dance team of Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue already qualified. They're likely to have some American company in Osaka.
Two-time Olympians Madison Chock and Evan Bates, who placed second to training partners Hubbell and Donohue at Skate America last month, won their second Grand Prix silver medal of the season in Tokyo. Although still unofficial, these results have very likely earned the veteran ice dancers their seventh trip to the Grand Prix Final; they won their third silver medal at the event in 2019-20.