Golden Skate

Team USA gains momentum on day two at World Team Trophy

The 2019 ISU World Team Trophy continued on Friday with the Pairs’ Short Program, Free Dance, and the Men’s Free Skate in Fukuoka, Japan. Team USA currently leads with 91 points, followed by Team Japan (79) and Team Russia (70).

The ISU World Team Trophy format is based on a competition consisting of the six best national teams from ISU Members with a special provision for the host ISU Member to be included as a Qualified Member. Competing in this sixth edition of the event, are: Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Russia, and the United States. Each team is composed of two Men and Ladies’ single skaters, one pair team, and one ice dance team. Each team nominates a Captain who represents the team.

Team USA (91 points)

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In their jazzy short program to “Bella Belle,” Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc were nearly solid landing a throw triple Lutz, and triple twist, however, Cain put a hand down on the side-by-side triple loops which were called underrotated. They finished in fifth place with 66.91 points.

Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue gave a dramatic performance to music from the modern-day Romeo and Juliet soundtrack. The team was solid, earning level 4 on nearly all elements (Hubbell received a level 3 on the one-foot steps) along with high GOEs. The 2019 World bronze medalists finished third (127.11) in the free dance and overall (209.97).

Nathan Chen gave his version of a scaled-down yet powerful routine to “Land Of All” by Woodkid which featured three clean quads: Salchow, toe, and quad toe (with triple toe). The 2019 World champion also nailed five triple jumps, but stepped out of a solo triple Axel . He earned 199.49 points for first place in the free skate and still broke the 300-mark total score with 301.44 points for first overall.

Vincent Zhou finished second in the free skate (198.50) and overall (299.01), earning three new season’s bests at this event to cap off his year. The 2019 World bronze medalist nailed three quads: Lutz, Salchow, and toe, along with six clean triple jumps. His routine to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon also featured level 4 spins and footwork, and all elements were awarded positive GOEs.

“Team USA put out a lot of wonderful performances, some seasons bests, and we’re all very happy and proud,” said Hubbell, the team’s captain.

When asked what her thoughts were on for the next and final day, she said: “Not to say that Ice Dance is incredibly predictable, but statistically the mistakes are less, so it’s easier to kind of guess your position. Freestyle and pairs are incredibly challenging to predict. While we are confident in the Ladies and Pair on our team are going out trying to do their best, we know that anything can happen. We’ll be there supporting them and hopefully we’ll stay in the first position. But there are difficult opponents to either side of me. ”

Team Japan (79 points)

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Riku Miura and Shoya Ichihashi struggled with their jumps in their routine to “Cry Me a River,” the triple toes were underrotated and their was a step out on the throw triple Salchow. The lift didn’t quite make it, but the team earned a level 4 on their combination spin and footwork, placing sixth with 44.93 points.

Misato Komatsubara and Timo Koleto earned a new season’s best of 99.31 (sixth place) for their free dance to “Une histoire d’amour.” Their routine was highlighted by difficult level 4 lifts and they finished with 160.24 overall, another season’s best.

Shoma Uno took third place in the free skate (189.46) and overall (282.24). The 2018 Olympic silver medalist underrotated his a quad Salchow, but landed a quad flip-triple toe and quad flip. He attempted a rare triple Axel-quad toe combination, but fell hard on the back end. While his footwork was a level 2, all spins were graded a level 4 with high GOES in his modern version of “Moonlight Sonata.”

Keiji Tanaka earned all new season’s bests at this event, finishing sixth in the free skate (169.79) and fifth overall (258.84). The Japanese national bronze medalist landed a quad toe as well as a total of seven clean triple jumps. All spins and footwork were graded a level 4 in his routine to William Tell Overture.

“Pairs and singles are difficult to predict, just as Madison said,” agreed Komatsubara. “Our Ladies said leave the rest to us and I’m very proud of what they said. I hope everybody will finish with a smile tomorrow.”

Team Russia (70 points)

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Putting out a powerful routine to Alexander Nevski, Natalia Zabiiako and Alexander Enbert landed solid side-by-side triple toes, a throw triple loop, and triple twist. Their lift, spin, and footwork all received a level 4 and the 2019 World bronze medalists scored a new season’s best of 75.80

Performing to Suite in D “Air” and “Praeludium and Allegro,” Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov earned high GOEs for all elements, showing more improvement since last month in Saitama. Katsalapov’s twizzles and one-foot steps received a level 3, but all other elements were graded a level 4 in their expressive routine. The 2019 World silver medalists finished second in the free dance with a new season’s best of 130.63 to and overall (215.20).

Andrei Lazukin finished in eighth place (160.37) in the free skate and overall (249.33) after his performance to Romeo and Juliet Overture. The 2019 Dragon Trophy silver medalist showed good effort, landing a quad toe and five triple jumps, but put a hand down on his opening quad toe-double toe. All spins and footwork earned level 4 and the only other error was a foot down on the landing of a triple Lutz-double Axel sequence.

Alexander Samarin scored 158.53 points (ninth) for his free skate to The Greatest Showman which featured a quad toe-triple toe and five triple jumps. The only major error came when he stepped out and put a hand down on a triple Axel. The 2019 European silver medalist placed 10th overall.

“Today our pair started off very well with a personal best score and won the short program,” noted Katsalapov. “I hope they’ll continue the same way. Victoria and myself also set a personal best and skated very well. Our guys were trying very hard. Andrei Lazukin did a great job and contributed to the team. Alexander Samarin also fought. He made a regrettable mistake, but he still did all he could do.”

“We have very strong opponents and the gap to first place is very big,” he pointed out. “I put my hopes on our pair, and Lisa Tuktamysheva is in very good shape. I think she and Sofia Samodurova will be able to show their best skating. We can maybe count on moving up one spot or at least to hold our position.”

Team France (59 points)

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In their “Uninvited” routine, Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres produced a solid triple twist, but then James put a hand down on the side-by-side triple toes and the team later lost sync on the side-by-side flying camel change spin. The throw triple flip was good and they earned a level 4 on the steps and lift to finish second with 73.48 points.

Olympic silver medalists Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron scored yet another season’s best, breaking the record score for the free dance with 135.82 points for first place, as well as the Total Score (223.13). The lowest GOE received were two +3s, the rest being +4 and +5 across the board. All elements, including the twizzles, lifts, and steps were graded a level 4 in their moving routine to “Duet” and “Sunday Afternoon” by Rachael Yamagata.

Kevin Aymoz had two falls, a quad toe and triple Lutz-Euler-triple Salchow, in his routine to “In This Shirt.” The French national champion also stepped out of triple flip, but otherwise landed two triple Axels and showed strong level 4 spins and footwork. He finished 10th in the free skate (153.83) and ninth overall (239.05).

Adam Siao Him Fa also had two falls, one on quad Salchow and another on a triple Lutz-Euler-triple Salchow. The 2018 JGP Armenian champion struggled on several other jumps in his routine to “Take Me to Church” to finish 12th in the free skate (132.11) and overall (204.67).

Team Canada (54 points)

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Canadian champions Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro came in fourth in the short with 68.38 points with their expressive routine to “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.” The triple twist had a bit of messy catch and Marinaro held on to the landing of his triple toe. Moore-Towers had a slight hand down on the throw triple loop and there were some sync issues in the side-by-side change combination spin, but the lift and footwork were graded a level 4.

Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje earned a new season’s best of 124.18 for fourth place after their lyrical free dance “S.O.S. d’un terrien en détresse” which featured strong1 level 4 lifts and twizzles, however, the one-foot steps were graded level 2 and 3. The 2019 Four Continents silver medalists also received many positive GOEs and rose from fifth to fourth overall with 203.78 points.

Nam Nguyen doubled his opening quad toe, but otherwise had one of his best free skates of the season. His routine to La La Land featured a quad Salchow-triple toe, quad Salchow, and five more triple jumps. The Canadian national champions got a level 2 on his footwork and flying sit spin, but he still managed a new season’s best of 164.60 for seventh in the free skate and overall (251.97).

Keegan Messing finished fourth in the free skate (178.04) and sixth overall (257.79) after his upbeat “Charlie Chaplin” routine. The 2018 Nebelhorn Trophy champion landed a quad toe as well as 7 solid triple jumps, earning high GOES along the way. All elements received a level 4 except for the footwork (level 2).

Team Italy (52 points)

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Nicole Della Monica and Matteo Guarise placed third in the short program with 69.77 points. Guarise had to hang onto the landing of the side-by-side triple Salchows in which Della Monica slightly bumped into him on her flow out. She had a slight touch down on the throw triple loop, but the 2018 Rostelecom Cup and Helsinki silver medalists were otherwise solid in their routine to “Never Tear Us Apart” by Joe Cocker.

Performing to music from La La Land, Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri earned level 4 on all elements except for the one-step footwork (level 2 and 3). The 2019 European bronze medalists earned a new season’s best of 122.29 for fifth place in the free dance and overall (202.54).

Matteo Rizzo landed a quad toe along with seven other jumps, but doubled his last jump, a triple Lutz, in his otherwise flawless routine to music by Queen. The 2019 Winter Universiade champion also displayed level 4 spins and footwork, earning a season’s best of 172.89 for fifth place in the free skate and fourth overall (260.53).

Daniel Grassl finished 11th in the free skate (148.68) and overall (228.36). The 2019 World Junior bronze medalist landed a quad loop, but took a fall on a quad Lutz and struggled with several other jumps. However, he displayed good spins and footwork in his routine to music by Philip Glass.