The 2019 ISU World Team Trophy concluded on Saturday with the Pairs’ and Ladies’ Free Skate in Fukuoka, Japan. Team USA placed first with a total of 117 points, followed by Team Japan (104) and Team Russia (102). It was the fourth time Team USA has taken gold in the six times the event has taken place. Team Japan won last year in Tokyo.
Team USA (117 points)
Performing to music from the W.E.soundtrack, Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc produced a triple twist, throw triple flip and throw triple Salchow. However, he fell on the opening side-by-side triple loops and both skaters struggled on the side-by-side triple Salchow-double toe loop-double loops. Otherwise, the 2019 U.S. national champions delivered strong spins and lifts, and finished fifth in the free skate (125.24) and overall (192.15).
Bradie Tennell topped all of her season’s best at this event, finishing second in the free skate (150.83) and overall (225.64) points after her performance to “Romeo and Juliet.” The 2018 Internationaux de France bronze medalist was solid, landing a total of seven triple jumps, including two triple Lutz-triple toe combos, while displaying level 4 spins and footwork.
Mariah Bell fell on an underrotated triple loop and received edge calls on both triple Lutzes, but was otherwise clean in her flowing routine to The Piano, which featured level 4 spins and footwork. The 2018 Golden Spin bronze medalist finished sixth (135.17) in the free skate and overall (206.06).
“This was an extremely successful event for Team USA,” said team captain Madison Hubbell. “Everyone had beautiful performances including today, the highlight of course being Bradie Tennell’s season’s best, an absolutely great way to finish the event for us. We were lucky enough to send all of our best skaters and highest ranked skaters to this competition. We feel like it is a priceless opportunity to practice for the team event in Beijing (2022 Olympic Winter Games).”
“At the Olympics, they should allow two entries for all of the events, because I think there are many teams with an abundant amount of talented skaters,” Hubbell said when asked about the format. “I know that my federation would have loved to put two more skaters on that team and give them the chance to come home with a medal. That is something I would like them to consider for Beijing.”
Team Japan (104 points)
Riku Miura and Shoya Ichihashi finished sixth in the free skate with a new season’s best of 92.98 after their performance to “Warsaw Concerto” and were sixth overall (137.91). Two of their lifts were graded a level 4, as was the combination spin, but there was a fall on the side-by-side double Axels and the back end of the triple toe-double toes was called underrotated.
Rika Kihira finished fifth in the free skate (138.37) and fourth overall (222.34) after underrotating and falling on both her opening triple Axel and the back end of a triple Lutz-triple toe. Nevertheless, the 2019 Four Continents champion still showed spectacular level 4 spins and footwork which garnered many positive GOEs.
Kaori Sakamoto hung onto the landing of a triple flip and triple Lutz (edge call), but pulled through to land four more clean triples. The Japanese national champion also racked up many high GOEs for her level 4 spins and strong footwork, scoring 146.70 for third in the free skate and overall (223.65).
“There is no way to describe fully what we felt as it is the end of the season,” said Team Japan’s captain, Misato Komatsubara. “We wanted to make sure we are able to finish with a big smile and I think we were able to do that. So I’m very proud of all our skaters and I hope to come back to this competition. Everyone on the team is very talented and made huge efforts in their performance.”
Team Russia (102 points)
Natalia Zabiiako and Alexander Enbert produced a dynamic routine to “Toi et Moi” which featured solid side-by-side triple toe-double toe-double loops, but he doubled the jump on the side-by-side triple Salchows. The team was otherwise solid, executing a throw triple flip and a throw triple loop, and showing good spins and footwork throughout. The 2019 World bronze medalists earned 141.32 for second place in the free skate and overall (217.12).
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva was solid throughout the event, earning new personal bests in all segments. The 2018 Skate Canada champion produced a triple Axel and seven other triple jumps in her performance, displaying strong level 4 spins and footwork throughout. She scored 153.89 points for first in the free skate and overall (234.43).
Sofia Samodurova was fourth in the free skate (138.84) and fifth overall (207.45). The 2019 European champion landed seven clean triple jumps and showed quality spins and footwork in her sassy routine to Burlesque.
“It was a great competition day for us,” said team captain Nikita Katsalapov. “Our girls proved that they are real fighters and turned in two excellent free skating performances. Our pair Natalia and Alexander gave a great performance, too. Unfortunately, they were second to the French team, but Vanessa James/Morgan Cipres, were simply the best today. We are glad that we remained in third place. However, it is a little regrettable that we were not able to move up, the gap was only two points. Everyone stuck to their original plan and everything turned out great.”
“Both formats are very interesting,” he added regarding the Olympic team format. “I agree with Madison and I think on our national team we have some more strong skaters that could show very strong results, in pairs and ice dance for example. It would be similar to the Olympic format, I guess. These competitions are different from each other. But in both, the atmosphere is indescribable. You are not responsible only for yourself when you go out on to the ice, but you are fighting together with your team.”
Team France (75 points)
Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres were spectacular in their routine to “Wicked Game” and “The Last Feeling.” The 2019 European champions produced solid side-by-side jumps: triple toe-double toe-double toe-double toe combo and triple Salchows, as well as two strong throw jumps: triple flip and triple Salchow. They racked up many positive GOEs and earned level 4 on most elements to finish first in the free skate with a new season’s best of 152.52 and first (226.00) overall.
Laurine Lecavelier struggled on most of her jumps today, falling on a triple flip and underrotating several others. The 2019 Cup of Tryol champion finished ninth in the free skate (107.71) and 10th overall (170.24). She had a collision with Gabrielle Daleman during the warm up.
Mae-Berenice Meite put a hand down on a triple loop and fell on an underrotated triple Lutz, but otherwise landed a triple Lutz-triple toe and showed good spins and footwork. The French national champion finished eighth in the free skate (114.22) and overall (173.57).
Team Canada (73 points)
Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro scored 131.84 for third place in the free skate and fourth overall (200.22). Their routine to selections from Pink Floyd featured solid side-by-side triple Salchow-double toe-double toes, a throw triple loop, and throw triple Salchow, however, he fell on a triple toe. The 2019 Four Continents silver medalists also displayed good lifts and spins.
Gabrielle Daleman stepped out of triple Lutz and then underrotated and fell on a double Axel-double toe and triple Lutz. She placed 10th in the free skate (107.48) and ninth overall (171.81).
Alaine Chartrand rounded out the ladies, finishing 12th in the free skate (94.91) and overall (147.27). The Canadian champion suffered two falls (loop and Lutz) and underrotated several jumps.
Team Italy (69 points)
Nicole Della Monica and Matteo Guarise opened their “Tristan and Isolde” routine with solid side-by-side triple Salchows, as well as a triple twist and throw triple loop, but she doubled the first jump (and singled the second) in the side-by-side triple toe-double toes. The 2018 Rostelecom Cup and GP Helsinki silver medalists otherwise earned a level 4 on two lifts and spin.
Marina Piredda finished seventh in the free skate (120.22) and overall (180.55). The 2019 Mentor Cup champion doubled a Lutz but was otherwise clean, landing a total of six jumps while showing good level 4 spins.
Roberta Rodeghiero received an edge call on a triple Lutz, but landed a total of five more triple jumps to place 11th (106.64) in the free skate and overall (155.09).