Tuesday, 17/7/2018 | : : UTC-7
Skate Today

Innaugaural Team Trophy Taps Top Talent

One million dollars is up for grabs here in Tokyo as the top six teams in the World go head to head this week in the inaugural event of the World Team Trophy.

The event, which was designed by the ISU as a team competition, qualified teams based on a combination of results from the most recent World and Junior World Championships, the Junior and Senior Grand Prix series, and this year’s Four Continents and European Championships.

“One of the motives behind this team competition is to encourage member federations to create skaters in all disciplines,” ISU President Ottavio Cinquanta explained during the competition’s announcement last year in Gothenburg.

The qualifiers in this year’s trophy are Canada, China, France, Japan, Russia and the USA. All countries have sent their elite competitors to this competition.

Each of the teams competing here at Yoyogi stadium consist of two men, two ladies, one pair and one ice dance team. The single skaters will perform a short and free program with the top placing team earning twelve points and the second place competitor eleven, and third ten, right down to the last place finisher earning one point. The pair teams will also execute a short and free program with the top ranked pair earning twelve points and the bottom ranked earning seven. The dancers will perform both their original and free dance. The scoring remains the same as with the pair teams. At the end of the competition, the team who accumulates the most points wins the title and a prize of 200,000.00 USD. The second place team earns a pay check of 170,000.00 and third 160,000.00, etc. down to sixth place taking home 130,000.00. This one million dollar pot is the largest amount of money ever awarded at an ISU competition.

The Canadian contingent qualified as the second ranked team and is led by two silver medalists from the recent World Championships – Patrick Chan and Joannie Rochette, along with World bronze medalist Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. 2008 World bronze medalists Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison are hoping for the two clean skates that eluded them in Los Angeles. Canadian silver medalists Cynthia Phaneuf and Vaughn Chipeur round out the Canadian squad competing here in Japan.

The Chinese team qualified sixth and will be headlined by Olympic Silver medalists Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang. They will be joined by Junior Worlds sixth place finisher Chao Yang, Chinese Champion Jialiang Wu, Three time Chinese Champion Yan Liu, 2006 Chinese Champion Binshu Xu, and 2007 Chinese Champions Xintong Huang/Xun Zheng.

The French, enter the event as the fifth qualifier and feature World Bronze medalist Brian Joubert and Junior Grand Prix Champion Florent Amodio. Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat will be looking to improve on their fifth place finish at the World Championships in March, and both Joubert and Amodio hope to rebound from a disappointing World Championship and Junior World Championship performances as well. They will be joined by pair skaters Vanessa James/Yannick Bonheur and 2009 French Champion Candice Didier and 2008 French Champion Gwendoline Didier.

The hometown crowd is sure to be on hand and Japan will showcase some of its strongest figure skaters in the World. The team qualified in the third spot for this championship and will include World class names like Grand Prix Champion Mao Asada, 2007World Champion Miki Ando, Grand Prix silver medalist Takihiko Kozuka and Japanese Champion Nobunari Oda. 2008 World Champion Mao Asada who is hoping to recoup from a disappointing fourth place finish in Los Angeles. Ice dancers Cathy Reed/Chris Reed and Junior Grand Prix finalists Narumi Takahashi/Mervyn Tran will be on hand to round out the field.

Russian ice dancers and World Champions Oksana Domnina and Maxsim Shabalin will stay side-lined for this competition giving Shabalin’s knee injury a well-needed rest. Instead European Champions Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski will join World bronze medalists Yuko Kavaguti/Alexander Smirnov and World Junior Champion Alena Leonova to headline the Russian team. The team will include Russian National Champion Sergei Voronov and Konstantin Menshov who was a late replacement for Andre Lutai. Lutai withdrew due to injury. Russian bronze medalist Katarina Gerboldt will also compete.

Qualifying in the top spot the Americans will send a star-studded field to lead the US charge for a victory here in Tokyo. The team will be led by newly crowned World Champion Evan Lysacek and World silver Medalists Tanith Belbin/Benjamin Agosto. They will be joined by Grand Prix Champion Jeremy Abbott, World Junior silver medalist Caroline Zhang, and 2008 Junior World Champion Rachael Flatt –who placed a respectable fifth in her World Championship debut. Newly crowned national pair silver medalists Caydee Denny/Jeremy Barrett hope to gain additional experience.

The team captains for this competition are as follows:

Canada – Scott Moir

China – Hao Zhang

France – Brian Joubert

Japan – Nobunari Oda

Russia – Jana Khoklova

USA – Evan Lysacek

The festivities get underway Thursday with the original dance, followed by the men’s and ladies short program.

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