Friday, 20/7/2018 | : : UTC-7
Skate Today

Americans Widen Lead at World Team Trophy

On day two of the World Team Trophy the Americans held off a surge by the Canadians and the Japanese to remain in the top spot by six points. Rachel Flatt, who now had adorned herself with red, white and blue pom-poms, cheered the US squad to victory on day two. Olympic silver medalist Ben Agosto played a air guitar and Team USA delivered a rather unique dance in the kiss and cry to support their teammates. Caydee Denny and Jeremy Barrett led the Americans with yet another strong performance this season and overtook 2008 World bronze medalists Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison of Canada. Team leader Evan Lysacek proved why he is the World Champion with another stunning performance. Jeremy Abbott continues to struggle with the timing of his jumps but the Grand Prix Champion delivered an elegant program to “Eight Seasons” by G. Kramer and K. Baltica. His opening jump a quad toe loop was great. Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto provided the audience with another powerful free dance to “Tosca” by Puccini. The Americans walked away with a total of 59 points to hold their overnight lead.

“I’m very proud of our team,” said U.S. Captain Evan Lysacek. “I have to thank my very strong and consistent teammates for the momentum they created and the motivation they gave me. My team, they have many props and toys, and they are using them wisely. We’re trying to enjoy this competition and have fun as a team. Sometimes we get a little crazy. We are not the machines that some people think we are. I think it’s cool that my team is being so enthusiastic, and I think that includes our team leaders and judges. We are really bonded here.

I think this competition is a good example of not just the depth we have in each discipline in the U.S. respectively, but the consistency we have in our skaters,” Lysacek added. “We have a strong team here, but it goes even deeper than that at home. It’s something we are excited to show the world, and we were eager to come out and show them regardless of what kind of season we had. One of the most important characteristics of an elite athlete is to be able to adapt to circumstances and situations. I think it’s cool that we are cheering on our team. When I’m watching my teammates I’m surprised on how nervous I get watching them. It doesn’t feel like a fun game kind of thing — it feels like a real competition. “

Under the careful guidance of Team Captain Scott Moir Team Canada overtook the Japanese by a slim margin of one-point in another exciting day at the World Team Trophy. The Canadians cannot slack off as the Japanese team is breathing down their necks with strong skaters like Mao Asada and Miki Ando in their arsenal. Canadians Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison and Joannie Rochette will have to be in top form to eclipse the Americans and hold off the Japanese on day 3.

World bronze medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir led the Canadians with a second place free dance, but reported it was one of the most difficult performance of the season. Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison struggled and settled for a fourth place showing in the short program. Two-time Canadian Champion Patrick Chan rallied to finish in fourth overall. Vaughn Chipeur maintained his sixth place standing with a strong performance. The Canadians are currently in second place with 53 points. Moir vowed to take aim at the “American Powerhouse” on day three.

“Team Canada is very pleased with how today went, obviously we moved up a spot,” Team Captain Scott Moir stated. That’s extremely exciting. I think a lot of that is due to the men. They were determined to come out and have a strong skate today and kind of climbed the ladder a bit up into the top six. I think they will motivate us for skates tomorrow and hopefully getting closer to the powerhouse of the American team. I think the Canadian team is such a tightly knit crew, when we get into the Kiss & Cry in front of the camera we try to relax a bit and have fun and kind of make fun of each other. That is where a lot of our dances come from. We didn’t realize that the Americans would come so prepared. Had we known, the Canadians probably would have brought hockey sticks, maple syrup and mountie outfits. At the next World Team Trophy you’ll see that.“

“Tessa (Virtue) and Patrick (Chan) were saying that sitting around and watching the other teams is a lot of fun, but at the same time it feels kind of like a show, and then you have to go out there and kind of get going,” Moir added. “They were finding it hard to get up and get nervous to compete. I was kind of at the other end of the spectrum where I didn’t want to let our team down, and I wanted to skate as good as I could and I was really kind of shaky.”

Team Captain Nobunari Oda began to rally the troops and the Japanese showed up with some kiss-n-cry antics of their own. Adorned in masks, the Japanese appeared in the kiss-n-cry to support their compatriots. The Japanese slid behind the Canadians but Oda remained optimistic about tomorrow’s outcome. Junior Grand Prix Finalists Narumi Takahashi and Mervin Tran got some valuable experience skating with the World’s best. Asada smashed through to a new personal best by over six points and teammate Mike Ando settled for third place — after losing a spot on a tie-breaker with Canadian Joannie Rochette. Oda himself produced a strong skate and pulled up to third place overall. Compatriot Takahiko Kozuka fought against a neck injury to rise from tenth spot to eighth overall — after placing seventh in the free skate. The Japanese are third with 52 points.

“We didn’t really know what to do (in the Kiss & Cry). We were looking at the French Team and the American team, and they had these things, Team Captain Oda said. “We also wanted to do something, so we brought the masks. It seems there is a new rivalry in the Kiss & Cry. I will go out and buy more props in the discount store.

To fight with the team is different than at Worlds. It’s a new experience for me,” Oda added. “For being the captain I can only encourage everybody. There is fun in this competition, but we are serious about this.“

Sitting in a distant fourth place 2007 World Champion Brian Joubert and Ice dancers Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat headed a failed attempt to challenge the top teams. Joubert slid behind American Evan Lysacek losing one point to the Americans. Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat leap-frogged Russians Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski and ended the competition in third place. Junior Grand Prix Champion Florent Amodio slid from seventh to tenth overall despite an entertaining free skate.

Team Russia made a move to close the gap to one-point between them and Team France. Team Captain Jana Khokhlova waved flags jumped and screamed for her teammates. Russians Yuko Kavaguti/Alexander Smirnov,Sergei Voronov and Alena Leonova gave strong performances to propel their team to a new height. Khokhlova and Novitski appeared disappointed when they realized they slid behind the French. The Russians enter day three with 36 points.

The Chinese rallied with a new team spirit and got so into the festivities they broke into the USA booth and were caught on camera playing with the Americans paraphernalia. Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang gave a stellar performance to claim the top spot in the pairs short program. They ended day two with 33 points.

Olympic silver medalists and Grand Prix silver medalists Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang surged to the lead in the Pairs short program with a beautiful performance to “Riding on the Wings of Songs” by Felix Mendelssohn that earned the duo 70.42 points.

Their first element – a level three triple Lutz twist – was near-perfect and four of the judges agreed punching in Grades of Execution (GOE) at the maximum +3. It was followed by a huge throw triple loop and a triple Salchow; as well as four level four non-jumping elements.

They were the class of the field and picked up twelve well-needed points for the Chinese team.

“I’m very happy that we got a new season’s best score,” Hao said smiling. “It gives us confidence that we can still progress and achieve higher scores in the future. We are tired, but we are in high spirits. All the members on our team tried their best and their scores are very good so far. We have one day more, and I believe they will try even harder and achieve better scores.”

Yuko Kavaguti returns to Japan as a Russian citizen and competed with partner Alexander Smirnov on behalf of the Russian team. Kavaguti recently gave up her Japanese citizenship in favor of competing in the upcoming Olympic Games. It is a requirement that to compete in the games you must be a citizen of the country you represent. Her name was changed from the Japanese to Russian spelling of Kawaguchi.

Skating to “The Swan” by Camille Saint-Sains, the World bronze medalists cinched the second spot despite stumbling out and putting a hand down on their opening side-by-side triple toeloop and having a slight collision on the triple Lutz twist.

“I didn’t realize I was that nervous,” Kavaguti admitted. “We just tried too hard. The audience helped me. Tomorrow I want the Japanese fans to enjoy our performance.”

Their Russian teammates went wild when the couple rocked a gorgeous throw triple loop and executed fabulous spins and footwork. Her flexibility and their innovative lifts and spirals are breathtaking.

The World bronze medalists picked up 65.08 points and eleven points for their team.

“Except for the fall it was still good, we got a level four on all our elements but the twist which was level two. It is somehow hard to jump on this ice. This morning it was me who fell, I didn’t land one jump. We’ll hope to do better tomorrow in the Free Skate.”

The American team cheered as Caydee Denny and Jeremy Barrett gave an energetic performance to “Palladio” by Silent Nick and “Summer Haze” by Vanessa Mae. That placed the team in third place in this phase of the competition with 56.58 points.

Except for a step-out on a triple toe, the Americans produced a strong program which pocketed 10 points in the Americans bank. Denny performed despite struggling with tendonitis in her foot.

“It was fun out there,” Denny exclaimed. “This is a different competition. “The tendonitis is not a big deal. It’s fine. That is not the reason I stumbled. It didn’t really affect me.”

They hit their opening triple twist and followed with a strong throw triple Lutz. They received a level four on the spiral step sequence, pair combination spin and overhead lift to pick up ten points for the American team.

“We’ve made a lot of improvements since Worlds, like the side-by-side spins. The speed was a lot better,” Barrett added. “That’s the first one she has missed all year, so we’ll let it slide,” he added about the step-out on the triple toe. “We came here wanting to skate our best, but it’s less stress and more fun. We will keep everything pretty much the same with our training. It has worked for us so far. We can compete with the top teams technically. Now we need to work on the components.”

Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison settled for fourth place after a disappointing performance to “Fix You” by Coldplay.

Dube took a tumble on the opening triple Salchow, collided on the triple twist, and she fell out of the flying change foot combination spin.

“That doesn’t happen too often,” Davison said of the fall on the spin. “Mistakes happen. This whole year has been a big learning experience for us. We just have to learn every time we are out there, any time we make a mistake we’re going to learn a lot from it. There was no injury, no illness; we’re actually both still very healthy, which is encouraging. The short program wasn’t the best all year long; we had one really good one, at Four Continents. We take from it what we can do to move forward.”

The duo packed away 55.44 points and enters the free skate in fourth place.

Vanessa James/Yannick Bonheur currently sit fifth after a messy short program which earned the duo a segment score of 46.20 points and Narumi Takahashi/Mervin Tran are currently in sixth place with 43.00 points.

In the dance event World silver medalists Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto maintained their overnight lead to claim the twelve point maximum for the American team.

The Americans wowed the crowd with an expressive routine that was highlighted by perfectly matched synchronized twizzles and a strong rotational lift which earned +2 GOE’s from five of the nine judges. The straight line to curve lift was extremely impressive and earned the Americans GOE’s as high as +3. They skated with intensity and emotion and delivered a powerful presentation to “Tosca” by Puccini. Their elements were awarded all level four’s except for the synchronized twizzles and the diagonal step sequence which were level three.

“It felt a little more fulfilling (than at the World Chmpionships) just because it felt like we were ready to go for it. At Worlds, we were holding back a bit,” Agosto told the press. “But here it flowed better. We have to take that with us and try to always do that, because that is the key. We are really looking forward to the creative process for our new programs. It will be exciting to see what we will come up with.”

They were awarded 98.71 points for the free dance and captured the top spot with an overall score of 162.98 points.

“I think the performance was better than at Worlds, because we were thinking less about it. I don’t think we got all the levels that we did at Worlds, in the footwork, on the diagonal,” Belbin explained. “A few of the levels are maybe not as strong, but it was better overall.”

World bronze medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir produced a powerful and daring free dance featuring risky moves like a no hands straight line lift where Tessa balances herself on Scott’s back. Their serpentine lift was sensational and displayed quick and unusual changes of position.

Skating an intense program to music by Pink Floyd the Canadians exhibited great speed and deep edges but had slight difficulties on the synchronized twizzles. Their final lift – a rotational lift was so well-executed they earned eight +2 GOE’s from the judges and the ninth awarded a +3.

While the performance was strong the Canadians admitted it wasn’t their best.

“It was one of our harder ones that we’ve had to do in our career, but fun, nevertheless,” Moir stated. “We felt like we executed the elements. We really worked together and enjoyed it. “

They received 95.73 points for the free dance and maintained their eleven points for the Canadian team after they finished second overall with 156.71 points.

“It was a tough season, but we’re just so pleased to have gone through it,” Virtue stated. “I think we’re going to be so much stronger and so much better next year because of it. I think in an Olympic year there is so much pressure to make the programs special. We’ve been thinking about it, but nothing set in stone yet.”

For the free dance, Pechalat and Bourzat opted for a lively and different circus routine filled with fun and inventive choreography that captured the essence of the music.

The French excited the crowd when they performed their first element — a level four curve lift. The judges were also impressed and awarded +2 GOE’s from seven of the nine judges. They skated aggressively and featured six level four elements which included four lifts, a combination spin and the synchronized twizzle sequence. The circular step sequence and diagonal steps earned only level three and received lower GOE’s as well.

Teammates Brian Joubert and Florent Amodio sat side-lined whistling and clapping to propel them along.

“It was a real pleasure to skate here because the Japanese audience is reacting very well. We really liked our free dance this season, and we are disappointed to leave it behind,” Bourzat confessed. “We told ourselves, it is the last performance of the season, let’s just go for it, we have to give everything.”

The French pulled up to third place with a free dance worth 93.37 points and finished the competition third overall with an event total of 150.63 points.

The Russians Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski dropped one spot after their free dance to “Rhapsody on a Theme” by Paganini.

The Muscovites had the highest technical difficulty but suffered on the execution. They managed eight level four elements leaving only the circular step sequence as level three. They were shaky on the synchronized twizzles but the duo nailed a spectacular straight line to rotational lift which earned eight +2 GOE’s for that element. The rotational lift appeared quite difficult and displayed quick changes of position as well.

Novitski fell during their closing pose.

“Maybe we gave it too much, because we really wanted to skate well. It was more difficult to skate here than at Worlds, physically, but basically it wasn’t too hard, and we felt strong,” Khokhlova replied. “We felt support from the crowd and our team was very supportive, too. It was a different performance, expecially the end!”

The European Champions racked up 90.87 point for the free dance and 149.45 points overall for a fourth place finish.

Hometown favorites Cathy Reed and Chris Reed put out a season’s best free dance which featured better attack and increased difficulty. The brother and sister team electrified the audience with their performance. They received level four on seven elements en route to a fifth place finish with 75.43 points.

Xintong Huang/Xun Zheng finished sixth overall with 66.14 points for the free dance and an event total of 110.40 points.

Day 2 wrapped up with the men’s free skate and World Champion Evan Lysacek rallied to first place with a glorious performance to “Rhapsody in Blue” by George Gershwin.

The World Champion skated like a man on a mission. His opening triple Lutz/triple toe combination was steady-as-a rock and the triple Axel, triple Salchow, and solo triple Lutz were good as well. On his triple Axel/double toe combination the triple Axel received a downgrade as did the final element is his triple flip/double toe/double loop combination. As he entered his final straight-line step sequence the American picked up steam and gave it his all. His final element –a change foot combination spin – earned him GOE’s as high as +3 for that element.

“I have to heal my foot (from a stress fracture he sustained prior to the World Championships) It was killing me today,” Lysacek told Skate Today. “I need to get that healed and it’s kind of a nuisance now.”

The American posted 154.86 points for his free skate and captured first place with an overall score of 238.56 points.

“I really changed my technique this season,” the 24-year-old added. “It takes a bit longer because I’m not so young anymore, I’m not old, but I’m not 17 either. It took some time to teach me the tricks. For my nationals, I wasn’t quite confident with my technique. But after nationals I started to get my legs under me and I got my technique solid. I could add choreography as the technique became more stable. That is kind of how the season progressed for me.”

2007 World Champion Brian Joubert shut the door on a rather tough season for the Frenchman.

“Actually the past two seasons have been rather unsuccessful for me,” the 24-year old from Poitiers stated. “That is why I got a new coach, because I was not happy. I was not having fun anymore, and I was training alone on the ice and he would leave. Next season is a most important season for me and I want to have the best team around me,” he added about his coaching change from Jean-Christophe Simond to Laurent Depouily. “I have not had much time to train for this competition with my new coach since I was on the French tour, since I got back from Worlds.”

Skating to the soundtracks “Matrix Reloaded” and “Requiem of a Dream” the reigning World bronze medalist short-circuited the audience with his charm, dazzling steps, and a stellar quad toe. He ran into problems on the quad Salchow popping it into a double and then struggled on the triple Axel/triple toe that followed. He rebounded with a strong triple Salchow and a triple Axel/double toe combination before putting a hand down on a triple Lutz. He then produced a triple loop and a triple flip/triple toe combination, but received an edge call on the triple flip. His non-jumping elements were not as strong as the other top men receiving a level three on the change foot sit spin, a level two on the change foot combination spin and a level one on the flying sit spin. His straight-line steps were called level two and the circular steps were level three.

Despite the mistakes, his chemistry with the audience cannot be denied. He placed third in the free skate with 151.70 points but remained second overall with an event score of 237.09 points.

Hometown boy Nobunari Oda maintained his overnight placement of third despite placing fourth in the free skate with 149.90 points.

A sea of flags were waving as the 22-year-old took to the ice for his “Warsaw Concerto” free program. He went for the quad toe on his quad toe/triple toe combination that he landed for the first time at the World Championships last month in Los Angeles. Unfortunately the combination failed tonight and the Japanese fell to the ice on the opening jump. He quickly recouped to nail an additional seven triple jumps including two triple Axels and a triple Lutz.

“I didn’t have any speed today,” Nobunari said of his performance. “I landed the quad in the six minute warm up, so I was trying to get myself together, but I fell this time. It will be the goal for the next season. I think my best performance this season was at Worlds, but my score wasn’t so high. For next year, I want to improve my components to get over seven.”

He picked up 149.90 points for the free skate and a total score of 229.25 points to finish third.

It was not the best of competitions for Canada’s Patrick Chan who pulled up to fourth after placing ninth in the short program with an event total of 217.98 points..

Chan popped his opening triple Axel into a double, fell on a planned triple Axel/double toe combination and turned out in between a triple Lutz/double toe combination. The Four Continents Champion has had a stellar season with a win at Four Continents and winning a silver medal at the World Championships in March.

His free skate to “Selections of Music by Rachmaninoff” highlighted his strong basic skating skills, well-executed spins and wonderful footwork. He placed second in the free skate behind Lysacek with a total of 151.85 points for his efforts.

“I think this was a good experience. After the short program I was unhappy I wasn’t doing well. At the end before the long, I said, I’ll probably be in this situation again and if I do a good long I can make up for it,” Chan explained. “As far as next season I’m keeping one my programs, but I am not telling which one. It’s secret.”

American Jeremy Abbott placed fifth overall with 205.05 points. The American Champion nailed his opening quad toe and triple flip before popping his third jump – a planned triple Axel into a single. He appeared refocused landing a triple flip before popping a planned triple Axel/triple toe into a single Axel/double toe combination and attempting a triple Lutz/triple toe/double toe but the triple Lutz was cheated. He did manage a solo triple loop, but then received a second downgrade on another triple Axel attempt.

The Cup of China Champion appeared frustrated but was consoled by his compatriots on the American team.

“I don’t know what happened,” Jeremy said shrugging his shoulders. “I landed the quad– and it felt really strong. I did it because, at this point, I felt like I really neede to let everyone know that I’ve got the jump and I can do it. After that, I’m not sure what happened with the popped Axels — I never do that.”

“It’s been an amazing event,” The Grand Prix Champion stated. ” It’s unusual to be sitting in the stands cheering on someone who is supposed to be your competitor, but it’s really cool that we can do that here. I had my fingers crossed for every jump Evan did because the better he does, the more points we get as a team — and that’s great.”

Canadian silver medalist Vaughn Chipeur did his team proud when he executed a high energy free skate to “Broken Sorrow” and “First Impressions” which earned him an event total of 198.91 points. He held off a challenge by Russia’s Sergei Voronov to sustain sixth place. He skated with great speed and delivered strong elements. His jumps which included two triple Axels and two triple Lutz’s were huge and seemed to float through the air.

He picked up 127.66 points for his free skate to finish sixth overall.

Sergei Voronov dropped to seventh overall with 196.70 points after he put a hand down on a triple Axel/triple toe combination, popped and fell on a planned triple loop and struggled on a planned triple toe/double toe/double loop combination.

“I ran out of strenghth,” the Russian Champion stated. Well, the fall on the loop — falls happen to everyone. But I am happy I fought through the end. I don’t really understand my score, though. Yes, I should skate better, But still, I’m not only upset with myself but also with the judges. It seems that these days the quad isn’t worhg so much anymore and you ask yourself if you should put it into the program. But this is Men’s figure skating, and I think a quad should be in the arsenal.”

Takahiko Kozuka displayed an dramatic performance to Romeo and Juliet placing seventh in the free skate and eighth overall with 190.93 points.

“I thought I did better than yesterday there was a little miss but tat was OK. The score wasn’t as high as I thought.”

Jialang Wu placed ninth overall with 116.96 points and Florent Amodio dropped to the tenth spot overall with a free skate score of 112.47 points. Chao Yang of China finished ninth in the free skate but eleventh overall with 177.94 points and Konstantin Menshov of Russia was twelfth overall with 165.21 points.

The TeamTrophy concludes tomorrow with the Pair’s Free and Ladies Free programs.

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