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Team Japan vaults into lead at World Team Trophy

Hanyu rebounds to help host country take control; Team USA sits second
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Yuzuru Hanyu finished first in the men's free skate to help Team Japan move into sole possession of first place at the World Team Trophy. -Getty Images

Team Japan took the lead on the second day of competition at the 2017 World Team Trophy in Tokyo. The host country has 81 points, three more than second-place Team USA and seven more than third-place Team Russia.

Yuzuru Hanyu and Shoma Uno strengthened their team's standing by finishing first and second, respectively, in the men's free skate. Skating to "Hope and Legacy," Hanyu pulled off a quad loop, quad salchow-triple toe, quad toe and quad toe-half loop-triple salchow combination on his way to scoring 200.49 points. Uno landed a quad loop and quad toe, and earned 198.49 points for his performance.

"I am amazed at how Yuzuru and Shoma did," team captain Kana Muramoto said. "Our ladies, Mai [Mihara] and Wakaba [Higuchi], had personal-best scores in the short program (yesterday) and, hopefully, continue on with their good momentum. Our pairs team couldn't skate their free skate at worlds and will bring their game tomorrow.

"I think we have a good chance of winning, so I'm excited."

Team USA's highest-scoring members Friday were Madison Chock and Evan Bates, who took second place in the free dance. Their performance to "Under Pressure" was strong, the only glitch coming when he stumbled briefly during a step sequence.

Nathan Chen and Jason Brown ranked fourth and sixth, respectively, in the men's free skate. Chen landed three clean quads and scored 185.24 points, while Brown earned a score of 179.35. Pairs skaters Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc finished fifth in the short with 59.57 points.

"I'm very pleased with how everyone performed today," team captain Wagner said. "I think tomorrow is going to be a nailbiter. Team USA is in fighting position to take the title for the fourth time."

Russia was hoping for more, especially in the pairs, but Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov finished only fourth in the short program, as she fell on the triple toe and the throw triple loop. Mikhail Kolyada placed fifth in the men's free skate with a solid performance that garnered 184.04 points, while Maxim Kovtun struggled to a 10th-place finish.

"We are glad that we were able to hold onto the top three, although the results were not so good," team captain Ekaterina Bobrova noted. "It is useless to calculate anything now, because tomorrow everything can completely change."

On the strength of Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje winning the free dance and Patrick Chan's third-place finish in the men's free skate, Team Canada pulled up from fifth to fourth, and has now 67 points.

Team China is fifth with 59 points, while Team France (46 points) remained in sixth.