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Team Europe narrowly claims third Japan Open title

Medvedeva secures top ladies score; Fernández grabs highest men's mark
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Spain's Javier Fernández helped Europe capture the 2017 Japan Open team title with a strong free skate Saturday in Saitama. -Getty Images

Powered by the skating of Spain's Javier Fernández and Russian superstar Evgenia Medvedeva, skaters from Europe were able to squeak out a victory over their Japanese foes Saturday at the 2017 Japan Open in Saitama, Japan. Fernández earned the top score in the men's free skate, finishing ahead of Team North America's Nathan Chen, while Medvedeva skated to the highest score in the ladies field.


For the second year in a row, Medvedeva placed herself atop the ladies standings when it was all said and done. Performing her free skate to music by George Winston, Ludovico Einaudi and Max Richter, the two-time reigning world champion secured 152.08 points to help position Team Europe for another run at gold.

The Russian was awarded 11.20 points for her opening triple flip-triple toe combination, and the additional mark of 11.47 she received for a triple salchow-triple toe aided in her ability to claim the winning position in the field.

Looking to guide Team Japan to its ninth title in the 12-year history of the event, Mai Mihara -- who landed a triple lutz-triple toe in her program -- finished second to Medvedeva by recording a solid 147.83 points for her program, while Russia's Alina Zagitova joined the top three with a mark of 145.28.

Team Japan's Marin Honda (133.41 points) completed the segment in fifth place, while the North American duo of Mirai Nagasu (134.69) and Karen Chen (116.32) finished fourth and sixth, respectively.


Fernández is no stranger to the event in Japan, and after finishing second in the men's standings the past three seasons, the Spaniard catapulted himself to the top with a sound performance Saturday.

By recording 189.47 points, Fernández -- who was awarded 11.44 points for his program-opening quadruple toe and an extra 13.55 for a quadruple salchow -- distanced himself from the remaining five skaters in the field, while helping Team Europe add to its overall total. His European teammate, Alexei Bychenko of Israel, finished sixth in the segment with 128.52 points.

Despite picking up 15.01 points for his quadruple lutz-double toe combination, Chen landed second in his Japan Open debut with 178.46 points. Japan's Shoma Uno -- who earned the top men's score at this event the past two seasons -- finished third with 175.45 points. He received an even 14.00 points for an opening quadruple loop.

The second member of Team Japan in the men's competition, Nobunari Oda, wound up fourth in the standings with 158.24 points, while North America's Jeremy Abbott was fifth with a mark of 143.48.

Final Team Standings

Team Europe - 615.35
Team Japan - 614.93
Team North America - 572.95