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U.S., Japan prepare for head-to-head match

Weir leads American team into Yokohama

2007 world champion Miki Ando leads the Japanese team against the Americans.
2007 world champion Miki Ando leads the Japanese team against the Americans. (Getty Images)

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(10/05/2007) - The 2007 International Counter Match, featuring top-level figure skaters from the United States and Japan, will take place in Yokohama, Japan, on Oct. 6. The event will feature team competitions in a head-to-head format, with the U.S. taking on Japan in both ladies and men. The event opens with the men's competition.

Scheduled to headline the U.S. team at the Shin-Yokohama Skate Center, in Yokohama City, are three-time U.S. champion Johnny Weir, 2007 world junior champion Caroline Zhang and 2007 world junior silver medalist Mirai Nagasu.

Zhang and Nagasu's U.S. teammates in Yokohama will be 2006 Nebelhorn Trophy champion Bebe Liang and 2006 U.S. junior silver medalist Rachael Flatt. Joining Weir on the men's team will be 2007 U.S. silver medalist Ryan Bradley, 2007 Four Continents bronze medalist Jeremy Abbott and 2007 world junior champion Stephen Carriere.

The Japanese men's team will consist of 2007 world silver medalist Daisuke Takahashi, Yasuharu Nanri, Kensuke Nakaniwa and Tatsuki Machida. They will be joined by 2007 world champion Miki Ando, 2007 world silver medalist Mao Asada, 2006 world silver medalist Fumie Suguri and Rumi Suizu for the ladies. Skaters are subject to change.

The format of the event calls for each team to compete head to head under the international judging system, with the winning team determined by point accumulation. In ladies, Team USA and Team Japan will consist of four individuals, two of whom will perform a free skate, with the remaining two team members performing a short program.

The free skate portion will consist of one junior- and one senior-level skater. The two competitors in the short program will both be senior-level skaters. (The men's competition will consist of the same format.) Nagasu and Carriere are designated as the junior-level skaters for the U.S. in this event. Suizu and Machida will represent Japan on the junior level. An exhibition performance will take place Oct. 7 at the Shin-Yokohama Skate Center.

Total prize money at the event is $240,000. Each first-place team will win $80,000 ($20,000 per skater), while the second-place team wins $40,000 ($10,000 per skater).