U.S. extends lead at World Team Trophy
|Reigning world champion Evan Lysacek narrowly beat Brian Joubert for the men's title at the ISU World Team Trophy. (Getty Images)|
(04/17/2009) - The inaugural ISU World Team Trophy continued Friday in Tokyo with the the pairs short program, the free dance, and the Men's free skate. Team USA defended their overnight lead and still top the standings with now 59 points. Canada overtook Japan to move up to second place with 53 points. Japan is just one point behind in third place. France (37 points), Russia (36 points) and China (33 points) are currently ranked fourth to sixth. Evan Lysacek and ice dance team Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto claimed victory for the U.S. in their disciplines. Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett finished third in the pairs short. Just three weeks after winning the world title in Los Angeles, Lysacek turned in another strong performance to "Rhapsody in Blue" that featured seven clean triple jumps including a triple Axel and a triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination as well as three Level 4 spins and two Level 3 step sequences. Only the second triple Axel (in combination with a double toe) was cheated and downgraded as was a double loop at the back end of a combination with triple flip and double toe. The reigning world champion picked up 154.86 points (76.06 element score/78.80 program component score) and accumulated 238.56 points to edge out overnight leader Brian Joubert (FRA) by just 1.45 points. "I'm very proud of my team. It extended from yesterday our ladies had great performances and for our pairs to do a great short program and for the ice dancers Tanith and Ben to win today, just motivated me. I was very proud of them but I knew I still had a job to do and I sort of used some of their momentum to try keeping our men going", Lysacek commented. "As for me, I just wanted to represent my team well. I have to thank my very strong and consistent team mates for the momentum they created and the motivation they gave me." Jeremy Abbott remained in fifth place. He hit a quadruple toeloop but popped two Axels and crashed on an attempted triple Axel in the last seconds of his routine (205.05 points). Performing to the dramatic "Tosca" by Giacomo Puccini, Belbin and Agosto produced difficult lifts such as a straight line-curve lift and a rotational lift as well as intricate step sequences. The current world silver medalists were awarded a Level 4 for the circular step and a Level 3 for the diagonal step sequence. They scored 98.71 points (48.60/50.11) and racked up a total 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. A few of the levels are maybe not as strong, but it was better overall", Belbin said. "It felt a little more fulfilling just because it felt like we were ready to go for it. At worlds we were holding back a little bit. But here it flowed better", agreed Agosto. "We have to take that with us and try to always do that, because that's 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." Denney and Barrett hit a throw triple Lutz and a triple twist in their routine to "Allegretto" by Karl Jenkins, but she stepped out of the side by side triple toeloop. They were third at 56.58 points (33.90/22.68), which was a new seasons best for them. "One thing that we've really shown here so far is not only our depth but our consistency in every discipline, so I think we should be really proud of that", team captain Lysacek said. "The girls both had clean skates last night and they blew us all away. The pairs and ice dancers were amazing today. I just tried to continue that moment." Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir led Team Canada today with their second place finish in the ice dance competition. Their program to "Another Gig in the Sky" and "Money" by Pink Floyd was highlighted by innovative lifts and smooth footwork. The world bronze medalists got a level four for all the lifts and a Level 3 for the twizzles and the step sequences to score 95.73 points (47.30/48.43) which added up to 156.71 overall. Patrick Chan rallied back from a disappointing short program to finish fourth in the men's event. The reigning world silver medalist missed his triple Axel but completed six other triples, difficult spins and footwork. He was ranked second in the free skating with 151.95 points and had a total score of 217.98 points. Vaughn Chipeur finished sixth (198.91 points). Jessica Dubé and Bryce Davison came in fourth in the pairs event after she fell on the side by side triple Salchow and at the end of their side by side spin (55.44 points). "Team Canada is very pleased with how today went, obviously we moved up a spot. 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 little bit up into the top six. I think they will motivate us for our skates tomorrow and hopefully trying getting closer to the powerhouse of the American team", team captain Moir told the press conference. Nobunari Oda was the top scoring athlete from team Japan today. The Japanese team captain fell on his opening quadruple toeloop, but recovered to land a solid triple Axel-triple toe, another triple Axel and four more triples. Skating to "Warsaw Concerto," he also produced fast spins that got him Level 3s and a 4. Oda received 149.90 points (79.40/71.50) and was ranked fourth in the free skate, but remained in third place at 229.25 points. Takahiko Kozuka came in eighth. He struggled with some jumps (190.93 points). Cathy Reed and Chris Reed achieved a new seasons best with their free dance to "Il Mirto e La Rosa" and came in fifth (120.23 points). Pair skaters Narumi Takahashi and Mervin Tran were sixth with 43.00 points. She crashed on the double flip while he fell just skating forward. While Joubert slipped to second place in the men's, ice dancers Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat moved up to third for the French team. Joubert nailed an excellent quadruple toeloop in his powerful program to Matrix Reloaded and Requiem for a Dream, but he doubled his planned quadruple Salchow. Seven triples followed, but he put his hand down on a triple Lutz and cut short his two final spins that were graded only a Level 2 and 1. The European champion earned a seasons best of 151.70 points (76.50/75.20) and had 237.09 points overall. Florent Amodio fell on his quadruple Salchow attempt to come in tenth (182.32 points). Pechalat and Bourzat entertained the crowd with their charming Clown routine. They produced impressive lifts like a curve lift with her upside down resting on his shoulders and Level 3 footwork. The lifts, the twizzles and the spin were all graded a Level 4 by the technical panel and the French champions received 93.27 points (47.00/46.27). They edged out Russia's Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski and finished third at 150.63 points. Vanessa James and Yannick Bonheur were ranked fifth in the pairs at 46.20 points. He stumbled on a cheated triple Salchow and their triple twist was messy. Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov picked up 11 points for the Russian team with their second place in the pairs short program. Skating to "The Swan" by Camille Saint-Saens, the 2009 World bronze medalists had to overcome a rough start when she missed the side by side triple toe, but they reeled off a triple twist, throw triple loop and Level 4 spins and spirals to earn 65.08 points (36.28/29.80). European champions Khokhlova and Novitski finished fourth in the dance category. The Muscovites seemed to rush their Paganini program, although they got high levels for their lifts, footwork. In the end, Novitski slipped and fell in the finishing pose (149.45 points). Sergei Voronov dropped from fourth to seventh place (196.70 points) while Konstantin Menshov remained in 12th place. Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang won the pairs short and scored 12 points for China. The three-time and reigning world silver medalists opened their routine to "Riding on the Wings of Songs" with a huge triple twist and throw triple loop. They also nailed the side by side triple Salchow and received a Level 4 for their spins, the lift and the death spiral. The Chinese established a new seasons best with 70.42 points (40.58/29.84). "I'm very happy that we got a new seasons best score. 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", Hao Zhang explained. "All the members of 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", he added. The two men Jialiang Wu and Chao Yang finished ninth and 11th. Ice Dancers Xintong Huang and Xun Zheng were ranked sixth (110.40 points).