U.S. takes gold at inaugural World Team Trophy

Asada wins ladies event; Zhang, Zhang top pairs; but Americans hold on

Evan Lysacek (back) holds up the championship trophy, as he and the rest of Team USA show off their gold medals at the ISU World Team Trophy.
Evan Lysacek (back) holds up the championship trophy, as he and the rest of Team USA show off their gold medals at the ISU World Team Trophy. (Getty Images)


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(04/18/2009) - The inaugural ISU World Team Trophy continued Saturday in Tokyo with the the pairs and ladies free skates. This new event features the six best figure skating teams of the 2008-09 season, which are the USA, Canada, China, France, Japan and Russia. Each team consists of two men, two Ladies, one pair and one ice dancing couple. The teams qualified primarily according to the results of the 2009 ISU World Figure Skating Championships, the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series and Final, plus possibly the ISU European Figure Skating Championships, the ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships, the ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships and the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series. The total prize money awarded is US$1,000,000, which is the highest prize money offered in ISU history. The event was considered a huge success.

Team USA extended their overnight lead to become the first ISU World Team Trophy gold medalists in history. They won with 60 points. Canada remained in second place and took silver with 54 points. Japan claimed the bronze medals and accumulated 50 points. France (37 points), Russia (35 points) and China (34 points) finished fourth through sixth, respectively.

Team USA didn't win a category today but benefited from the strong performances of Caroline Zhang and Rachael Flatt, who pulled up to come in third and fourth, respectively, in the ladies competition. Zhang was credited for a triple flip-triple toe loop combination and produced five more triples, as well as beautiful spins, including her trademark layback spin that was graded a Level 4 and earned +3 Grades of Execution (GOE) across the board. The three-time world junior medalist picked up a personal-best 116.80 points (64.32 total element score/52.48 program component score) and moved up to third overall with 175.68 points. Flatt nailed six triples, but her triple flip-triple toe was downgraded, just like on Friday in the short program. She earned 171.81 points. In the pairs event, Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett dropped from third to fourth after he doubled the side-by-side triple toe loop and singled the double Axel. But the U.S. silver medalists completed a throw triple Lutz and throw triple loop. They earned 158.24 points.

"I've said this whole week I'm very proud of my team. They did a wonderful job. I think this is going to be a very memorable competition for everyone who participated, because it was the first of hopefully many," team captain Evan Lysacek told the press. "I think it was very successful. Above and beyond any team's or any person's performance here, I think we are all proud and all impressed with level of competition that was brought here to Tokyo after the world championships concluding just two weeks ago. So it was a great test event to the importance of this competition, and, obviously, we thank the ISU and Japan for hosting it."

Joannie Rochette was Canada's top skater on Saturday. The reigning world silver medalist gave a strong performance of her free program to "Concierto de Aranjuez", landing five clean triples and executing strong spins, two of which were a Level 4. She stepped out of the triple Lutz, however, and stumbled briefly in her footwork. Rochette earned 120.08 points (58.64/61.44) and remained in second place with 182.16 overall. Cynthia Phaneuf came in seventh (135.65 points). Jessica Dubé and Bryce Davison pulled up to third in the pairs event. Their routine to Carmen featured a side-by-side double Axel-double Axel sequence, a side-by-side triple Salchow, a triple twist and difficult lifts, but Dubé fell on the throw triple Lutz and stepped out of the throw triple loop. They got 108.68 points (58.16/51.52) for the free skate, which added up to 164.12 points overall.

"It has been a fantastic week. The Canadian team is very happy. It was difficult for us trying to keep up with the American team, but we're looking forward to the next World Team Trophy and try to catch them maybe," team captain Scott Moir said. "It has been fantastic skating from everyone around. The American team obviously really delivered this week, so hats off to them. There were some amazing performances from the Japanese skaters that we'll never forget. The Canadians are just extremely pleased to be in the mix and had some personal bests as well," he continued.

As the last skater to compete at the event this year, Mao Asada gave a spectacular performance to secure 12 points for Japan. Skating to "Waltz Masquerade", the 2008 world champion nailed a beautiful triple Axel, followed by a triple flip-double toe-double loop, a triple loop, a triple toe and a double Axel. She also produced excellent spins, earning a Level 4 for the flying sit and flying combination spin. The only glitches were two cheated jumps that were downgraded -- the second triple Axel (in combination with a double toe) and the second flip (in combination with double loop). Nevertheless, Asada scored 126.03 points (62.11/63.92) and accumulated a new, personal-best total score of 201.87 points.

"I felt really comfortable for both my short and free program this time. I think I gave a 100 percent of my ability. I achieved more than 200 points, which was nice. The second triple Axel was downgraded, so I need to work on that. Overall, I'm satisfied with this competition," Asada commented.

Miki Ando slipped to fifth place after popping her planned quadruple Salchow into a double and falling on it. The 2009 world bronze medalist also singled a Lutz but landed four triples to earn 167.52 points overall. In the pairs competition, Narumi Takahashi and Mervin Tran produced a season's-best performance and finished sixth with 125.91 points.

"I'm very proud of my team. I am very pleased to have been captain of this team," Nobunari Oda commented. "The schedule was really difficult for everyone, but everybody knew how to warm up and to get ready. I don't think there is anything to improve [for this event]."

Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang won the pairs event for China. The current world silver medalists turned in a strong performance of their routine to "The Yangtze River" that included a double Axel-triple toe loop combination, their trademark big throws -- a triple twist, a triple loop and a triple Salchow -- as well as Level 4 lifts. However, Dan Zhang's triple Salchow was downgraded. The team still established a new season-high of 123.40 points (63.08/60.32) and won with 193.82 points overall.

"We are very satisfied with the result, even [though] we did some small mistakes. But these were just small mistakes," Dan Zhang said. "Overall, we are very happy with the result and our performance, especially since we have been really busy and we are tired. In the busiest period, we had one competition per week," she added.

Russia's best skaters on Saturday, Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov, finished second to Zhang and Zhang. They hit a triple toe-double toe loop sequence, a throw triple loop, a triple twist and got a Level 4 for their lifts, spins and death spiral. Kavaguti took a fall on the throw quadruple Salchow, while Smirnov stumbled on the double Axel. The world bronze medalists earned 120.07 points (61.47/59.60) and remained in second at 185.15 points.

For full results, please go here or visit For further information, please refer also to ISU Communication 1490 (ISU World Team Trophy Announcement). The ISU World Team Trophy in Figure Skating concludes Sunday with the Exhibition Gala.