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U.S., Japan all square at World Team Trophy

Davis, White win short dance; Takahashi posts world-record score in short program

Meryl Davis and Charlie White have a 2.25-point edge over Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.
Meryl Davis and Charlie White have a 2.25-point edge over Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. (AFP)

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By Mickey Brown
(04/19/2012) - This one's going right down to the wire.

Day one at the 2012 World Team Trophy in Tokyo is in the books, and Team USA and Team Japan are tied at the top with 45 points apiece. (Japan is technically ahead, as it owns the tiebreaker, which takes each team's two best results; Japan finished first in men's and second in ladies, while the U.S.'s highest placements were a first and a third.) Three other teams -- France, Canada and Italy -- are separated by two points.

The U.S. used a balanced attack to accrue its points, while Japan relied on its dominant singles skaters to amass its total.

The standouts on day one for the Americans were world silver medalist ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White, who upended their Canadian counterparts, world champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, in the short dance by a healthy 2.25-point margin.

"Coming in second (at worlds) was not what we were aiming for," said White, who was voted team captain by his teammates. "We looked at this competition as one more chance to prove ourselves, and we want to take that opportunity."

Also aiding the United States' cause was a clean, albeit quad-less, short program skated by three-time U.S. champion Jeremy Abbott.

"This was the performance I would have loved to have at the world championships, but better late than never," Abbott said. "I wanted to skate for me and for my team."

The star of the day was Japanese world silver medalist Daisuke Takahashi, who set a new (unofficial) world record with his short program score of 94.00 points. Takahashi landed his opening quad toe as well as a triple Axel and a triple Lutz-triple combo, and his components score (44.29) was almost equal to that of reigning two-time world champion Patrick Chan of Canada (44.93).

"I had a charity event and TV appearances, so it was mentally tough to prepare," Takahashi said. "It was a lot of work, and I had to overcome the fatigue from worlds."

Chan, who hasn't lost a competition since November 2010, fell on his triple Axel and sits more than four points back of Takahashi.

"The program itself was really easy, and I was able to be really comfortable and push the envelope without getting worried and uptight about it. I could really grab the attention of the judges, and see them react to it, and that's the first I've seen that this whole season," Chan said. "For me, it was a much better event here, and a good event to finish the season."

Japan also flexed its muscles in the ladies event, where its skaters, world bronze medalist Akiko Suzuki and Kanako Murakami, sit second and third, respectively. World champion Carolina Kostner of Italy won the ladies short with a personal-best score of 69.48 points.

World junior silver medalist Gracie Gold made an impressive senior debut, one that has her in fourth place. Her triple flip-triple toe combination was the highest-scored element in the ladies competition.

"When I land a really good flip, like I did today, it makes the triple toe easy for me," Gold said. "I love it when it's like that."

TEAM STANDINGS AFTER DAY ONE

Team Japan - 45
Team USA - 45
Team France - 35
Team Canada - 33
Team Italy - 33
Team Russia - 22

Information from U.S. Figure Skating, Skate Canada and the International Skating Union was used in this report.