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Japan, USA knotted up after opening day in Tokyo

Chock, Bates top dance field to give Americans share of lead; Russia sits third, Canada fourth

A patriotic Madison Chock and Evan Bates await their winning scores in the kiss and cry.
A patriotic Madison Chock and Evan Bates await their winning scores in the kiss and cry. (Renee Felton)

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By International Skating Union
(04/11/2013) - The third edition of the 2013 World Team Trophy opened Thursday in Tokyo with the short dance, men's and ladies short programs. The six top-ranked national teams of the 2012-13 season have qualified for the event. Each team consists of two men, two ladies, one pair and one ice dance couple.

Team Japan and Team USA are tied with 47 points, with Japan technically ahead by way of tiebreaker. Team Russia sits in third with 41 points.

Team Japan

"Today, we had ice dance, women and men," Japanese team captain Daisuke Takahashi said. "Some of the skaters were able to skate very well, some others maybe not as well, but at least -- as of today -- we are very happy to be number one."

Takahashi and Akiko Suzuki finished second in their short programs, collecting 22 points alone for Japan. Suzuki turned in a clean performance of her routine to Kill Bill and "Malaguena," which included a triple toe-double toe combination and a triple flip. She picked up a season's best of 66.56 points.

"This wasn't perfect," Suzuki said. "I mostly regret not to have done the triple-triple, but the first triple toe wasn't good enough for doing the second triple toe."

Performing to "Moonlight Sonata," Takahashi landed forward on his quadruple toe loop but pulled off a triple Axel and Level 4 steps to earn 80.87 points.

"I was very motivated, but I made a mistake, and it's a shame I couldn't give a better contribution to the team," Takahashi said. "Overall, the level of my performance was good, but of course the mistake on the jump (quad toe) was big. I'd like to try harder for the free skate."

Mao Asada (59.39 points) and Takahito Mura (77.65 points) came fifth, as both missed a jump, while ice dancers Cathy Reed and Chris Reed placed fourth in the short dance (56.35 points).

Team USA

"Today was a great day for team USA," American team captain Ashley Wagner told the press. "We had many amazing performances. I'm very proud of our dance team, our men and the U.S. Ladies. I was very happy with what we accomplished today and hope we'll be able to carry that through on to tomorrow and then Saturday as well."

The Americans had a strong start when Madison Chock and Evan Bates won the short dance, securing 12 points. Performing to a waltz and polka from "Cirque du Soleil," the 2013 Four Continents bronze medalists picked up a Level 4 for the twizzles, the first polka sequence and the rotational lift. They were awarded 66.54 points.

"[The World Team Trophy] is unlike any other competition I've experienced ever, in a good way," Bates said. "The atmosphere is infectiously fun.

"It's not like a normal skating competition in the way that everyone is cheering for each other. Everyone is excited, I think as much as for the competition, as for what is coming up next, which is a rest. Everyone is happy to be here and going through their programs one last time for the fans. It's the last hurray."

"It was fun," Chock added. "This program has been fun all season, so we weren't expecting anything different. We had a good time. It was nice to skate this program one last time."

Gracie Gold earned nine points for the team by placing third in the ladies short program. She fell on her triple Lutz-triple toe combination but hit a double Axel and triple flip (60.98 points).

"It was pretty good; not perfect," Gold said. "I had a fall. I probably should have done a triple Lutz-double toe.

"It's the last competition of the season; I'm a little bit tired. I had a lot of fun, and the crowd is so supportive."

Wagner placed fourth but missed her double Axel (59.77 points).

"I got the triple-triple out there, and that's really what I was focusing on more than anything else," Wagner said. "Then, going into the Axel, I was thinking, 'Don't repeat last year' (which was a fall). I'm happy with what I did. I really wanted to do the triple-triple; I got it out there and I'm happy."

Jeremy Abbott is sitting in fourth as well after falling on a triple flip (80.24 points), and Max Aaron produced a quad Salchow-double toe loop combination to finish sixth (77.38 points).

"The weird part is that your teammates are also your competitors," Abbott said. "I want Max to skate his absolute best because the better he skates, the better our team does. I want him to skate his best and I want me to skate a little bit better.

"When you're competing by yourself, you really feel alone on the ice; that can be scary. To have that camaraderie and that support here is really cool."

"I had a good time out there," Aaron said. "I want to finish the season strong. I actually wanted a season's best; I didn't reach that, but it makes me go back and look at what I need to focus on.

Team Russia

"We are very happy to be in the top three after the first day," Russian captain Maxim Trankov said. "It is the first time for Russia to be so high. We have skaters in the top three in all categories, and it is a good result for us. We hope some skaters will skate better in the next days. We are a good team and we can do even better."

Adelina Sotnikova was the highest-scoring team member with her win in the ladies short program. Her routine to "Capriccio Espagnol" featured a triple flip, double Axel and four Level 4 elements. Only the back end of the triple Lutz-triple toe was under-rotated (67.13 points).

"I am very happy with my performance, although I didn't do my planned [triple Lutz-triple loop] combination," the 2013 European silver medalist said. "I felt that I wasn't right in the air and I had to do the toe instead of the loop. In the free, I just have to skate clean."

Konstantin Menshov and ice dancers Ksenia Monko and Kirill Khaliavin finished third in their events.

Menshov put out a clean program to "Pina," pulling off a quad-triple combination, triple Axel and triple Lutz to set a season's best with 80.60 points. Monko and Khaliavin were the only dance team to pick up a Level 4 for both parts of the Yankee Polka (59.47 points).

Maxim Kovtun ranked seventh and Elizaveta Tuktamisheva finished 10th after some errors.

Team Canada

Team Canada currently stands in fourth place with 34 points.

Patrick Chan won the men's short program in spite of a fall on the quad toe, but produced a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination and Level 4 spins and footwork (86.67 points).

"Considering the long trip and end of the season, it was a good day," the three-time world champion said. "I think all the men felt a little shaky.

"It was still a good day for me; I was able to do triple Lutz-triple toe at the end of the program. I was really tired and didn't have enough speed into the quad or into the Axel; I think that was the reason I was a little rough."

Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje came second in the short dance, contributing 11 points to Canada's score. They lost a few points on their Level 2 side-by-side footwork and the twizzles (Level) to reel in 62.42 points overall.

Kevin Reynolds came in ninth, while Kaetlyn Osmond and Gabrielle Daleman finished seventh and 12th, respectively.

Team France

Team France ended up in fifth place with 23 points.

Ice dancers Pernelle Carron and Lloyd Jones had the best result for the French side with their fifth-place finish in the short dance. Maé Bérénice Méité turned in a solid performance to place sixth in the ladies short program, while Brian Joubert finished eighth in the men's short after a wobbly quad toe-double toe combination.

Team China

Team China came in sixth with 21 points.

Ice Dancers Xiaoyang Yu and Chen Wang contributed seven points with their sixth-place result in the short dance. Zijun Li and Kexin Zhang finished eighth and ninth, respectively, in the ladies short program. Han Yan and Yi Wang struggled in the men's short program, with Yan placing 10th and Wang finishing 11th.