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USA barges into first after Chock, Bates win dance

Canada sits in second after day two; Takahashi puts Japan in third

Team USA's (L-R) Marissa Castelli, Madison Chock, Ashley Wagner and Gracie Gold are proud to see their nation in the lead.
Team USA's (L-R) Marissa Castelli, Madison Chock, Ashley Wagner and Gracie Gold are proud to see their nation in the lead. (Renee Felton)

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By International Skating Union
(04/12/2013) - The 2013 World Team Trophy continued Friday in Tokyo with the pairs short program, the free dance and the men's free skate.

Team USA skates to lead

Team USA grabbed the lead with 55 points. Team Canada moved up from fourth to second with 50 points, while Team Japan slipped from first to third with 48 points.

"Today was a long day at the rink for me," U.S. team captain Ashley Wagner said. "It was lots of sitting and watching skating. I'm so proud of my team because they made all of that entertaining.

"The team event is something new to skating, especially for us singles skaters," she continued. "We are not used to working together as a team. Competitions like this are a great place for us to get our feet wet and see how the team event might be at the Olympics."

Ice dancers Madison Chock and Evan Bates contributed 12 points to Team USA's score and were the top-ranked U.S. skaters on day two. They delivered a smooth dance to Doctor Zhivago, earning a Level 4 for the lifts, spin and twizzles (total score 164.91 points).

"We're very happy with that. We've been working on this program since July and we've seen it progress through the year," Chock said.

"We've been working on this program for what feels like forever," Bates added. "This was our last performance. We told each other we wanted to enjoy it, and that's what we did.

"This competition is a blast. It's so unique and different from any other. We feel the energy from our teammates. The team event is the most I've had this season."

In the men's event, Max Aaron landed two quad Salchows and moved up from sixth to fourth (236.62 points), while Jeremy Abbott slipped from fourth to sixth after some errors (231.84 points).

"It felt great out there," Aaron said of his performance. "The quads are really springy. They helped keep the momentum going and helped me keep pushing."

"I'm happy to get a season's best," Abbott said. "Sad it wasn't better. It's been a tough go for me this season. I'm finally starting to get things back together. I was pleased with the performance -- not super excited, but pleased; it's a start for next season."

Pairs skaters Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir finished fifth in the short program.

"It was a little nerve-racking because this is the team event and you want to go out strong for the team," Castelli said. "I think we had a lot of fun. It was great to skate in Japan again."

"It was a great time," Shnapir added. "We wanted to have fun our last time out with this program. I made a mistake on the Salchow and that cost us some points. All in all, I felt good about the program."

Team Canada

"I think today was great," Canadian captain Patrick Chan told the press. "The pairs team did very well; we have a strong pair that is really consistent, and we rely on them.

The men's event was teamwork. Kevin [Reynolds] did all the work, really; he did the biggest part of today. I said yesterday today is going to be moving day, and we saw a lot of changes in the rankings. I'm really happy with how we worked as a team to be where we are."

Team Canada moved up when their skaters collected three second places. First, Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford picked up 11 points for their team by coming second in the pairs short program. Their routine, set to La bohème, was highlighted by a triple twist, side-by-side triple Lutz and throw triple Lutz (69.94 points).

"We weren't sure what to expect coming here because we were coming off such a big high at the world championships," Duhamel said. "To get back to training was a little bit difficult. It was hard for us to focus.

"I think we did a really good job today," she continued. "We really loved the short program we had that year and it gave us a lot of success."

Ice dancers Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje finished second as well with 160.08 total points. Their dance to "Humanity in Motion" was highlighted by difficult lifts and intricate step sequences, but Weaver fell on a transition move.

"We feel good; we put it all out there today," Weaver said. "It was a little bit more difficult today than in London, [Ontario], but I think that we did a great job and really capped the season off well.

"It wasn't perfect, of course, but just to be able to be here and skate the rest of the season again is a gift for us, and so we're happy, no matter what the outcome."

Chan and Reynolds placed second and third, respectively, in the men's event. Overnight leader Chan dropped one spot as he fell on a triple Axel, triple Lutz and the entry of his final spin (240.21 points).

"I've been feeling off since I got here," Chan said. "It's been really a lot of hard work trying to get myself motivated to do the program. It's hard to go back to training after worlds."

Reynolds went for three quads and hit a quad Salchow and toe while another quad toe (in combination with triple toe and double loop) was under-rotated. He pulled up from ninth to third with 237.65 points.

Team Japan

"Although the Japanese team does not have a pair, I am very relieved that I have the opportunity to speak to you (at the press conference) at the end of the day," said Japanese captain Daisuke Takahashi, referring to his team's top-three finish. "Tomorrow, with pairs and ladies, I don't know what's going to happen, but I'm sure that our team members are going to do their best, and I'm looking forward to seeing it."

Takahashi earned 12 points for Team Japan when he won the men's event. He produced eight triple jumps but stumbled on his quad toe loop, earning 249.52 total points.

"I am not satisfied with my performance," he said. "I wanted to end the season with a good program. I finished first because of other peoples' mistakes, so it feels not perfect to be in first, but it feels nice."

Takahito Mura remained in fifth place (233.68 points), while Cathy Reed and Chris Reed finished fourth in the dance event (141.75 points). Japan didn't enter a pairs team and didn't receive points for the event.

Team Russia

Team Russia slipped from third to fourth, combining for 42 points.

The day started well for the Russians when Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov secured 12 points with their win in the pairs short program. The reigning world champions produced a triple twist, side-by-side triple Salchow and throw triple loop in their routine set to The Godfather (74.41 points).

"We skated like in a show," Trankov said. "It is like competition and show together. It is a special experience for us to skate for the team. We finished our season very well with a good short. It was the last time for us to skate our Godfather program and we'll miss it, because we love to skate it."

Dancers Ksenia Monko and Kirill Khaliavin helped their team by remaining in third place with 149.27 points. However, Konstantin Menshov, who was ranked third in the men's short program, dislocated his shoulder when falling on a triple Axel and had to withdraw. Subsequently, Team Russia got points only from Maxim Kovtun's eighth-place finish in the men's event.

Team France

Team France is ranked fifth with 35 points.

Vanessa James and Morgan Ciprès were the highest scoring team members, as they placed third in the pairs short program with a clean skate (58.78 points). Ice dancers Pernelle Carron and Lloyd Jones remained in fifth place, while Brian Joubert and Romain Ponsart finished seventh and 11th, respectively, in the men's contest.

Team China

Team China is still in sixth with 32 points.

Pairs skaters Cheng Peng and Hao Zhang finished fourth in the pairs short, and ice dancers Xiaoyang Yu and Chen Wang were sixth. Men's competitors Han Yan and Yi Wang finished ninth and 10th, respectively.