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2021 World Team Trophy: Day 2

by Maria-Laura Mitsuoka

Team Russia Maintains Commanding Lead in World Team Trophy after Day Two

© International Skating Union (ISU)

Jason Brown (USA), team captain for Team USA

Results After Day 2

PL Team Ladies Men Pairs Ice Dance Total Points
1 Russia 12 + 11 8 + 6 10 + 8 12 12 12 91
2 United States 8 + 7 12 + 10 12 + 5 9 10 10 83
3 Japan 10 + 9   11 + 4 11+ 7 10   8 8 78
4 France 2 + 1   9 + 5 9 + 4 11   9 9 56
5 Italy 6 + 5   3 + 0 6 + 0 8   11 11 53
6 Canada 4 + 3   7 + 2 3 + 2 7   7 7 42

Each team has two entries in Ladies and Men, and one entry in Pairs and Dance. Matteo Rizzo of Italy had to withdraw due to being Covid positive.

Points are awarded for each placement, 12 for first place through 1 for 12th place.

The fight goes on!

After an exciting first day with many breathtaking programs and magnificent shows, the World Team Trophy continued with the performances of the Pair Short Program, Free Dance and Men's Free Skating. Russia had secured the leader position on the first day with a total of 49 points, closely followed by Team USA, who earned a very well-deserved high score through World Champion Nathan Chen’s and Team Captain Jason Brown’s spectacular achievements. Team Japan had won third place, for France, Italy and Canada, however, the first day ended rather disappointingly.

Russia still in the lead

Team Russia was able to hold its ground against the other teams with a big score difference. Especially pairs and ice dancers lead their team very far ahead, bringing Russia's first victory in the history of the WTT within reach.

In the short program of the pair, world champion Anastasia Mishina & Aleksandr Galliamov shone with a wonderful interpretation of the piece Esmeralda.  Only the triple Salchow was not up to scratch, as it ended in a double one. Although many National competitions were held in Russia this season to keep the athletes motivated, this year was not easy for the pair. Mishina explained that "A lot of things were going on. We changed our coach and with covid, we had to stop training, but we kept on moving forward and worked hard."

For Victoria Sinitsina  & Nikita Katsalapov, the WTT ended with a very satisfying result. After struggling with illnesses and injuries, the couple had been able to claim victory at the Rostelecom Cup and World Championships, and now triumphed in the WTT. The program was flawless and the couple in top form, real role models for their discipline. Sinitsina gave the following tip for other teams on the way, “What I propose it so to put your soul into it and open your heart to it. And when you're performing the program, you have to really feel the joy of skating! Feel your body!” For the coming season, they are aiming for a victory at the Olympics.

In the men's free skate, Mikhail Kolyada made it to the top three for his team. Although the planned triple Axel and triple loop only became double jumps, his program was still convincing overall. Team captain Elizaveta Tuktamysheva could not be prouder of Team Russia’s achievements, “Today when I looked at the result after the boys, I could not be happier, because I don't think we've seen such a score after the second day in a long time. I hope everything will go tomorrow as we plan and we remain in this place. It would be great for me if Russia wins the Team Trophy for the first time with me as captain.”

Nathan Chen unstoppable

Team America continued to take second place today, shining especially with Nathan Chen's free skate. Although there were point deductions after his quad toe loop - triple toe loop combination because he landed uncleanly, he was still unbeatable and was ten whole points ahead of his biggest rival Yuzuru Hanyu. Since 2018, Nathan has been the undefeated World Champion, as well as the USA National Champion. His secret tip is not to worry too much about winning, “For me, focusing on it entirely doesn’t help me to perform better, if anything, it maybe makes me even perform worse. Now, when I compete in these competitions, I’m actually happy to win in a flow, but inevitably it’s going to end. This competition, the next or the following competition, these guys are really really good and these guys are always becoming stronger and stronger, especially coming into the Olympic season.”

For Jason Brown, unfortunately, the free skate didn't go quite as smoothly. The very first quad Salchow was underrotated, the entire program was mixed with many small mistakes, and after the triple Lutz he fell. This was unfortunately only enough for the eighth place still behind Daniel Grassl and Shoma Uno, who had performed a weaker short program the day before. Nevertheless, Jason did not lose his smile and emphasized how much he was looking forward to the last day of the event. "You know all we can do is try and our teammates, they work so hard and are so trained. And I have faith in them and I trust them and they are gonna go out and do their thing and that's all I can ask as a team captain. So, as long as they go up there and fight, I'll be cheering all the way."

In ice dance, Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker placed third with a decent performance. For the upcoming season, they plan to return to their drawing boards and brainstorm creative ideas for a new program.

Big disappointment for Shoma Uno

Japan's third-place also remained untouched, although not everyone was convinced of their own abilities. Yuzuru Hanyu made second place behind Nathan Chen, just like the day before, after not everything in his free skate went as planned. Point deductions were made for the quad Salchow, which was only performed in one rotation, plus minor mistakes continued throughout the rest of the program. Still, it meant a lot for Yuzuru to participate in the WTT and give light to his numerous and loyal fans in Japan during the Corona crisis. But he wasn’t the only one shining, and explained, “I think everybody was a light here. When I looked at the scores, I knew that everybody was going through a really tough battle, but they did their best. I felt that and it was a guiding light for me, that actually empowered me. Maybe because I‘m  a few years ahead of them and a senior to them, I knew that I had to really do well. That was really encouraging.”

Shoma Uno was very disappointed with his performance today and showed a lot of remorse. After trying to salvage the failed short program of the previous day with atriple Axel - quad toe loop combination to start the free skate, he crashed after his under-rotated quad toe loop. Bad luck followed him beyond the first jump, however, as he also crashed after his second quad toe loop and the three jump combination ended with only one flip. "There are so many talented skaters in Japan, somebody else might have done better and brought us on the top of the podium."

Pair dancers Riku Miura & Ryuichi Kihara had reason to celebrate because although they had never competed together at a WTT before, they placed third after their short program. Points were deducted for the under-rotated triple toe loop, which unfortunately ended in a fall, but they fought their way through the second half of the program with brave soul. Since their career together, the pair has improved from competition to competition, although the Corona pandemic made it impossible for them to travel back to Japan. Kihara commented, "We had the judges to level check before we went to the Worlds, but we never had actual competitions till the Worlds, so at the Worlds, we realized that we were not giving what we intended to score, so I think we made the right adjustments and improvements coming into the competition.”

No movement in the lower rankings

For Team Canada, Italy and France, the second day also ended in the lower half of the rankings. Italian pair dancers Nicole Della Monica & Matteo Guarise, as well as ice dancers Charlene Guignard & Marco Fabbri scored high points through second-place finishes, but could not compensate for the missing athlete Matteo Rizzo despite strong performances. The latter had to withdraw from the event after testing positive for COVID-19. Nevertheless, Matteo saw the participation in the WTT as a good enrichment for Team Italy, "We show to the young how to handle the competition, how to skate, to enjoy, to be friends with everybody. This is one chance every two years, and if you have the possibility to live it, you have to live it 100 per cent."

Team France's achievements were unfortunately not enough to place in the top three. In the men's free skate, Kevin Aymoz was far behind Kolyada after making several mistakes and only finished fourth. Adelina Galyavieva & Louis Tauro also had to be satisfied with fourth place. Overall they are only three points ahead of Italy at the moment, so tomorrow's ladies performance might decide the final ranking.

Team Canada is way down with 42 points. None of the disciplines worked out for the Canadians today and they all took last place. However, many stepped onto the ice in front of an audience after a very long period. In addition, team captain Nam Nguyen is the only member so far who has ever participated in a WTT. Surely, despite a defeat, the team will have taken many good experiences from this event.