by Tatjana Flade
Photos by Robin Ritoss
Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir
(on last short program of season) Castelli – It was a little nerve racking because this is the team event and you want to go out strong for the team. I think we had a lot of fun. It was great to skate in Japan again.
Shnapir – It was a great time. We wanted to have fun our last time out with this program. I made a mistake on the Salchow, and that caused us some points. All-in-all, I felt good about the program.
(on team event) Castelli – It’s great. We have never had our own little kiss and cry. It’s fun to show our spirit and motivate our skaters and push them along with us. It’s a long season and it’s great to work as a team.
Madison Chock and Evan Bates
(on free dance) Chock – We’re very happy with that. We’ve been working on this program since July and we’ve seen it progress through the year.
Bates – We’ve been working on this program for what feels like forever. This was our last performance. We told each other we wanted to enjoy it and that’s what we did.
(on skating in Japan) Bates – Skating in Japan is always the most fun because the fans are so excited and they are so smart. They understand our sport. To skate in Japan is special and we’re happy they responded to our performances.
(on team event) Chock – Not to diss any of the other competitions I’ve been to but this has been the most fun competition I’ve been to so far. It’s great to be part of the team and have them there to support us and being there for them.
Bates – 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.
(on the season) Chock – Being together only two seasons, this is really a huge step forward for us. Next season we will progress even more
(on what they have planned for next season) Bates – Our goal is to make the Olympic Team and everything else falls in behind that goal. We have already decided on our free dance and are going to be skating to “Les Misérables.”
(on free skate) It felt great out there. The quads are really springy. They helped keep the momentum going and helped me keep pushing.
(on the season) It was learning experience, but yet again, it was tough because I was up there with the top guys. There was no learning curve. I had to jump in and represent my country. I took the challenge well and represented the U.S. well.
(on what he needs to work on for next season) The choreography. Everything, the second mark, needs to improve to be with the best of the guys out there. I’m going to work on that. I’m working on new programs, and hopefully they will stand with the big guys. Maybe I will add another quad jump in both programs and push the envelope from there. I hope to make the Olympic Team.
(on free skate) I’m happy to get a season’s best. 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. I feel I’m in good shape and I want to continue to now and not go down.
(on next season) I need to work on the quad. I need to have that consistent. I was struggling with it all season. I have started to land a few weeks ago. I did it here in practices, it felt really good. The double toe (today) was a lack of mileage in the training because I haven’t been doing all year until just recently. The jump has been good and I only want it to get better.
Ashley Wagner, Team Captain
(opening statement) Today was a long day at the rink for me. It was lots of sitting and watching skating. I’m so proud of my team because they made all of that entertaining. Our dance team was incredible, our pair team was great and I’m proud of our men. It was a great day for Team USA.
(on Olympic team event) The team event is something new to skating especially for us singles skaters. 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. I’m competitive. It’s an extra chance to compete and potentially win a medal.
(12 April 2013) Team USA grabbed the lead Friday at the ISU World Team Trophy in Figure Skating 2013 in Tokyo, Japan. The Americans scored 55 points so far. Team Canada caught up and now sits in second with 50 points. Team Japan dropped to third at 48 points. The Russians fell to fourth with 42 points after Konstantin Menshov dislocated his shoulder and had to give up during the free skating. France and China remained in fifth and sixth place.
“Today was a long day at the rink for me. It was lots of sitting and watching skating. I’m so proud of my team because they made all of that entertaining. Our dance team was incredible, our pair team was great and I’m proud of our men. It was a great day for Team USA”, U.S. team captain Ashley Wagner said. “The team event is something new to skating especially for us singles skaters. 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”, she continued.
“I think today was great. 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 a team work, 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”, Canada’s captain Patrick Chan told the press.
”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. 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”, the Japanese captain Daisuke Takahashi noted.
Volosozhar & Trankov take Pairs Short Program
Top favourites Tatiana Volosozhar/Maxim Trankov of Russia easily won the Pairs Short Program. Canadians Meagan Duhamel & Eric are trailing the World Champions by 4.47 points.
Performing to “The Godfather”, Volosozhar & Trankov produced a high triple twist – always a highlight and well received by the crowed -, throw triple loop and level-four lift, footwork and side by side spin. The backwards outside death spiral was graded a level two. Volosozhar’s triple Salchow had a terrible lean in the air, but she somehow managed to save the jump and even landed on one foot. The Russians scored 74.41 points. “I already have some experience saving jumps”, Volosozhar said, laughing. “At Worlds I also had to save the Salchow in the short program.” Overall the couple was pleased. ”We skated like in a show, 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”, Trankov said.
Duhamel & Radford didn’t look as sharp in their “La Boheme” short as they had at Worlds or Four Continents, but they gave a clean performance, executing a triple flip, side by side triple Lutz and four level-four elements. The World bronze medalists earned 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. 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. We really loved the short program we had that year and it gave us a lot of success”, Duhamel commented.
Vanessa James & Morgan Cipres of France finished third at 58.73 points with a solid short to “Rhumba d’Amour” and “Safri Duo”, but the triple twist was a bit messy and the side by side triple toes a bit wobbly. The French team also landed a throw triple flip and their footwork, lift and side by side spin were rated a level four.
China’s Cheng Peng & Hao Zhang are not far behind in fourth place with 58.62 points. Their triple twist was excellent (not surprisingly as they can do a quad) and so was the throw triple loop, but she stepped out of the landing of the triple toe and he stumbled twice in the footwork that got a level two.
Marissa Castelli & Simon Shnapir got eight points for team USA by placing fifth. Their routine to “Stray Cat Strut” and “Pink Panther” included a triple twist and throw triple Salchow, but he fell on the side by side triple Salchow (57.18 points).
Team Japan had no entry in the Pairs event and subsequently didn’t score any points.
Chock & Bates claim Ice Dance event
Madison Chock & Evan Bates claimed first place in the Ice Dance event thus giving Team USA their only maximum of 12 points of the day. They picked up a level four for five elements out of seven in their smooth “Doctor Zhivago” Free Dance, but they left out the choreo lift at the end. The elements were executed very well and garnered all positive GOEs from the judges. The U.S. silver medalists picked up 98.37 points and totaled 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. “Not to diss any of the other competitions I’ve been to but this has been the most fun competition I’ve been to so far. It’s great to be part of the team and have them there to support us and being there for them”, she added. Bates agreed: “This competition is a blast. It’s so unique and different from any other. We feel the energy from our teammates.” He went on to announce that they already picked their music for the Free Dance next season and it will the “Les Misérables.” He even asked the press to publish this information.
Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje remained in second place with their romantic dance about a sculpture coming to life. The lifts looked effortless and the whole program was beautiful to watch, but the twizzles weren’t too strong (level three) and Weaver slipped on a transition move. The Canadians earned 97.66 points and 160.08 overall. “We feel good. We put it all out there today. It was a little bit more difficult today than in London, 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”, Weaver shared. She celebrated her 24th birthday today. After they finished the free dance, the music people played “Happy Birthday” for her and the spectators sung along. “It was incredible to have thousands of people singing happy birthday to me. That’s something I’ll never forget”, the dancer added. Her partner meanwhile didn’t yet want to reveal what his birthday present for her was.
Monko & Khaliavin delivered a solid Flamenco routine with fast paced twizzles and a whirling rotational lift at the beginning. Like Chock/Bates they picked up a level four for all elements except for the footwork that was a level three. The Muscovites scored 149.27 points and placed third.
Cathy Reed & Chris Reed of Japan got a new seasons best for their Beatles free dance to finish fourth at 141.75 points. Pernelle Carron & Lloyd Jones of France were fifth with their chanson program “Les Vieux Amants” (138.97 points) and China’s Xiaoyu Yu & Chen Wang remained in sixth place (113.76 points).
Daisuke Takahashi claims victory
Daisuke Takahashi of Japan claimed victory in what was an eventful Men’s competition. Canada’s Patrick Chan had an off day and dropped to second while teammate Kevin Reynolds surged from 9th to third.
Takahashi, who stood in second place after the short program, stumbled on his opening quad toe but recovered to nail eight triple jumps including two Axels. Some landings were shaky and he landed forward on a double toe tacked on to the wobbly second triple Axel but overall this was much better than what he showed in the past two competitions. The Japanese star scored 168.65 points for his emotional “I Pagliacci” routine and accumulated 249.52 points. “Just before this event I changed back to last season’s blades”, Takahashi revealed. “All season my jumps felt not comfortable, especially the triple Axel and I didn’t know why. Now I realized it might be the blades, I tried it and it seemed to work better”, he continued. “I am not satisfied with my performance. 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”, the 27-year-old added.
Performing to ”La Boheme”, Chan nailed a beautiful quad-triple toe right out of the gate, but then tripled the second planned quad. The triple Lutz after that was fine, but then he crashed on the triple Axel and the program went downhill from then. The triple loop was tight, he stepped out of the triple flip-single loop-triple Salchow and to make the disaster complete he not only fell on the triple Lutz and singled an Axel but also splatted on the entry into his final spin. Chan was ranked fifth in the free with 153.54 points and came in second overall (240.21 points). “I’ve been feeling off since I got here. 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”, the three-time World Champion said and also complained about fatigue from travelling.
Luckily Reynolds was there to help out team Canada. He pulled off a quad Salchow and quad toe, but another quad toe and the triple Axel were underrotated. With four more triples including a rarely seen triple flip-triple loop combination, the Four Continents Champion racked up more points and got 164.13 for his free overall. He totaled 237.65 points.
Max Aaron produced two quad Salchows in his “West Side Story” and was the top ranked U.S. man in fourth place (236.62 points). ) “It felt great out there. The quads are really springy. They helped keep the momentum going and helped me keep pushing”, the U.S. Champion said and noted that he needs to work on his choreography for next season.
Japan’s Takahito Mura was another man who put out a nice quad, a toe, picking up +2 GOEs across the board from the judges. He didn’t make a major error, except for two-footing his second triple Axel to place fifth at 233.68 points.
Jeremy Abbott (USA) had talked about being in the shape of his life after the short program, but it didn’t quite show. The three-time U.S. Champion doubled his planned quad toe and fell on a triple flip and some other jumps were shaky as well. Too bad, since his program “Bring Him Home” is exquisite. He dropped to sixth with 231.84 points. ) “I’m happy to get a season’s best. 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. I feel I’m in good shape and I want to continue to now and not go down”, Abbott commented. He knows he needs the quad for next season. “I need to have that consistent. I was struggling with it all season. I have started to land a few weeks ago. I did it here in practices, it felt really good. The double toe (today) was a lack of mileage in the training because I haven’t been doing all year until just recently. The jump has been good and I only want it to get better”, the athlete explained.
Brian Joubert of France showed his fighting spirit again, battling some illness and fatigue. He pulled off a quad toe and seven triples to finish 7th (227.95 points). “I am very satisfied. For sure I am not in top shape. I haven’t worked since Worlds, because I was too tired. It was hard, I lost a lot of energy for Worlds and I had problems to get back to work. But I got my seasons best. This wasn’t a great program, but it gives me confidence and it motivates me to work for next season”, the always popular Frenchman said.
Maxim Kovtun landed a quad-triple toe and four triples but fell on the second quad toe to finish 8th (221.79 points). China’s Han Yan and Yi Wang also struggled with some jumps and took 9th and 10th place. Romain Ponsart remained in 12th place.
Menshov had started well into his free with a quad toe-double toe and another quad toe but then he dislocated his right shoulder on a hard fall on the triple Axel. He was forced to withdraw and taken to hospital.
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