I will start off on a positive note: hats off to the ISU for trying to find a way to expand the sport by creating a team event in the World Team Trophy. This event was held for the second time over the weekend in Tokyo, Japan.
In this event, the top six figure skating nations send a team of two men and ladies and one dance and pair team. The selection of the participating countries is based in large part on their ISU World rankings.
The results of each team's entries in all of the events are added together in order to come up with their result. The final result of the individual skater or team is translated into points and the team with the most points wins.
The placement points are based on the number of skaters with the winner in all disciplines earning 12 points. In the case of the singles events the team points range from 12 - 1 points in order of highest to lowest ranking while in dance and pairs it's from 12 - 7 points accordingly.
In my mind this event is a hard sell. With the exception of Synchronized Skating, figure skating isn't a team sport and doesn't have 'team' fans. Even though this event is only planned for every two years, it makes me wonder if it doesn't dilute the value of the results of the World Championships that immediately precede it.
Canada's team was led by two-time and defending world champions Patrick Chan and Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. Italy's team was led by the only other world champion in attendance: Carolina Kostner. In all three cases the world champions were defeated.
This is the conundrum. If you are the German world pair champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy whose country doesn't qualify for the World Team Trophy, you don't have to risk your reputation by possible defeat until next season.
In this case, I don't know what the solution could be. I am only thinking of what is at stake for individual skaters.
Chan a weak second
That said, was the World Team Trophy event exciting? You bet! The chance to see some of our favourite rivalries namely in the men's and ice dance competition was a treat.
Japan's Daisuke Takahashi was nothing short of brilliant on his way to winning the men's event. He earned a new world's record score of 94.00 points in the short program. He also won the free program with almost a 16 point advantage ahead of next closest rival Patrick Chan who finished in second.
Brian Joubert and Florent Amodio of France finished in third and fourth respectively; with only 1.31 points separating them.
Davis and White get revenge
In ice dance, it was a re-match of two of the best ice dance teams to have ever skated. Both teams have earned world titles and Olympic accolades. Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White and Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are evenly enough matched that the result when they meet can never be a foregone conclusion.
In this event, the 2012 World silver medalists from the United States took the top spot. Davis and White took the lead in both the short and free dance segments on their way to winning. Canadian ice dancers and 2012 World champions Virtue and Moir settled for second while the French team of Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat took third.
An impressive Aikiko Suzuki
As much as the ladies' event was world champ Carolina Kostner's to lose, the real story is in the continued consistency of 2012 World bronze medallist from Japan Akiko Suzuki. Although Kostner won the short program, her third place finish in the free left her with second place overall.
Akiko Suzuki was composed and elegant in both the short and free programs. Her second place finish in both segments gave her enough points overall to take first. It is great to see her skate with such focus.
Honourable mention in my mind goes to American champion Ashley Wagner who made the leap from fifth to third by winning the free. Wagner's scenario was much the same as it was at Worlds in that her short program result left her with a mountain to climb in the free. It is just a matter of time before she puts together two solid programs and when she does, she will be the one to watch.
Duhamel and Radford have solid skate
I had high hopes for Japan's Narumi Takahashi and Mervin Tran who took the lead after the short in the pairs' event to be able to sustain in the free. They dropped to third overall.
First place went to Russia's Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov whose gorgeous body line and solid technique moved them from second after the short to take the title.
Canada's Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford rounded out the third of three overall second place finishes for the Canadian team. After a fourth place finish in the short program they skated solidly to second place in the free. The Canadians' second place was enough to move the Canadian team into third for the World Team Trophy bronze medal.
At the end of the day and in front of a hometown crowd, Team Japan took top honours and the lion's share of the $1,000,000 prize money at the World Team Trophy in Tokyo.
Team USA earned the silver and Team Canada the bronze.
The other three teams: Team France, Team Russia and Team Italy finished in fourth, fifth and sixth respectively.
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