Road To The Olympic Games

Figure Skating

Chen edges Hanyu at World Team Trophy figure skating event in Japan

Three-time world champion Nathan Chen beat two-time Olympic gold medallist Yuzuru Hanyu in the men's short program at the figure skating World Team Trophy on Thursday.

3-time world champ leads after men's short program; Canada finishes opening day 6th overall

Nathan Chen of the United States, seen above at the world championships last month, topped local favourite Yuzuru Hanyu in the men's short program on the opening day of competition at the World Team Trophy event in Osaka, Japan. ( Linnea Rheborg/Getty Images)

Three-time world champion Nathan Chen beat two-time Olympic gold medallist Yuzuru Hanyu in the men's short program at the figure skating World Team Trophy event on Thursday in Osaka, Japan.

Chen, winner of the past five U.S. titles, opened with a quadruple flip and added a triple axel and a quad toe loop-triple toe loop combination for a total of 109.65 points.

Local favourite Hanyu of Japan landed a quadruple salchow, a quad toe loop-triple toe loop combination and a triple axel for 107.12 points and is in second place.

Jason Brown of the United States landed all his jumps and finished third with 94.86 points.

Last month, the 21-year-old Chen became the first American since Scott Hamilton to win a third consecutive World Figure Skating Championship men's title in Stockholm, Sweden, where he also beat Hanyu.

Chen has not lost a competition since the 2018 Olympics.

The biennial World Team Trophy features the six best figure skating teams from the 2020-21 season.

Teams from Japan, the United States, Canada, France, Russia and Italy are competing.

Canada sent different skaters to Osaka than the team that competed at last month's world championships in Stockholm. This is the first live event this season for these Canadian skaters after both Skate Canada International and the Canadian championships were cancelled. Skate Canada Challenge was held virtually.

Russia holds overall lead

Russia led the competition after the first day with 49 points, two ahead of the United States. Japan was third with 42 points. Canada sits in sixth place after the opening day of competition with 23 points. 

Roman Sadovsky of Vaughan, Ont., placed sixth in the men's short program with a score of 89.61. Two-time Canadian champion Nam Nguyen of Ajax, Ont., tallied 66.89 and sits at the bottom of the standings in 11th. 

World champion Anna Shcherbakova of Russia won the women's short program with a score of 81.07. Compatriot Elizaveta Tuktamysheva was second with 80.35 while Japan's Kaori Sakamoto was third with 77.78.

The 17-year-old Shcherbakova opened with a double axel and landed a triple flip as well as a triple-lutz-triple loop combination.

Reigning U.S. champion Bradie Tennell was fifth with 67.40 followed by compatriot Karen Chen with 62.48.

Alison Schumacher of Tecumseh, Ont., is ninth in the women's singles (59.19), while two-time national champion Gabrielle Daleman is 10th (57.22).

Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov of Russia won the rhythm dance event with 86.66 points. Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri of Italy were second with 82.93 followed by Americans Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker with 76.79.

Carolane Soucisse of Montreal and Shane Firus of North Vancouver were sixth with 65.06.

U.S. enters as defending champs

Each country sends two men, two women, one pair and one ice dancing entry. The points will be combined across the four disciplines with the highest point total winning.

The World Team Trophy was first held in 2009. Team USA has won four of the previous six competitions with the other two won by Japan. The U.S. is the defending champion.

A limited number of fans were allowed into Maruzen Intec Arena even though Osaka is experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases.

On Wednesday, Japan's second-largest city recorded over 1,100 cases, its highest total since January.

With less than a year to go until the Beijing Olympics, many of the world's top skaters are in Osaka, eager to get in another competition after several International Skating Union events were cancelled this season due to the pandemic.

The competition continues Friday with then men's free program, the ice dance free program and the pairs short program.

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With files from CBC Sports and The Canadian Press

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