The fifth edition of the ISU World Team Trophy in Figure Skating continued Saturday with the pairs and ladies free skates. A total of 28 000 spectators attended the three days of competition at Yoyogi National Stadium in Tokyo, Japan.

Team Japan recaptures World Team Trophy title

Team Japan recaptured the World Team Trophy title it had previously won in 2012. Japanese skaters earned 109 points over the three days of competition. Team Russia moved up to second place and claimed the silver medal with 105 points while three-time and defending champions Team USA captured the bronze with 97 points.

In the end it came down to the ladies event. Mai Mihara and Wakaba Higuchi put out spectacular performances to finish second and third in the free skate, collecting 11 and 10 points respectively for Japan. Mihara’s performance to “Cinderella” featured seven clean triples and excellent spins and she scored a personal best with 146.17 points. Higuchi’s program to “Scheherazade” was clean with the maximum of seven triples as well and she too posted a personal best of 145.30 points. Pairs skaters Sumire Suto and Francis Boudreau-Audet came sixth in the free and contributed seven points to the team score.

“I am happy and surprised that we ended up in first place and I am very grateful. I am too happy for words actually. I think the ladies put on a wonderful performance tonight and also the pair did a wonderful job. I think team Japan was able to grasp this event together as a team and we were able to make a statement as a new team Japan,” said team captain Kana Muramoto.

For Russia, two-time and reigning World champion Evgenia Medvedeva scored 12 points with her first place finish in the ladies free. The two-time European champion put out a mesmerizing performance of her program to “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” reeling off seven triples including two triple-triple combinations, level-four spins and footwork, earning a World record score of 160.46 points. Elena Radionova delivered a strong performance as well to “Turandot,” but stumbled on an underrotated double Axel. The two-time European silver medalist ranked fifth in the free (137.08 points). Earlier, Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov placed second in the pairs free. Skating to “Music Was My First Love,” the European champions produced a triple twist, triple toe-double toe, two more triple throws and level-four elements to score 142.38 points.

“Our team did not perform to their maximum, but we really felt the atmosphere of this event. We enjoyed our skating as much as we could and we were very happy the season is over. We congratulated each other and think we ended the season on a high note”, said team captain, Ekaterina Bobrova.

Ashley Wagner led Team USA by finishing sixth in the ladies free. Her program to “Exogenesis Symphony” included five clean triple jumps (133.26 points). Karen Chen ranked ninth. Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc placed fifth in the pairs free.

“I think it was a fantastic event for team USA to have some rookies to perform as well as they did and everybody working together to get to this third place. I think that we definitely could have been stronger in some areas, but understandably though I think that what we created together and this accomplishment is something that I’m very proud of. Team USA worked very hard and I think this was a very successful competition for us”, team captain Wagner told the post-event press conference.

Team Canada remained in fourth place at 87 points. The highest scoring team members, Gabrielle Daleman and Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro, ranked fourth in their disciplines.

Team China placed fifth with 80 points. Cheng Peng and Yang Jin came third in the pairs free skate.

Team France remained in sixth place at 62 points. However, Vanessa James and Morgan Ciprès won the pairs free with a spectacular performance to “The Sound of Silence,” earning a new personal best of 146.87 points.