Team USA claimed top spot on the leaderboard at the end of the first day of competition at the 2019 World Team Trophy in Fukuoka, Japan. The Americans scored 50 points over Japan (48 points) and Russia (38 points).
In the first event of the competition, Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron put Team France at the top of the leaderboard after the rhythm dance, followed by Russia and the U.S.
The ladies short program flipped the standings in Japan’s favour. Rika Kihira won the segment, with her teammate Kaori Sakamoto skating into third, earning a combined 22 points. Russia’s Elizaveta Tuktamysheva placed second earning 11 points for her team. Kihira and Tuktamysheva both landed clean triple Axels in their performances.
Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue kicked off the day for Team USA with a third-place finish in the rhythm dance, earning 10 points for the team. Bradie Tennell and Mariah Bell finished fourth and fifth, respectively, adding 17 points to the team total. Team USA sat in third heading into the men’s short program, but Nathan Chen and his teammate Vincent Zhou claimed the top two spots in the men’s event, with Chen narrowly defeating Zhou by a margin of 1.44 points. Their combined total of 22 points propelled the Americans into first place overall with 50 points.
“This is my first time at a team event and what a great way to start,” said Hubbell, the team captain. “Team USA all had very strong performances. We have a team of Olympians, national champions, World medalists, and all are World (team) members. We knew we were strong going in and we wanted to fight together as a team to show how strong we are.”
Misato Komatsubara (Team Japan captain) and Tim Koleto collected seven with a sixth-place finish in the rhythm dance. Shoma Uno contributed to that score with a third-place finish in the men’s short (11 points). His teammate Keiji Tanaka placed fourth, earning nine points.
“Coming into the Team Event for the first time, I knew everybody on our team is very talented and there was one great performance after the other,” Komatsubara said. “Personally, even though we (she and Koleto) gave our best, we still were in last place, but I think it is a stepping stone for tomorrow.”
Russia’s Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov danced into second earning 11 points. Sofia Samodurova placed sixth in the ladies short, adding another seven points to the total. Team Japan and Team Russia were tied at 29 points after the first two segments.
However, the Russian men were not able to sustain the momentum. Andrei Lazukin, the replacement for an ailing Mikhail Kolyada, placed fifth (eight points). His teammate Alexander Samarin had a rough outing, suffering the only two falls of the day, finishing 12th and earning one point for the team. Russia dropped to third place overall.
Nonetheless, Katsalapov, the team captain, was upbeat. “It was a good day for Russia,” he said. “I am very happy for Lisa Tuktamysheva to come back onto the ice and put out that kind of strong performance and also Andrei Lazukin did a great job. Victoria and I are also pleased with our own performance. Each team member tried to stay in shape for this competition.”
Team France sits in fourth with 27 points, ahead of Team Canada (26 points), and Team Italy (24 points).
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