What seemed to make the difference for USA was Jason Brown's second place in the men's free, Gracie Gold's first place in the ladies short, and perhaps the most unexpected- Scimeca/Knierim's third place finish in the pairs long program.
Gracie's first place SP got Team USA and extra two points from what I was predicting, with Jason and Scimeca/Knierim's placements adding another "bonus" point each.
Team Russia's ice dancers scored as expected, with Illinkyh/Zhgashin's fourth. Their men struggled with mistakes as usual, landing lower than I expected, though I should've seen it coming!
It was a close event, though, with USA only winning by one point. Had Elizaveta landed her triple axel in the short, she would've won the short and put the teams in a tiebreak.
Overall, it was a great way to end the season and I have to say that it was great to see so many top skaters compete one last time after Worlds. Many more blog posts to come over the summer as any information is shared about next year!
The ladies long program at World Team Trophy ended a lot like the podium at the World Championships, with Tuktamysheva, Radionova and Saktoko Miyahara finishing 1-2-3.
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva opened her free skate with a STUNNINGLY GORGEOUS triple axel... I mean, it looked really great, guys. This was the first time she added the 3A in her free program and I could see how spending all of that energy on the axel in the front of her program really hurt the rest of her skating. She jumped fine for the most part, but she did pop a triple loop later in the program. Overall, Liza understandably looked very tired, and her performance was really lacking for me. The 3A swayed the judges into giving her incredible PCS anyways, and she walked away with another win under her belt.
Her Russian teammate, Elena Radionova skated well in the free skate to place second. I could tell that Elena had improved her performance from Worlds when she was sick, but I don't know, something about her skating has really lost its luster for me. I think she needs some smoother edges and jump landings, as everything just seemed really scratchy to me. What she will always have going for her is her impressive technical consistency and that is what carries her to the podium at every event. Hopefully she matures and smoothes out next season.
Japan's Satoko Miyahara proved she very well deserved her Worlds silver medal with a fantastic free skate in Tokyo. The entire performance was light, airy, and she only got one under rotation call on her triple flip. I love this free skate for Miyahara and there is just something aesthetically pleasing about her skating quality. What a wonderful season she had and I can't wait to see what programs she puts out next year. PS- watch her exhibition performance- it's beautiful!
Ashley Wagner skated well in the free skate to stay in fourth place overall. Her jumps looked good on first glance, but she got several under rotations and edge calls, which have plagued her all season. If you add her SP and LP scores together, his was actually her best overall competition of the season- due to her season's best score in the short program. It's nice to see she didn't entirely run out steam through this long season and- for her- she truly made great progress this year.
Fellow American Gracie Gold ended her hot-and-cold season in exactly that fashion- hot, then cold. She surprisingly won the short program and then made mistakes in the long program, falling on her first triple lutz and falling out of other jumps to end in fifth. It's so frustrating to watch Gracie compete! She could medal at every single competition she enters, but she's always a hot mess mentally and dead performance-wise. The judges continue to give her high PCS, though, (too high, IMO) so you can tell they WANT to put her at the top. She has the green light but can't ever seem to take it!
If you add the SP and LP scores together, Gracie would hang on to third place due to her strong short and Satoko wouldn't have been able to take over Ashley for fourth.
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: 70.93 + 134.21= 205.14
Elena Radionova: 68.77 + 129.73= 198.5
Gracie Gold: 71.26 + 124.29= 195.55
Ashley Wagner: 64.55 + 126.46= 191.01
Satoko Miyahara: 60.52 + 129.12= 189.64
Even though this season is sadly at the end, I will be passing the time by blogging my thoughts on the season as a whole and previewing next season as well. Keep your eye out for my First Annual Figuratively Speaking Awards- I will be asking you to vote with me for the bests and worsts of the season!
Despite falling on their signature quad throw, Megan Duhamel and Eric Radford won the pair's free skate over China's Sui/Han by less than one point. The two teams were evenly matched in PCS but the Canadians had a higher technical score, even with the fall. Megan and Eric had more technical issues here than they have all season, but I think fatigue and the long season just caught up with them. Overall, they had a fantastic year.
Sui/Han looked so great at this event. It was nice to see them carry their momentum from Worlds on with them here. I really like these two and their style. I can't wait to see what they come up with next year.
A big shout out to Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim who threw down a season's best score in the free skate to beat the Russians Kavaguti/Smirnoff to finish third in that segment. I haven't seen their performance because the stream went down, but they looked very happy with it. Their placement in the free was truly the key to USA finishing in first. Good for them!
If you added the short and free skate scores together, Sui and Han would've actually pulled the upset:
Sui/Han: 71.20 + 139.73= 210.93
Duhamel/Radford: 68.68 + 140.70= 209.38
Kavaguti/Smirnoff: 66.97 + 127.07= 194.04
Scimeca/Knierim: 64.22 + 127.87= 192.04
Gabriella Papadakis/Guilleme Cizeron's gorgeous and romantic free dance won them first place in that segment with a score of 111.06. I just LOVE this program for them and it was truly a breakout season for this team. I hope these new World Champs come up with something just as powerful next year.
Canadians Weaver/Poje skated very well in their free dance to place just behind Papadakis and Cizeron with a score of 109.79, just barely below their season's best. I think these two were hungry after their disappointing third at Worlds and had two great skates here to end their season.
Chock and Bates had a bit of a rough free dance, with Evan falling on a piece of footwork near the end of the performance. These two looked a bit tired in the free to me but overall, they had a very good season and will hopefully continue that next season.
If you add up the scores, Weaver and Poje would've been the champions here.
Weaver/Poje: 73.14 + 109.79= 182.93
Papadakis/Cizeron: 70.86 + 111.06= 181.92
Chock/Bates: 72.14+102.74= 174.41
What a great way for Yzuru Hanyu to end his season with a clean, beautiful free skate. Yuzuru truly is a performer and his jumping talent is crazy good when he's on. This competition was much better than his Worlds performance and hopefully he can now get some very much needed rest in the off-season. PS- There is a video out there of him doing a quad-triple axel in the gala finale! Check it out!
Jason Brown truly had a great event. He was clean in both of the segments, with only a few tight landings in the short. His free skate is incredibly well choreographed in my opinion and I've really loved watching it all season. I hope BOTH of his programs next year have that maturity level. He got wonderful scores here and ended his season a very high note.
Han Yan had a bit of a rough skate in the free, which I predicted as he tends to struggle under pressure. His teammate Takahito Mura came in third in the free skate after a solid performance.
If you added the scores together, Jason actually placed second overall:
Yuzuru Hanyu: 96.27 + 192.31= 288.58
Jason Brown: 86.48 + 176.69
Han Yan: 87.13 + 163.14= 250.27
Takahito Mura: 82.04 + 165.40= 247.44
I will be back to talk about the ladies : )
Well, I was planning to post an update last night... and it just didn't happen haha. I would love for figure skating to be my full-time job and my only responsibility, but alas, it is not.
So, no one will believe me now that they're over but I actually was predicting Jason Brown to move up in the men's event and for Papadakis and Cizeron to win ice dance again. I swear!! The only surprise to me was that Duhamel and Radford didn't end up in first after the pairs short, but rumor on Twitter has it that Eric was suffering from food poisoning and that is why we didn't see him on camera much at the beginning of the week. They are less than three points behind Sui/Han though and could easily make that up in the free.
I still have to catch up on watching the events so I won't say more on them. Jeez.... this is not the event to miss one night of! Lots to catch up on!
The standings right now:
So, the next event is the pairs free skate. I see Duhamel and Radford overtaking Sui/Han but the other placements staying the same. (And even if 1-2 stays the same, it would have little to no effect on the top 3 team standings). So that would make it:
USA 83+9= 92
RUS 77+10= 87
CHN 59+11= 70
FRA 44+8 = 52
Then, after the ladies predictions I'm making (see below)....
OOooh... so as you can see, it will be a very close race. The only way that Russia could win is if Scimeca and Knieirim finish lower than fourth or Kavagutu/Smirnoff move up to second AND at least one of the American ladies finishes below fourth- OR- both American ladies finish below fourth. The pairs standings seem pretty solid, but there is certainly potential in the ladies event for Gracie and/or Ashley to slip down in the standings.
Hang on to your seats, folks!
Okay, so how do I see this all breaking down in the end?
I think there will be some changes at the top. Not gonna lie, Gracie, I don’t trust you to hold onto a 0.33 lead over the Russians.
I predict Elizaveta Tuktamysheva will skate consistently in the long program (as she has all season) to overtake Gracie to win the gold medal. Liza will probably be hungry after her triple axel fall and complete her comeback season with a win. The judges have loved her LP all year, and I see her getting high enough marks to get 12 points for Team Russia.
This could go either way, but I think Elena Radionova will pull up into silver medal position over Gracie Gold. Elena has been incredibly consistent this season and I think she’ll be firing on all cylinders. We know she is capable of scoring big in the free skate, and she can certainly do it here. At the end of the day, I think she’s less likely to make a mistake than Gracie.
Gracie Gold’s short program lead gives her a good cushion to stay on the podium but I just don’t trust her to skate well enough in last position (the skate order is reverse of the SP finishes) to stay on top of it. She struggles under pressure and skating after other performers have gotten big scores; here she skates after both Russians who are almost guaranteed to put up good numbers. I am thinking she’ll have some confidence after the short and skate well but make at least one mistake to end up in third.
To get on the podium, Ashley Wagner needs a big mistake from Radionova or several mistakes from Gracie and I just don’t think that will happen. I really hope Ashley takes the momentum from the short program, though and runs with it. With a solid skate, she should be safely in fourth place. I’m hoping for a clean 3-3 and bunch of the diva sass she’s known for to send her Moulin Rouge program off on a good note.
I think Satoko Miyahara will rebound from her rough short to overtake Kanako Murakami for fifth. Murakami should be safely in sixth place with a decent skate.
Below the top six, I see those placements mostly remaining, but I’d like to see Mae Berenice move up a spot over her French teammate.
One last post later today with my predictions for the rest of the event, and then we all get to sit back and watch it all happen : )
Well, who would’ve expected this? The Russians are beatable after all!
After the ladies short program, American Gracie Gold (71.26) sits in a surprising first place after throwing down a clean short program, a feat she’s only managed one other time this season. She went back to the red costume from last year, and apparently the costume karma works for her. She posted her season’s best score as well as the highest SP score by any American woman ever. Gracie current style is not my favorite, but my god, she is good when she is on. The jumps were huge and I think I even caught a facial expression or two in there! She was slightly second in TES and PCS to Tuktamysheva, both deserved in my opinion, but has placed first overall with no jump deductions.
Current World Champion Elizaveta Tutktamysheva (70.93) sits in second place after falling on her triple axel attempt. The attempt paid off, though; she got full credit for the rotations and managed to stay only 0.33 points behind Gracie. After the 6,000 competitions she’s been in this year, you gotta give the girl props for having only one fall this season- on a triple axel, for goodness sake. She recovered well and I think she’s still performing at her highest level at this late point in the season, so kudos to her. She slightly bested Gold in TES and PCS, so without the 1 point fall deduction, she’d be in first. She still has an incredibly good shot to win here.
Elena Radionova (68.77) from Russia sits in third place after a clean short program skate. She looked sharp and like she had a bit more spark than she did at Worlds a few weeks ago. Her short program -for me- just lacks the sophistication that the other competitors bring to the table and the GOE on her jumps are not as high as those of Gold and Tuktamysheva. This was a good start for her and I feel like she can easily move up in the long program. She is 2.16 points out of second and 2.49 out of first.
American Ashley Wagner (64.55) also scored a season’s best short program score to place fourth. She got one under rotation call on her triple flip after but the rest of the program was solid. For Ashley, this was a good performance: she got level 4s on her spins as well as getting her first 3Lz-3T combo ratified by international judging. It’s nice to see that she recovered from her Worlds SP and it’s good news that the 3-3 is getting more consistent. She’s 3.22 points from the podium, so there’s a shot she can get that bronze medal spot, but she’d need a great LP and a mistake from above her.
Japanese skaters Kanako Murakami (62.39) and Satoko Miyahara (60.52) are fifth and sixth respectively, after each getting an underrotation call. Satoko only did a double on the end of her 3F combo, but she managed to hold her program together. Kanako had a good skate and it’s nice to see her season ending well.
China’s Zijun Li had a consistent skate to land in 7th, with one jump under rotation. Canada’s Gabrielle Daleman recovered nicely from her disappointing Worlds to have a clean skate in 8th place. Her teammate Alaine Chartrand had her 3-3 downgraded and suffered a jump deduction to finish 9th. France’s Laurine Lecavelier and Mae Berenice Meite sit 10th and 11th ahead of China’s Ziquan Zhao.
I’ll be back in a bit to preview the long program and the final team results after the first three events!
Tomorrow night (or very early Friday morning) the action begins in Tokyo!
Here is a look at the start order for the ladies; the skaters are placed in the reverse order of their ISU World ranking.
Note- I had originally thought Rika Hongo was competing here, but I’m either crazy or that was switched. Kanako Murakami will be the second women’s entry for Japan.
I see the Russians battling for gold- yet again. Though it truly won’t be a battle if Elizaveta can slay that triple axel again. It will certainly be interesting to watch!
In the battle for bronze, it will come down to the Americans and Japan's Satoko Miyahara. Hopefully the start orders bode well for Team USA. Ashley does not like skating last so perhaps starting second out of her warm up group will have her on fresh legs and calmer nerves. Gracie also struggles to perform under pressure and going before the Russians put up big numbers could certainly work in her favor.
It will be interesting to see how the judges would score clean skates from the Americans against a clean Satoko Miyahara. Ashley and Gracie both beat Satoko in the Grand Prix series but Satoko’s silver medal performance at Worlds was higher than either Gracie or Ashley’s season best scores. I feel like the judges were holding Satoko down at the beginning of the year, but will her new World medal change that?
There’s so much action and storylines to watch in each discipline that it is easy to forget there is actually a team competition going on, too haha.
I will be live tweeting Thursday and Saturday night so tweet with me!
Notes on my podium predictions from the last post:
Ladies- I am interested to see Elizaveta Tuktamysheva try her triple axel again in competition. This should give us a good look at how consistent she can be with this big jump. I think Elena Radionova will be in better form than her long program at Worlds, but will again get silver. I picked the Americans to finish ahead of Satoko Miyahara here simply because I think they will be seeking big-time redemption after their disappointing Worlds. I gave Gracie Gold an edge for bronze over Ashley, as she had a stronger long program at Worlds that should give her some confidence. I wouldn't be surprised if Gracie faltered though, and Ashley or Satoko landed on that podium.
Men- Yuzuru Hanyu should easily win in the men's event; there just is no one else competing in his scoring category. I hope he is a bit more prepared in Tokyo than he was at Worlds with more training time behind him. I think a Russian will come in second; (either one will do IMO). They've been good most of the season but struggled at Worlds, so hopefully they bounce back. USA has a great chance at a medal in the men's event if Jason Brown can skate clean. Japan could easily grab a medal here also, but their men have been iffy as of late.
Pairs- The top three I picked should easily be the three on the podium with clean skates. I expect Duhamel and Radford to be clean and consistent for gold, as they have been all season. It could be the Russians in second, but Sui/Han are coming off a wonderful World Championships and I look for them to continue that here and win silver. I do not see Scimeca and Knierim getting on the podium unless some big mistakes are made at the top.
Dance- I hope Papdakis and Cizeron respond well to being the new World Champs and skate well here to cap off their fantastic season with another gold. You can bet that Weaver and Poje will be out for blood after only coming in third at Worlds. I think they'll be hungry and skate well for silver. The Americans, Chock and Bates, should easily round out the top three, but could beat the Canadians again to get a higher step on the podium.
Can't wait to see how it all shakes out this week! I'll be watching and hope you will, too!
This competition occurring so close after the World Championships gives the skaters who did not perform well last month one more chance to prove they can compete on the big stage, and puts an interesting kind of pressure on the newly crowned World medallists who have to defend their titles so soon.
When I break down each discipline, here are my predictions for the final results in the individual competitions:
OVERALL TEAM STANDINGS
I'll do the math for you: If my scenario above, the overall standings would end up:
1. Russia 62 points
2. Japan 50 points
3. USA 48 points
4. Canada 39 points
5. China 34 points
6. France 31 points
In my opinion, Russia is a fair lock for gold considering their strengths in each discipline. If any event were to not go as predicted for Russia, their men can be wildly inconsistent, but the other disciplines' placements should easily keep Russia in the lead if they do falter.
USA and Japan should each be locks for a medal, but it could be a good battle to see what color each will get. My predictions give Japan a slight edge, but a few slip ups from their men could easily change that. The US could take silver if Chock and Bates can beat the Canadians again or if Max Aaron has a strong showing in the men's event.
Mathematically, it would be hard for any of the other three teams to medal.
I'll post some more notes on my podium predictions in another post : )
I have to say I’m pretty excited to see this competition! The season isn’t over quite yet : )
Nine medallists from the recent World Championships will be competing (all except Fernandez, Ten, Pang/Tong) so the talent pool is very strong with several major players in each event.
Here are the qualifiers: Team Russia 8.517 points; Team USA 7.646 points; Team Japan 6,543 points; Team Canda 6,400 points; Team France 4.993 points; 4.360 points
I had to look up the competition format to refresh my memory. In case you need it too- each country will send six entries to the competition: two men, two ladies, one pair and one dance team. The entries receive points for their overall placement after the short and long programs. A first place finish equals 12 points, second is 11, and so on and so forth.
A quick thought on the competition in general- when you look at that point system, it heavily favors the countries with strong single skaters, as there are two entries in each of those categories. This is different from the Olympic team event debuted in Sochi, which had one entry per discipline. I’m not saying the WTT format is bad necessarily, but it does seem that countries with strong dance or pairs teams are shot in the foot if they don’t have the singles to back it up.
Strong in Pairs and/or Ice Dance:
Canada: Leading Team Canada will be World Champion pair Megan Duhamel/Eric Radford, who are still undefeated this season. World bronze medallists in ice dance Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje will be looking for some big time redemption after being beat for the first time this season at Worlds. Gabrielle Daleman and Alaine Chartrand will compete for the women and Nam Nygen and Jeremy Ten for the men.
China: As newly crowned World silver medallists, Sui/Han will be favorites for the medals again in the pair event. Their teammates in ice dance will be Wang/Liu (19th at Worlds). Their best chance in singles could come from either Zijun Li (9th at Worlds) in ladies or Han Yan (10th at Worlds) in mens. Ladies entry Ziquan Zhao and mens entry Nan Song (26th at Worlds) round out Team China.
France: World Champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillame Cizeron will be the headliners for Team France in the ice dance event as they look to defend their still-new World title. James/Cipres (9th at Worlds) will compete in the pairs event. Mae Berenice Meite (10th at Worlds) and Laurinine Lecavlier are France’s entries for the ladies. Mens entries include Florent Amodio (9th at Worlds) and Romain Ponsart.
Strong in Singles:
Team Japan: Reigning World silver medallist Satoko Miyahara will be in the medal mix in the ladies event, along with her teammate Rika Hongo, who placed 6th at Worlds. In the mens event, reigning Olympic champ and World silver medallist Yzuru Hanyu will look to top the podium as the other World podium finishers will be absent. Takahito Mura will join him (16th at Worlds). Cathy Reed/ Chris Reed will compete for Japan (22nd at Worlds) in ice dance and Koga/Boudreau Audet will compete in pairs.
Team Russia: Recent World Champ Elizaveta Tuktamysheva will be the gold medal favorite in the ladies event, triple axel and all. The only woman to beat her this season is her teammate Elena Radionova (3rd at Worlds) who is also competing in Tokyo. In men’s, Sergei Vornov (13th at Worlds) and Maxim Kovtun (7th at Worlds) will represent Russia. In ice dance, Elena Ilinykh and Ruslan Zhigashin (7th at Worlds) look to end their first season together strongly. Reigning European Champs Yuka Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnoff (5th at Worlds) will look to bounce back from a disappointing finish at Worlds to podium here in Tokyo.
Team USA: Gracie Gold (4th at Worlds) and Ashley Wagner (5th at Worlds) will be looking for some redemption after their disappointing short programs at Worlds to battle for a medal in the ladies event. Fourth place finisher from Worlds Jason Brown can also be in the mens medal mix. In an interesting move, Team USA chose Max Aaron for their other mens entry, who did not make the World team and is apparently debuting a new program. Reigning World silver medallists Madison Chock and Evan Bates will hope to stand on the podium in the ice dance competition while Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim (7th at Worlds) will compete in the pairs event.
It certainly could be an exciting competition. With Worlds only a few weeks ago, it will be interesting to see how the athletes are performing- will they be hungover from Worlds and ready to end this long season- or- will they be looking to capitalize on another opportunity to compete and end their season well?
I will be back early next week to preview each discipline and make some predictions!
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