by Anne Calder | Photo by Robin Ritoss

The fifth World Team Trophy (WTT) was held at Yoyogi National Stadium in Tokyo, Japan before a three-day audience of 28,000 cheering fans. The April 2017 event, which was first held in 2009 after the World Championships, included the top six 2016-2017 countries determined by points earned at the World Championships, Europeans/Four Continents, World Junior Championships, Grand Prix Final, Grand Prix and Junior Grand Prix. It included Canada, China, France, Japan, Russia, and the United States.

Since the inaugural event, the competing countries have been the same, except for 2012, when Italy replaced China. No event was held in the 2010 and 2014 Olympic years. In addition, the 2011 event was cancelled after the devastating Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. In 2016, the Team Challenge Cup was held in April in Spokane, WA USA.

Prize money provided by the host (JSF) totaling $1,000,000 (US) was awarded to the teams.

A short and free program was skated by (2) Ladies, (2) Men, (1) Pair Couple and (1) Dance Couple from each team. Placement points were awarded; the totals determined the final results.

The 2017 World Team Trophy (WTT) gold medal was awarded to Japan (109 points), followed by the silver to Russia (105 points), and the bronze to defending champion USA (97 points). Canada placed fourth (87 points), followed in fifth place by China (80 points) and sixth by France (62 points).

The teams included 2017 World medalists Yuzuru Hanyu and Shoma Uno (JPN) Boyang Jin (CHN) Evgenia Medvedeva (RUS), Gabrielle Daleman (CAN), and Evgenia Tarosova & Vladimir Morozov (RUS). The 2017 World Ice Dance podium winners did not participate.

The Ice Dance competitors and their total scores were: Canadians Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje (190.56)*, Americans Madison Chock & Evan Bates (189.01)*, Russians Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev (173.49), Chinese Shiyue Wang & Xinyu Liu (158.36)*, Japanese Kana Muramoto & Chris Reed (156.45)*, and the French team of Marie-Jade Lauriault & Romain Le Gac (154.36)*.  Though scores were not added together as part of the official event results, all seasons best marks received at this event were eligible to be added to the ISU’s 2016-17 Seasons Best list.

Kaitlyn Weaver and Ekaterina Bobrova were both captains of their WTT teams. Each wanted a first event victory for their countries. Chock & Bates wanted to help the USA defend its 2015 title.

In the short dance, Chock & Bates skated a seamless blues and hip-hop performance and earned level 4 for all but one of their elements. The program scored 79.05*. Weaver & Poje were second with a spunky Michael Jackson blues and hip-hop that earned three level 4 marks. The Canadians scored 76.73*. The third place Russians lost points after a Soloviev bobble on the first twizzle that received a level 2. Their lift and blues pattern were level 4. The program scored 68.94 – 7.24 points lower than their season best.

The remaining couples were: Shiyue Wang & Xinyu Liu (CHN) 64.03*, Kana Muramoto & Chris Reed (JPN) 63.77*, and Marie-Jade Lauriault & Romain Le Gac (FRA) 61.44.

All six couples earned level 3 for their not-touching step sequence.

The free dance belonged to Weaver & Poje. The two-time Grand Prix Final gold medalists completed their season of change with an elegant interpretation of Joaquin Rodrigo’s Concierto Aranjuez, performed by Il Divo that scored 113.83*. Six of seven elements earned level 4. The total 190.56* catapulted them to the top position.

The American two-time World medalists lost points when Bates stepped out of a twizzle transition in the serpentine step sequence, which earned a level 3. The remaining six elements were level 4. Their “Under Pressure” program choreographed by Christopher Dean earned 109.96, placing them behind the Canadians. The total score was 189.02*.

Bobrova & Soloviev earned 104.55 for their performance to Chopin and The New Four Seasons arranged by Nigel Kennedy. The lifts, spin and twizzles were level 4; the footwork was level 3. The team placed third with 173.49 points.

Wang & Liu (CHN) danced a perky Broadway-style “New York, New York” and scored 94.33*; Lauriault & Le Gac (FRA) moved up a notch with an Elton John medley that scored 92.92* and Muramoto & Reed danced a tango that scored 92.68*.

* Personal Best Scores