United States survive Russia blitz to claim gold at World Team Trophy
World champion Elizaveta Tuktamysheva produced a majestic display to win the women’s free skate at the World Team Trophy on Saturday but the United States pipped Russia to the title.
Tuktamysheva’s poise and elegance swept her to a top score of 134.21 points after Japan’s world silver medallist Satoko Miyahara had brought the Tokyo crowd to its feet with a sparkling “Miss Saigon” routine.
However, Gracie Gold’s final skate was just good enough to give the Americans a winning total of 110 points to Russia’s 109, with hosts Japan finishing third of the six teams at the season-ending event on 103.
Canada took fourth on 82 points with China on 77 and France 59.
After a final day of fluctuating fortunes, Miyahara and Kanako Murakami briefly put Japan in the driving seat until Elena Radionova and Tuktamysheva took to the ice.
Radionova overhauled Miyahara’s season-best 129.12 with a score of 129.73 to take second behind Tuktamysheva, who skated to gold at the world championships in Shanghai two weeks ago.
“It was so much more stressful watching than actually skating,” said American team captain Evan Bates. “Especially when the ladies were skating — they were some of the most nerve-wracking moments I can remember.
“To have our fate tied together like that is the essence of this event and it’s wonderful,” he added.
Earlier, world champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada somewhat controversially won the pairs free skate, edging out China’s Sui Wenjing and Han Cong in a repeat of their victory in Shanghai.
The pint-sized Miyahara, who charmed fans skating in a red dress decorated with sequins, rated her performance as better than in China.
“Of course there’s extra pressure because it’s a team event,” said the 17-year-old. “But I didn’t make any mistakes with my jumps as I did at the world championships, so it was a nice way to finish the season.”
Miyahara was cheered on in Japan’s box by Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu, who had dominated the men’s free and short programs to end a bruising season on a positive note, having recently lost his world title to Spain’s Javier Fer- nandez in China.
In the pairs, Duhamel and Radford earned 140.70 points to 139.73 for Sui and Han, despite Duhamel falling on a quad throw and crash-landing a triple toeloop.
The Chinese, who had won the short program, looked stunned in the kiss and cry area as the judges announced their score to audible gasps from a sympathetic Japanese crowd.
American sweethearts Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim took third with a career-best 127.87.
Canada’s Meagan Duhamel (top) and Eric Radford perform during the free skating in the pairs event at the ISU World Team Trophy figure skating competition in Tokyo on Saturday, April 18.