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U.S. World Team Has Worst Result Since 1994
(29 March 2014) The U.S. World Team had it's worst result since 1994, the last time a U.S. did not win a single medal at Worlds. As in 1994, the best the U.S. could accomplish this year was to have skaters reaching fifth place. And one should keep in mind that if the all the medalists from Sochi had competed here, U.S. skaters in all events would have placed one to two places lower. Season best performances by Ashley Wagner and Jeremy Abbott helped the U.S. to earn three spots at 2015 Worlds in the ladies, men's and dance events. The U.S. will have two entries in pairs in 2015. With the season now at an end it's now time for U.S. Figure Skating to conduct a post-mortem and come up with a four year plan to reverse the slide in competitiveness of the U.S. World team on the international stage.
Cappallini & Lanotte Squeak Out Victory in Ice Dance, Asada Wins Third World Title
(29 March 2014) The top three dance couples reversed their order of finish in the Free Dance, compared to the Short Dance, but it was the result in the short that determined the order of finish, while Russian coulpe Elena Ilinykh & Nikita Katsakapov won the free and yet did not medal. Six hundredths of a point separated the top three couples. U.S. couples Madison Chock & Evan Bates placed fifth while the Shibutanies placed sixth, earning the U.S. three places in dance for next year. Alexandra Aldridge & Danielle Eaton placed 17th.
Mao Asada won her third World title, placing first in both the short and the long. Russian's Julia Lipnitskaia took the silver, while Italy's Carolina Kostner took the bronze. Kostner had major errors on three jumps, but pushed though to earn the highest component scores of the group. For the U.S team, Gracie Gold dropped to seventh in the free to finish fifth overall, thanks to her marks in the short. Ashley Wagner and Polina Edmunds both moved up in the free to finish seventh and eight overall. The U.S. earned three spots in the ladies event for next year's Worlds.
Anna Cappellin1 & Luca Lanotte Take Lead in Short Dance, Yuzuru Hanyu Now World Champion
(28 March 2014) Italian couple Ann Cappellini took the lead in the Short Dance moving ahead of Canadians Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje and the French couple Nathalie Bourzat & Fabian Pechelat. Compared to the results from Sochi this is a considerable improvement in position for the Italians and Canadians, and a setback for the French couple. Madison Chock & Evan Bated hold fourth position while Maia and Alex Shibutani placed sixth. Alexandra Aldridge & Daniel Eaton, who fill out the U.S. dance entries in place of Meryl Davis & Charlie White, placed 18th.
Yuzuru Hanyu overcame a seven point deficit after the Short to claim the world title. Tatsuki Machida took the silver medal. Hanyu's training-mate, Javier Fernandez won the bronze. It was good day for "team Orser." Jeremy Abbott gave an inspired performance to place fifth, while an fortunately over-scored Max Aaron placed eight. With a combined total of 13, the U.S. skaters qualified the U.S. for three spots in the Men's event at the 2015 championships.
Savchenko & Szolkowy Claim Fifth World Title, Asada Skates Flawless Short Program
(27 March 2014) Veteran German pair team Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy claimed their fifth world pairs title in a cleanly skated farewell performance. Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov won the silver while Megan Duhamel & Eric Radford placed fourth in the free skate, but won the bronze on the greater strength of their short program result. U.S. team Marissa Castelli & Simon Shnapir placed 11th while Felica Zhang & Nathan Bartholomy placed 14th, The U.S. earned two spots for 2015 Worlds.
Mao Asada skated a flawless short program in the ladies event, an earned a world record score for the short program. She also landed a truly clean triple Axel, the first we have seen in a long time. No doubt about this one. Carolina Kostner gave a emotional performance to place second while Julia Lipnitskaya placed third. it was a magical evening with the fifth warm-up group delivering one outstanding performance after another. The U.S. ladies, Gracie Gold, Ashley Wagner and Polina Edmunds placed fifth,seventh and twelfth.
Upset in Men's Short Program
(26 March 2014) Tatsuki Machida pulls off upset victory in short program to lead in Men's event. Yuzuku Hanyo currently sits third, 7 points back. Javier Fernandez sits second. After the short program Michal Brezina withdrew due to injury. Brezina twisted his right ankle on the take-off of a planned triple flip. He received medical attention after his performance and decided to withdraw. “I pulled a ligament and I can’t even put my full weight on the foot. It won’t heal in two days. I could try to push through it, but I might make it worse”, Brezina said. He had placed 23rd in the short. Due to his withdrawal, 23 men will skate the long on Friday. Jeremy Abbott and Max Aaron hold 8th and 9th places. Combine places of the two entries must not exceed 28 for the U.S. to have two entries at the 2015 World Championships.
Alinoa Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy take a two point lead in the Pairs Short Program. They are followed by Canadians Megan Duhamal & Eric Radford. Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov sit third, three points back. U.S. teams Marissa Castelli & Simon Shnapir and Felicia Zhang & Nathan Bartholomay hold 11th and 14th places.
Saitama Super Arena Offers Outstanding Venue for World Championships
(25 March 2014) The venue for the World Championships is the Saitama Super Arena, which opened in 2000, and was built at a cost of about 200 million dollars. The arena has reconfigurable walls and seats. When set up as a single performance space the arena seats 37,000. As set up for the championships, the building is subdivided into the main arena, seating 18,000, and a practice arena area, currently set up with seating for about one thousand.
Using a method we have not seen at previous competitions, the ice is maintained with a fleet of "munchkin" (miniature) ice resurfacing machines. Five of these machines are used at once. Three do a dry cut, while two others follow just behind and lay down water and do a wet cut.
The main sign of the arena's age (and that it is located in an active earthquake zone) is that the concrete is riddled with large cracks that are filled with epoxy. The seating area, nevertheless, is comfortable and well lit, and the ice quality looks excellent. The sound is great too, as the arenas was designed to be a venue for concerts.
The arena area does not include hotels of the necessary size. While many of the media wonks are holed up in the local small hotels, the official hotel is in Shinjuko, a ward on the north side of Tokyo, a 45-60 minute bus ride away, depending on traffic. One can also get to the arena from Shinjuko by train, though that is a bit of a trek, having to change trains at least once, if not twice, and also takes 45-60 minutes. In an unique arrangement, the hosts have set up some sleeping areas in the arena for the adventurous coaches or organizers who have to stay late in the evening and also have to be back at the arena first thing the next morning.
We have been here since Sunday evening, and thus far the organization of everything we have seen has been first rate. The competition is currently a sell out.
(25 March 2014) Competition begins at the 2014 World Figure Skating Championships
in Saitama, Japan, on Wednesday, March 26. Skaters have been
participating in official practice sessions since Monday, March 24.
Saitama is a city of 1.2 million about 15 miles north of central
Tokyo and is the capital of the Saitama prefecture. The World
Figure Skating Championships have previously been held in Japan five
times before: in Tokyo (2007, 1985, 1977), in Nagano (2002) and in Makuhari (1994)
The Men’s competition includes several top contenders, but does not include the reigning World Champion Patrick Chan (CAN) who decided not to compete after the recent Olympic Winter Games. Newly crowned Olympic Champion Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) is looking for his first World title on home turf. He is the only 2014 Olympic medalist who decided to compete at these Championships. Other podium contenders include two-time European Champion Javier Fernandez (ESP), Tatsuki Machida (JPN), Han Yan (CHN), and Maxim Kovtun (RUS),
2014 Olympic bronze medalist Carolina Kostner (ITA) is the top-ranked Lady in Saitama. The 2012 World Champion earned a seasons best of 216.73 points in Sochi at the Olympic Winter Games. Competition for the ladies podium should come from European Champion Julia Lipnitskaia (RUS), two-time World Champion Mao Asada (JPN) and U.S. Champion Gracie Gold. With a fourth place finish in Sochi, and the top two Ladies from Sochi not competing here, Gold has an excellent chance to make the podium in the Ladies event.
Mao Asada aims to leap onto the podium in Saitama
Four-time World Champions and two-time Olympic bronze medalists Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy (GER) and Olympic silver medalists Ksenia Stolbova & Fedor Klimov (RUS) are the highest two ranked team in the Pairs event. Reigning Four Continents Champions Wenjing Sui & Cong Han (CHN), 2013 World bronze medalists Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford (CAN) and Kirsten Moore-Towers & Dylan Moscovitch (CAN) have a shot at the podium as well. Duhamel & Radford had a disappointing result in Sochi and would surely like to redeem themselves and work their way back up in the standings.
The Ice Dance will be missing the Olympic and World Champions Meryl Davis & Charlie White (USA) and Olympic and World silver medalists Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir (CAN). Olympic bronze medalists Elena Ilinykh & Nikita Katsalapov (RUS) appear to be the couple to beat. Their primary challenge should come from Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat (FRA), 2013 World bronze medalists Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev (RUS), who placed fifth in Sochi.
Prize money of US$ 710,000 will be awarded to skaters/couples who place 1st to 12th. The prize money is awarded as follows:
Even with several medalists from Sochi not competing here, the outlook for the U.S. World Team looks grim. Gracie Gold is the best hope for a U.S. medal. Even making the top five (fourth or fifth) may prove difficult in the other event, and the main goal of the U.S. team would appear to be to bring home two slots for the 2015 World Team in each discipline. The wild card on the U.S. team are ice dancers Alexandra Aldridge & Daniel Eaton who did not compete in Sochi.
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