Two-time men’s world champion Nathan Chen helped the United States establish a lead over 2017 winners Japan and Russia as the International Skating Union’s World Team Trophy opened in Fukuoka today.
The US skaters collected 50 points on day one, while Japan earned 48 and Russia 38.
Team USA were third heading into the final event, the men’s short programme, which turned out to be their strongest discipline as Chen won and his team-mate Vincent Zhou, the 2019 world bronze medallist, finished first and second, respectively, to push their team into first place.
This biennial tournament invites the six top nations to send a team consisting of two men, two women, one pair and one dance team.
With the Japan Skating Federation always hosting the event, it has moved away from Tokyo for the first time in its 10-year history.
This year, teams from Russia, the United States, Japan, France, Italy and Canada are competing at Marine Messe Fukuoka.
Earlier in the day, Team USA’s 2019 world ice dance bronze medallists Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue had scored 10 points in placing third in the rhythm dance, while their colleagues Bradie Tennell and Mariah Bell finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in the ladies’ short programme.
“This is my first time at a team event and what a great way to start,” said team captain Hubbell.
“We have a team of Olympic team members, national champions, world medallists, all world team members.
“We knew we were strong going in and we wanted to fight together as a team and to show how strong we are.”
Japan’s ISU Grand Prix final champion Rika Kihira won the women’s short programme with 83.97 points.
And the home team’s defending champion in the men’s short programme, Shoma Uno, finished third after struggling with the landing of one of his quadruple jumps.
Russia led after the ladies, but then fell behind Japan and the US in the men’s short programme.
World ice dance silver medallists Victoria Sinitskina and Nikita Katsalapov had given their team 11 points by ending second in the rhythm dance.
Team France finished the day in fourth on 27 points, with 2019 world ice dance champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron winning the rhythm dance with 87.31 points.
Team Canada are fifth on 26 points.
Competition continues tomorrow with the pairs short programme, free dance and men's free skating.