Chen edges out Zhou as USA strengthen grip on World Team Trophy

Double world champion Nathan Chen led a USA 1-2 after ice dance champs Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron lit up Day 2 in Fukuoka.

Vincent Zhou produced the skate of his life, but it was not quite enough to beat Nathan Chen at the World Team Trophy on Friday.

Skating last, Chen had his hand down on a triple axel and finished with a lower technical elements score than his USA team-mate.

But the double world champion's superior presentation marks saw him take victory in the men's event by just 0.99 points as the Americans secured another one-two ahead of Shoma Uno.

That result makes the United States hot favourites to regain the title as they take a 12-point lead over hosts Japan into Saturday's final two events.

Nathan Chen edged out Vincent Zhou to take the free skate at the World Team Trophy
Nathan Chen edged out Vincent Zhou to take the free skate at the World Team TrophyNathan Chen edged out Vincent Zhou to take the free skate at the World Team Trophy

American duo dominate again

Canada's Keegan Messing returned to form with a personal best free skate after a disappointing World Championships and ninth place in Thursday's short program.

He was the best of the rest outside the big three ahead of Italy's Matteo Rizzo - who was unable to repeat the heroics of his 2019 Universiade victory - and Japan's Keiji Tanaka.

That meant Uno had to deliver if Japan were to keep alive any realistic hope of retaining their title.

The Olympic silver medallist started with an excellent quad flip into triple toeloop combination followed by another quad flip with the crowd applauding his every element.

Things soon went awry for the Four Continents champion as he put a hand down on a quad Salchow before falling as he tried to complete an audacious triple Axel into quad toeloop combo.

But it was a notable improvement on his World Championship free skate as he set the target with 189.46.

Japan's Shoma Uno took third place for the second day running at the World Team Trophy
Japan's Shoma Uno took third place for the second day running at the World Team TrophyJapan's Shoma Uno took third place for the second day running at the World Team Trophy

Then came the two Americans with world bronze medallist Zhou opening with a quad Lutz followed by a quad Salchow.

The 18-year-old has really come of age in recent weeks and a quad toeloop made it three quads in a clean routine.

He knew how well he had skated, pumping his fists and slapping the ice with delight at the end of his routine before bowing to the crowd.

Vincent Zhou's personal best free skate saw him take second in the World Team Trophy
Vincent Zhou's personal best free skate saw him take second in the World Team TrophyVincent Zhou's personal best free skate saw him take second in the World Team Trophy

The judges were impressed too, awarding him a huge personal best of 198.50 which only Chen and Yuzuru Hanyu have bettered.

That left just the double world champion to go, and he started well with an effortless quad toeloop into triple toeloop combination the early highlight.

But Chen all but fell on a triple Axel and the lower difficulty of his routine compared to his Saitama free skate meant it would be a close call for the winner.

And the 19-year-old's superior presentation marks saw him score 199.49 for a double triumph in Fukuoka to cap a wonderful season.

Papadakis and Cizeron reign supreme

Earlier, Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron had wowed Fukuoka with a world record free dance.

France's Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron took victory in the World Team Trophy ice dance free dance
France's Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron took victory in the World Team Trophy ice dance free danceFrance's Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron took victory in the World Team Trophy ice dance free dance

France's four-time ice dance world champions were simply sublime as they followed up their victory in Thursday's rhythm dance.

The free dance was all about the last three pairs who all stood on the podium at last month's World Championships.

All three received standing ovations from the crowd inside the Marine Messe Fukuoka with USA's Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donoghue scoring 127.11, just two-tenths of a point shy of their personal best.

They were quickly displaced by Saitama silver medallists Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov who put together a near-flawless routine.

Second again for Russia's Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov in the World Team Trophy ice dance rhythm dance
Second again for Russia's Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov in the World Team Trophy ice dance rhythm danceSecond again for Russia's Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov in the World Team Trophy ice dance rhythm dance

Both Russians punched the air at the end of their skate which earned them a new personal best of 130.63 and put the pressure on the French pair.

But that mattered not to Papadakis and Cizeron.

Skating to Duet and Sunday Afternoon by Rachael Yamagata, the Olympic silver medallists from PyeongChang posted a score of 135.82 to beat their world record of 134.23 from the World Championships.

Russia take first win through Zabiiako and Enbert

Natalia Zabiiako and Alexander Enbert gave Russia the perfect start to day two with victory in the pairs' short program.

They posted a personal best short program to take victory ahead of France's European champions Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres.

Russia's Natalia Zabiiako and Alexander Enbert took the pairs short program at the World Team Trophy
Russia's Natalia Zabiiako and Alexander Enbert took the pairs short program at the World Team TrophyRussia's Natalia Zabiiako and Alexander Enbert took the pairs short program at the World Team Trophy

James and Cipres had been expected to challenge for gold at last month's World Championships after claiming their first European title in Minsk in January.

But James fell in a disappointing short program which left them down in seventh and they ended up in fifth place.

And while they were far from perfect here, there were no serious errors as they improved on their Saitama showing with a score of 73.48.

Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres of France took second in the World Team Trophy pairs short program
Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres of France took second in the World Team Trophy pairs short programVanessa James and Morgan Cipres of France took second in the World Team Trophy pairs short program

Zabiiako and Enbert were last to go, and needed to be at their best to overhaul the French duo.

Skating to Prokofiev's Alexander Nevsky, they delivered a near-perfect routine to score 75.80, improving on their previous best from December's Grand Prix Final.

Italy's Nicole Delle Monica and Matteo Guarise, who collided with James in practice at the World Championships, won the competition within a competition for third place.

The pair, who were seventh in Saitama, scored 69.77 to finish ahead of Canada's Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro with American pair Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc just behind in fifth.

Japan's Riku Miura and Shoya Ichihashi were sixth.

World Team Trophy standings (after six rounds of eight):

United States 91 points

Japan 79

Russia 70

Canada 59

France 54

Italy 52

Schedule (all times Fukuoka local, GMT+9)

Saturday 13 April

1515 Pairs free skate

1650 Ladies' singles free skate

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