Figure Skating

Everything you need to know about the 2019 ISU World Team Trophy of figure skating

Nathan Chen, Shoma Uno and Rika Kihira set to compete at season-ending competition in Fukuoka

By Ashlee Tulloch ·

A thrilling figure skating season is set to conclude at the ISU World Team Trophy this week in Fukuoka, Japan.

Skaters from Canada, France, Italy, Japan, Russia, and USA will compete from 11 - 14 April in the sixth edition of the event.

While Russia topped the list of the six qualified nations, hosts Japan will be hoping to strike gold again after winning the competition in 2012 and 2017. They'll also be relying on Olympic silver medallist Shoma Uno, in the absence of injured Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu.

After defending his men's singles world title in Saitama, 19-year-old Nathan Chen will headline the American team. Team USA is the only nation, other than Japan, to have won the title since it was first contested in 2009.

The skaters earn points based on their programs, and the country with the highest combined score takes home gold.

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Shoma carrying home hopes

Team Japan will be spearheaded by Shoma Uno and Keiji Tanaka.

The defending champions and hosts are missing injured star, double Olympic Champion Yuzuru Hanyu.

The 24-year-old won silver at the 2019 World Championships despite an ongoing ankle injury causing "pain and inflammation" in his ankle joint.

The Japanese Skating Federation says he faces "two to three months of treatment."

Uno, along with this season's breakout star Rika Kihira on the ladies' side, will be looking to bounce back from fourth place finishes in Saitama last month.

Reigning national champion Kaori Sakamoto completes the Japanese ladies field, while the pairs skaters are Riku Miura and Shoya Ichihashi.

As well as captaining the side, ice dancer Misato Komatsubara competes with Tim Koleto to round out the hosts' side.

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Team USA

The Americans looking to win their fourth team championship gold will be captained by Madison Hubbell, who joins Zachary Donohue, with whom she claimed ice dance bronze in Saitama.

World bronze medallist Vincent Zhou joins two-time world champion Chen as the second male skater for the U.S.

Mariah Bell and Bradie Tennell were selected as the ladies skaters, while Ashley Cain and Timothy LeDuc are the pair.

Speaking to Olympic Channel's Meryl Davis after winning bronze at Worlds, Hubbell said: "Zach and I have progressed so much in our partnership this year. To be able to skate an emotionally strong performance as well as a technically strong performance, it's what every athlete wants."

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Russian reshuffle

The Russian team qualified for the season's final competition with the highest score, but will be aiming to go one better than their second place in 2017 without several stars.

Olympic and world champion Alina Zagitova and Olympic silver medallist Evgenia Medvedeva will be sitting out the competition.

For the ladies' competition, the Russians have chosen 2015 world champion Elizaveta Tuktamysheva and European champion Sofia Samodurova to try to win Russia's first World Team Trophy gold.

In the men's entry, PyeongChang 2018 silver medal-winning team member Mikhail Kolyada has been replaced by Andrei Lazukin due to recurring sinusitis.

Lazukin's selection comes after he finished 10th at the World Champs last month. The 21-year old joins European men's silver medallist Alexander Samarin, Natalia Zabiiako and Alexander Enbert.

The Russian side will be captained by Sochi 2014 team gold medallist Nikita Katsalapov, who will compete with ice dance partner Victoria Sinitsina.

French comeback

If Olympic silver medallists Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron can continue their unbeaten streak this season, it'll go a long way to helping France's chances of claiming their first World Team Trophy title.

They'll also need pairs skaters and reigning Grand Prix Final and European champions Morgan Cipres and Vanessa James to bounce back from a disappointing World Championships in Saitama.

James crashed into Italy's Matteo Guarise during a warm-up and then fell in the short program, finishing fifth overall.

Kevin Aymoz, Adam Siao Him Fa, Laurine Lecavelier, and two-time Olympian Mae-Berenice Meite will also join them.

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Canada and Italy

The Canadian team will be captained by Andrew Poje, joined by Kaitlyn Weaver in the ice dance. Keegan Messing, Nam Nguyen, Alaine Chartrand, Gabrielle Daleman, and the pair of Kirsten Moore-Towers and Michael Marinaro make up the rest of the team.

European bronze medallist Matteo Rizzo is the big hope for Italy. After taking the Winter Universiade men's title in Russia last month, the 2019 European bronze medallist finished seventh at the World Championships.

The Italians are captained by Marco Fabbri who will compete in the ice dance with Charlene Guignard. The Italian team also includes Nicole Della Monica and Matteo Guarise, Daniel Grassl, Marina Piredda, and Roberta Rodeghiero.