The U.S. men, ladies and ice dancers combined for a two-point lead over the rest of the field at the World Team Trophy in Fukuoka, Japan overnight Thursday.
Nathan Chen won the men’s short program to earn 12 points for the U.S., while Vincent Zhou finished right behind him to earn 11 points. Last month in Japan, Chen defended his world title while Zhou joined him on the podium with a bronze medal.
Two-time U.S. champions Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue placed third in the rhythm dance to earn the U.S. 10 points.
And to wrap up the action in the first session, Bradie Tennell finished fourth and Mariah Bell finished seventh in the ladies’ short program. Notably, both Rika Kihira from Japan and Elizaveta Tuktamysheva of Russia landed triple Axels in their short programs. Kihira won the Grand Prix Final in December and Tuktamysheva was the 2015 world champion.
Full results are here. Japan sits in second place with 48 points and Russia is currently third with 38 points. U.S. teams have won medals in all five editions of the World Team Trophy, held every odd-numbered year at the end of the season.
“This is my first time at a team event and what a great way to start,” team captain Hubbell said through U.S. Figure Skating. “Team USA had all very strong performances. We have a team of Olympic members, U.S. champions, World medalists and World Team members. Today showed how strong of a team we are.”
The event also has a reputation for being a fun end-of-season event for skaters, where they can cheer for teammates in their boxes, similar to the way the team event works at the Olympics.
As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2018-19 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.
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