The “Final” ISU event prior to the 2014 Olympic Winter Games got under way Thursday from Marina Messe Arena in Fukuoka, Japan. Team USA is represented in five events over the junior and senior ranks at the 2013 Grand Prix and Junior Grand finals.
Ashley Wagner is in position to win her second straight Grand Prix Final medal as she sits in a close third place after the short program. Wagner’s clean “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” performance featured her best triple flip-triple toe combination of the season – an element which accounted for 10.20 of her 68.14 points.
“It was awesome,” she said simply after the program. “I am so happy with the performance. The flip-toe felt great, the spins felt really great. I feel really good. I wish the score had been higher, we’ll see what happens in the protocol. But so far so good.”
Japan’s Mao Asada leads with 72.36 points. Wagner very narrowly trails Russia’s Adelina Sotnikova, who totaled 68.38 points.
Nathan Chen, who came into the event as the No. 1 seeded skater, sits in a close third place after the short program. Despite falling on the second half of his triple Lutz-triple toe combo, Chen is just two points behind the leader Keiji Tanaka from Japan. The aforementioned element still received 9.11 points and the program’s remaining six elements all received positive GOEs. Chen’s total score was 71.52 points. Tanaka earned a season-high of 73.63 points in front of the home crowd. Russia’s Adian Pitkeev is in second.
Thursday’s action began with the junior ladies short program, in which Team USA has a pair of entries. Polina Edmunds and Angela Wang, who is competing in here second JGP Final, are in fifth and sixth places, respectively. Both ladies struggled with their jumps and shared the sentiment of hoping for a stronger showing in Friday’s free skate.
Wang said simply, “I want to skate better and show what I have been doing in training.”
A quartet of Russian ladies make up the top four and is led by Maria Sotskova with 61.29 points.
The leaders are as follows in the events where Team USA is not represented:
Junior pairs: Xiaoyu Yu and Yang Jing (China) 61.10 points
Senior men: Yuzuru Hanyu (Japan) 99.84 points
Friday will be another busy day for the Americans with the conclusion of the junior ladies and men’s events and the senior short dance featuring four time reigning Grand Prix Final champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White. Davis and White are undefeated dating back to 2012 Skate America and have won three gold medals this season.
The junior ice dancers still have a day to wait. Their events are set for Saturday and Sunday.
Friday, Dec. 6
12:30 a.m. – Junior ladies free (LIVE)
Wang – 12:37 a.m.
Edmunds – 12:44 a.m.
1:40 a.m. – Junior men’s free (LIVE)
Chen – 2:11 a.m.
3 a.m. – Senior pairs short (LIVE)
4:15 a.m. – Senior short dance (LIVE)
Davis and White – 5:01 a.m.
5:30 a.m. – Senior men’s free (LIVE)
6:50 a.m. – Junior pairs short (LIVE)
Saturday, Dec. 7
1 a.m. – Junior short dance (LIVE)
Parsons and Parsons – 1:06 a.m.
McNarara and Carpenter – 5:33 a.m.
Hawayek and Baker – 5:39 a.m.
2:15 a.m. – Senior pairs free (LIVE)
3:50 a.m. – Senior free dance (LIVE)
5:20 a.m. – Senior ladies free (LIVE)
Wagner – 5:51 a.m.
10:15 p.m. – Junior free dance (LIVE)
UNIVERSAL SPORTS NETWORK 2013 GRAND PRIX FINAL BROADCAST SCHEDULE
(All times Eastern; subject to change)
Thursday, Dec. 5
6 p.m. – Men’s short
8 p.m. – Ladies short
Friday, Dec. 6
11 a.m. – Pairs short
6 p.m. – Short dance
Saturday, Dec. 7
11 a.m. – Pairs free
Noon – Free dance