The second edition of the ISU World Team Trophy in Figure Skating opened Thursday in Tokyo, Japan with the Short Dance, Men's and Ladies Short Programs. The six top ranked national teams of the 2011/12 season have qualified for the event. Each team consists of two Men, two Ladies, one Pair and one Ice Dance couple.

Team Japan takes the lead in Tokyo
Team Japan took the lead in Tokyo ahead of Team USA. Both teams scored 45 points, but the two best results broke the tie. Japan finished first in Men's and second in Ladies while the USA had one first place and one third place as their best results. Team France currently sits in third with 35 points.

Daisuke Takahashi was the top scoring Japanese skater with his win in the Men's Short Program. The 2012 World silver medalist hit a quad toe, a triple Axel and triple Lutz-triple toe in his oriental themed program to Garden of the Souls. Takahashi picked up a new personal best score of 94.00 points, which is also the highest Short Program score that has been achieved so far in ISU competition. I had a charity event and TV appearances, so it was mentally tough to prepare. It was a lot of work and I had to overcome the fatigue from Worlds, the 26-year-old said. Overall he was pleased with the showing of his team. After the Men's, team Japan was in fourth place and then we were in first place after the Ladies, and it was a surprise in the end. For the team competition it is difficult to tell the outcome. I am myself not so knowledgeable about pairs and dance. But I think this is what makes this event to interesting. All skaters did their best today and that will be connecting into tomorrow. We have high expectations, Takahashi told the press. Takahiko Kozuka placed 8th. Akiko Suzuki finished second in the Ladies event with a strong performance to Hungarian Rhapsody and a seasons best of 67.51 points. She landed a triple toe-triple toe and a triple Lutz. As I didn't want to repeat the same mistake I did at Worlds, I was so cautious after I landed the triple toe-triple toe. Anyway, I was able to perform my best short program without major mistakes at the end of the season, the reigning World bronze medalist commented. Ice Dancers Cathy Reed/Chris Reed came sixth in the Short Dance at 49.47 points.

Team USA got off to a good start with current World silver medalists Meryl Davis/Charlie White winning the Short Dance. They 2011 World Champions put out a technically strong performance to Samba and Rhuma rhythms, picking up a level four for the twizzles, lift and one Rhumba pattern. The Olympic silver medalists scored 72.18 points. I think we had a really solid skate as far as the technical aspect goes. We knew we wanted to have a lot of fun with the program which we definitely did. It wasn't necessarily the cleanest skate we've had but I think that is ok. We had a lot of fun and that is what this competition is all about. Something that is special about this competition is the team spirit, Davis noted. White agreed and as the team capitain, assessed the performance of the whole team: We're pleased to be basically tied at the top with Japan. I was really proud of how we skated as a whole. Everyone gave their all and skated their hearts out. This is a difficult competition coming after Worlds. I was proud. Obviously, there is a long way to go before the dust settles and the scores are final. But as of now, we can't ask for much more as a team, he explained.
Jeremy Abbott then came third in the Men's event at 86.98 points. His routine to Bei mir bist du schoen and Swing Kids included a triple flip-triple toe combination and a triple Axel. This was the performance I would have loved to have at the World Championships, but better late than never. I wanted to skate for me and for my team. There is always pressure for competition, but you try to put it to the side and focus on yourself and what you have to do. I could hear my team cheering for me really loud. It made me do that much better for me and for them and for my family at home, he commented. Adam Rippon finished 7th at 74.93 points. In the Ladies category, Gracie Gold finished fourth. She pulled off a triple flip-triple toe combination (59.07 points) and Ashley Wagner missed the double Axel to place fifth (57.52 points).

Ice Dancers Nathalie Pechalat/Fabian Bourzat lead the French team to their third-place finish on Day One. The World bronze medalists put out an upbeat Samba and collected a level four for the curve lift and one Rhumba section, but he wobbled on the twizzles. Right before our last part, I saw how the French team cheered for us, and it really pushed me. This event is about having fun, and it was the very last time for us to perform this short dance and so we gave it everything, Pechalat commented. Yes, that was a close call. I was a little tired, but I didn't put my foot down. We saved it. It was just a little error and it didn't affect the program, added Bourzat. At the end it was such a good surprise to be third. It was unexpected, Pechalat, who also serves as the team capitain, continued. We were here to have fun and just to enjoy. The thing is that every team has such good skaters so nobody can say what will happen in the competition. So it is very exciting. We try to keep it like that and do our best, especially in the (team) boxes.
Brian Joubert and Florent Amodio scored for France by finishing fourth and fifth. Joubert pulled off a quad-triple toe combination, triple Axel and triple Lutz to score 84.69 points while Amodio landed a quad Salchow and triple Lutz-triple toe combination and a somewhat shaky triple Axel (81.84 points). I found my confidence again. In Nice it was great, but today it was even better. My jumps were very clean. The quad toe was very good in practice. I made no mistakes and I felt good in the program. I am going for two quads in the free skating. It is like a practice for the next season, Joubert said. Yretha Silete sits in 7
th in the Ladies event with a clean program and 54.83 points. Mae-Berenice Meite finished 11th in the Short Program.

Team Canada is currently ranked fourth with 33 points. World Ice Dance Champions Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir and World Champion Patrick Chan came second in their events. Chan missed the triple Axel but still got a seasons best of 89.81 points.

World Champion Carolina Kostner led Team Italy to fifth place on the first day. Kostner won the Ladies Short Program with a clean performance and a seasons best of 69.48 points.

Team Russia came sixth. 2011 World Junior Champion Adelina Sotnikova's sixth place in the Ladies Short Program was their best result. 2012 World silver medalist Alena Leonova disappointed. She popped the flip and underrotated her triple toe-triple toe combination.

The ISU World Team Trophy in Figure Skating continues Friday with the Pairs Short Program, Free Dance and Men's Free Skating.