It’s the second day of competition at the Team Challenge Cup today, April 23, 2016 with the pairs and ice dance taking to the ice for their only event, the free skate and free dance. It was an exciting competition, with each of the teams displaying quite a bit of team spirit. In the end, Team North America is in the lead, heading into the ladies and mens free skate tonight.
The first group of pair skaters to face-off was Sumire Suto and Francis Boudreau-Audet representing Team Asia, next came Nicole Della Monica and Matteo Guarise from Team Europe and finally it was Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim from Team North America. Even though Alexa and Chris struggled on their side-by-side jumps, it was enough to put them at the top of their group. “Today was more about personal growth and enjoying the last time hearing this music,” Alexa said in the Mixed Zone. “For us, it wasn’t so much about being perfect, and that’s what I think carried us through, because after the jumps in the first part of the program, I think the second half was amazing.”
The second and final pair group that competed against each other was Xuehan Wang and Lei Wang representing Team Asia, Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov for Team Europe and newly crowned world champions, Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford for Team North America. After fighting injuries this season, Stolbova and Klimov made a few mistakes including a fall by Stolbova on the throw triple salchow and trouble with their side-by-side triple salchows.
Though there were some tough competitors it was Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford who prevailed, coming in first place not only in their group, but also in the entire pairs event with a total of 147.48 points. Duhamel and Radford have not completed a full free skate since Boston, but since they are use to doing full run throughs on a daily basis they were able to pull off a great performance.
Meagan and Eric had decided that they wouldn’t do the throw quad if they had trouble on the landing of their side-by-sde triple lutz jumps. Meagan stepped out of the triple lutz, but right before the element she looked over at Eric and said, “Let’s go for it.” They landed yet another great quad salchow in this event and plan to continue working on the throw quad lutz in the summer. “The way we were feeling before the event, I think we are at our very end of our adrenalin reserves,” Eric said. “We had to take things more methodically. We feel a great sense of accomplishment not only here but for the entire season.”
The ice dancers were next to compete with Team North America in the lead after the pairs event. Madison Chock and Evan Bates, representing Team North America took the lead in the first group against Team Asia’s Shiyue Wang and Xinyu Liu and Team Europe’s Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland. After struggling quite a bit this season with this program, Chock and Bates have finally found their rhythm. “It felt really good,” Madison said. “This program has grown so much and I think our last two performances have been our best of the entire season. It’s was a great way to end the season here in Spokane.” Chock and Bates are already listening to music for next season, but after discovering the value of just the right music, they are going to be very careful and not rush the decision on what piece of music to skate to for next season.
The second group of ice dancers featured Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje from Team North America, Rebeka Kim and Kirill Mnov representing Team Asia and Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte from Team Europe. Kaitlyn and Andrew gave a stunning performance and won the ice dance event with an emotional finish. “This competition was very meaningful for us,” Kaitlyn said. “We wanted to leave this season on a good note and we were so elated when we finished and we can go home very happy.”
This is the inaugural Team Challenge Cup and the final major international event of the season. Many of the skaters are exhausted after a long season, but they are enjoying the team aspect of the event and hope to skate well not only for themselves, but for their team. The competition will conclude tonight with ladies and mens free skate, which will determine the winning team of the event.