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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

ICE TIME

Yokohama tapped to host next World Team Trophy


Two years after hosting the inaugural World Team Trophy, Japan has once again been selected to be the site of the six-nation, biennial event.

Jack Gallagher

The International Skating Union recently announced that the 2011 World Team Trophy will be held at Yokohama Arena next April 14-17.

The competition features selected skaters from the six countries with the season's best results in the ladies and men's singles, as well as pairs and ice dance.

The United States, led by Evan Lysacek, won the first World Team Trophy back in 2009 at Yoyogi National Gymnasium. Canada placed second, while Japan took third.

Japan was hurt by the absence of Daisuke Takahashi, who had undergone major reconstructive knee surgery several months before and was unable to participate. Nobunari Oda came in third in the event behind France's Brian Joubert.

Mao Asada edged Canada's Joannie Rochette for the women's title, but it wasn't enough for Japan.

News photo
Long season ahead: Mao Asada and her compatriots will team up to represent Japan in the second World Team Trophy competition at Yokohama Arena next April. AP PHOTO

The addition of the World Team Trophy completes a clean sweep for Asia, which will host all of the major skating events next season.

Looking ahead: Mao announced last week that Canadian choreographer Lori Nichol, whom she has worked with previously, will arrange her free skate for the coming season.

This is seen as a progressive move for Mao, who was clearly burdened by the dark "Bells of Moscow" music in last season's free skate, which just did not fit her vibrant personality.

Tatiana Tarasova, who is no longer coaching Mao, will choreograph Mao's short program.

Mao has struggled in the past with her short program, but with the proposed rule changes that would give skaters more credit for landing a triple axel in the short program, this could potentially put Mao in a significantly better position heading into the free skate.

Mao is expected to travel to both Canada and Russia in the coming weeks to work with Nichol and Tarasova.

Still no word on a full-time coach for Mao for next season.

Surgery deferred: World champion Takahashi was scheduled to have a bolt removed from his right knee during the off-season, but has decided to put it off until after next year's world championships in Tokyo.

The Olympic bronze medalist indicated that he didn't want anything to interrupt his preparations for the coming season, as he seeks to defend his title at home.

Once again, one can only imagine what Takahashi might have accomplished in Vancouver if he had not lost an entire year of competition due to the injury.

Takahashi also sprung a bit of a surprise during the recent Prince Ice World shows in Shin-Yokohama. He told the media he was hoping to have Canadian Shae-Lynn Bourne, who is based in Simsbury, Conn., be his coach for the coming season.

Working with Bourne, a former world ice dancing champion, would likely necessitate a move back to the United States for Takahashi, who previously trained with Nikolai Morozov for two seasons at the Ice House in Hackensack, N.J.

More accolades: In the wake of her decisive victory at the Vancouver Olympics, Kim Yu Na has received her share of honors and recognition.

She added another prestigious one to her resume recently when she was selected by Time magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World for 2010.

Yu Na joined such luminaries as U.S. President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama on the list.

Time not only invited Yu Na to New York to celebrate the achievement, it also had five-time world champion Michelle Kwan pen a tribute to her.

Tributes aside, the question on the minds of a great many people these days concerns Yu Na's next move.

She only added to the speculation last week in an interview with Reuters:

"It's only been three months after the Olympics, and to think of four more years down the road is just horrendous," she said when asked about competing in the 2014 Sochi Games. "I am not thinking of the next Olympics yet because I haven't yet made a decision on next season."

Yu Na also addressed the recent rumors that her coach, Brian Orser, was going to leave her to coach Mao.

"The stories that have been going around that Brian Orser will coach another athlete, I know to be false," she said.



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