Trusova and Chen star as Europe win Japan Open

Alexandra Trusova lands four quads in the free skate-only competition with Nathan Chen posting 'mind BLOWN' on Instagram in response

4 min By Rory Jiwani
Trusova 1019 THUMB

Alexandra Trusova was the star of the show as Team Europe won figure skating's Japan Open in Saitama.

The 15-year-old landed four quads in the free skate-only competition to beat reigning world and Olympic champion Alina Zagitova in the ladies' singles with Japan's Rika Kihira in third.

Double world champion Nathan Chen was a comfortable victor in the opening men's event, outscoring PyeongChang 2018 silver medallist Shoma Uno by 20 points.

Vincent Zhou took third to help Team North America into a sizeable lead at halfway, but the Russian women did enough to secure overall victory for the European team which included two-time world champ Javier Fernandez.

Trusova wows Saitama

Double world junior champion Trusova had already shown she would be a force in her first senior season with victory in last month's CS Nepela Memorial in Bratislava.

But this was the first time she was coming up against the top seniors in 2019-20.

The longer free skate gives her maximum opportunity to show off her array of quads, and she did so to great effect in Saitama dancing to music from 'Game of Thrones'.

Trusova opened with a quad Salchow which she just about held onto followed by a better quad Lutz.

Then came a quad toe loop-triple toe loop combination and a double Axel followed by a somewhat scrappy quad toe loop-Euler-triple Salchow combo.

A triple Lutz-triple loop combination and another triple Lutz and an excellent spin sequence ended a high-quality routine.

While her quads were not executed perfectly, they were all landed cleanly to guarantee high technical elements scores and give an indication of what could be to come later this season.

That gave her the edge over training partner Zagitova, outscoring her 160.53 to 154.41, with Kihira almost 10 points further back.

Chen and Uno were reportedly transfixed by Trusova's skate with the American so impressed that he posted a video in Instagram showing replays of her four quads with the message, "mind BLOWN".

Zagitova skated a clean programme with triple Lutz-triple loop and triple flip-double toe loop-double loop combinations the highlights.

Kihira chose not to unveil the quad Salchow she has earmarked for the season, instead opening with a triple Axel as she did in winning the Autumn Classic last month.

Satoko Miyahara was fourth ahead of Americans Bradie Tennell and the recently-retired Mirai Nagasu.

The Russians' big scores saw Team Europe leapfrog both Team Japan and Team North America into first place and regain the title after last year's home win.

Chen dominates men's event

Earlier in Saitama, Chen was simply irresistible in the men's competition as he returned to the scene of his second world title.

Dancing to a medley of songs from the Elton John biopic 'Rocketman', the 20-year-old opened with a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination before landing a quad flip followed by a quad toe loop-Euler-single flip combo.

Then came a triple Axel, a quad Salchow and a quad toe loop, but a scintillating routine was marred slightly when he singled what should have been a triple Axel.

However, he was soon back on track with a dazzling step sequence to 'Bennie and the Jets' and was rewarded with a big score of 189.83 to lay down a serious marker for the season.

Uno attempted just two quads in his skate to a cover of Robyn's 'Dancing On My Own', but fell on the quad toe loop.

He scored 169.09 to just beat Zhou into second place.

Javier Fernandez - who retired from competition after winning a seventh straight European title - delighted the crowd with his skate to Rossini's 'The Barber of Seville', the music with which he won his first world title in 2015.

The Spaniard's lack of quads meant he was always likely to struggle on the scoring front and he was fifth, just behind Japan's Koshiro Shimada, with Deniss Vasiljevs of Latvia in sixth.

Japan Open results

Men's free skate:

Nathan Chen 189.83

Shoma Uno 169.09

Vincent Zhou 167.64

Koshiro Shimada 153.37

Javier Fernandez 153.14

Deniss Vasiljevs 146.65

Ladies' free skate:

Alexandra Trusova 160.53

Alina Zagitova 154.41

Rika Kihira 144.76

Satoko Miyahara 134.94

Bradie Tennell 124.91

Mirai Nagasu 111.04

Overall standings:

Team Europe 614.73

Team Japan 602.16

Team North America 593.42

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