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Figure skating: US lift Team Trophy, Suzuki wins women title

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Americans Ashley Wagner and Gracie Gold bowed to Japan's veteran Akiko Suzuki in the women's singles but powered their country to overall victory in the World Team Trophy in Tokyo Saturday.

Suzuki, 28, second in Thursday's short programme, gave all she had to score her personal best of 133.02 points and top the free skate table to win overall with 199.58, also her personal record.

Wagner, the US national champion, finished second overall on 188.60 and her home rival, 17-year-old Gold, third on 188.03.

"I feel relieved after I skated with all I had. There was nothing left but just my willpower in the end," said Suzuki, the runner-up to compatriot Mao Asada at the Four Continents championships in February.

Skating to the music of "O" from Cirque du Soleil, Suzuki opened her programme with a triple-double-double combination, followed up by six triple jumps, two of them combined with doubles.

The 2012 world bronze medallist also hit a maximum level-four in three spins, a step sequence and a choreo sequence.

Asada, the 2008 and 2010 world gold medallist who settled for the bronze this year, again failed to hit her top form. She finished fifth overall as she did in both the short and free programmes.

Russia's newly crowned world champions Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov won the pairs event, topping the free skating table with 136.06 points for a two-day total of 210.47.

The Canadian duo of Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford finished second on 191.15 and China's Peng Cheng and Zhang Hao third on 174.40.

The United States, who won the inaugural World Team Trophy in 2009 but finished runners-up to Japan last year, topped the team standings on 57 points with Canada second on 51 and Japan third on 49 points.

The event, with $1 million in prize money, has brought together skaters from the six countries that scored the highest combined points at major senior and junior competitions during the season.

Each nation can field two entries in both the men's and women's singles and one each in the pairs and ice dance.

First place in each category was awarded 12 points with fewer points given to lower finishes -- one point less by one place.

"I'm so proud of my team. I think every one skated pretty well and were supportive of each other. That made it so easy and in the end we were able to win," said Wagner, fifth at the world championships four weeks ago.

The World Team Trophy was launched in 2009 as a two-yearly event with a similar team competition due to make its Olympic debut in Sochi next year.

Tokyo has hosted all three editions with the 2011 event postponed by a year due to a massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

On Friday, Grand Prix Final winner Daisuke Takashi of Japan took the men's singles, beating Canada's three-time world champion Patrick Chan into second spot.

The ice dance title went to the US couple of Madison Chock and Evan Bates with Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje of Canada second.

"At the Olympics, hopefully, I won't skate as how I did yesterday," said Chan, who fell twice in jumps and once in a change-foot spin in his free skate. He said he wanted to "have a good old time with the team in a positive manner" in the team event at the Sochi Games.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130413/figure-skating-us-lift-team-trophy-suzuki-wins-women-title