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Nathan Chen leads U.S. team looking to defend at World Team Trophy


Members of the US figure skating team cheer during the World Team Trophy figure skating in Fukuoka on April 13, 2019. (Photo by JIJI PRESS / JIJI PRESS / AFP) / Japan OUT (Photo credit should read JIJI PRESS/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

Three-time world champion Nathan Chen leads the U.S. team seeking to defend its title at the 2021 ISU World Team Trophy, slated for April 15-17 in Osaka, Japan.

Announced Wednesday, the team also includes Jason Brown, Karen Chen, Bradie Tennell, the pairs’ team of Alexa Knierim/Brandon Frazier and ice dancers Kaitlin Hawayek/Jean-Luc Baker.

All eight skaters competed at the recently concluded world championships, in which Nathan Chen won an impressive third consecutive world title with five clean quads in his free skate after trailing Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu and Yuma Kagiyama in the short program. Also in Stockholm, Karen Chen was fourth, Brown and Knierim/Frazier both seventh, and Tennell and Hawayek/Baker ninth.

Team USA will compete against Canada, France, Italy, Japan and Russia in Osaka. The top six ranked nations qualified for World Team Trophy, though China withdrew and was replaced by France.

Both men, both women and the pairs’ and ice dance teams will each perform a short program/rhythm dance and a free skate/dance. Each skater or team’s placement within its discipline will be awarded that number of points, which contributes to the team’s total score.

The event typically features athletes and coaches from each country seated in a team box, donning patriotic attire and cheering for their teammates.

Since its inception in 2009, the U.S. and Japan have combined to win all six biennial titles. Team USA returned to the top of the podium in 2019, followed by Japan and Russia.

Russia will be hard to beat this year with a team that includes the recent world champions in three of four disciplines: Anna Shcherbakova, Anastasia Mishina/Aleksandr Galliamov (pairs), Viktoria Sinitsina/Nikita Katsalapov (ice dance), plus world silver medalist Yelizaveta Tuktamysheva.

Japan, which has held every World Team Trophy and also medaled at each, is sending two-time Olympic and world champion Hanyu, who this year settled for bronze behind Nathan Chen and Kagiyama, as well as 2018 Olympic silver medalist Shoma Uno (fourth this year at worlds) and two-time reigning Four Continents champion Rika Kihira.

The U.S. has medaled at every World Team Trophy, plus both Olympic team events, which follow a similar format. Nathan Chen and Brown will both be participating in their fourth team event, with Tennell and Knierim in their third and Karen Chen in her second. This is the first team event for Frazier, Hawayek and Baker.

Competition will be streamed in its entirety on Peacock Premium, and three broadcasts will air on NBCSN: 11:30 p.m. ET on Thursday, April 15; 6 p.m. ET on Friday, April 15; and midnight-2 a.m. ET on Sunday, April 18.

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